Question & Answer Session for CI Bloom

Contemporary Istanbul returns with a brand-new fair at Tersane Istanbul.

CI Bloom, Istanbul’s newest art fair features Contemporary Istanbul’s selection of contemporary art galleries in Turkey. It’s time to experience the latest in contemporary art in the historic setting of Tersane Istanbul situated on the shores of the Golden Horn.

Contemporary Istanbul is checking the pulse of the city with CI Bloom, which is open until May 15. This fair is also a warm-up for the 17th edition of the annual CI fair.

We caught up with Moiz Zilberman, the founder of Zilberman Gallery, and Doğa Öktem, the founding partner of Öktem Aykut Gallery to talk about their experiences as members of the selection committee before sitting down with Emirhan Elkörek, a young collector and a member of the Contemporary Istanbul Advisory Board, to hear his thoughts on CI.

Moiz Zilberman, Zilberman Gallery Founder

You are one of the art professionals on the CI Bloom selection committee. What are the key factors in your process of choosing contemporary art galleries in Turkey?

I have two main criteria for selecting galleries – I look for a focus on a programme that is in line with the current level and content of contemporary art with a degree of artistic integrity and respect for the ethical principles of the art world and business life.

What about the event venue, the historic Tersane Istanbul? How did it affect the preparations for the fair? Did the selection committee have a role in choosing this venue?

No, the committee did not have a role in choosing Tersane Istanbul as the venue. The effects were both positive and negative. There is a great location advantage to it however, there were limitations mainly because of the characteristics of the building and the ongoing constructions.

Doğa Öktem, Oktem Aykut Galeri Founding Partner.

What are the key factors in your process of choosing galleries for Contemporary Istanbul Bloom?

I consider their programming (the artists they represent, their exhibition schedule, and any particular focus area), their participation history in the fair, their presentations at previous fairs, their approach, and contributions to contemporary art…

Objectively speaking, how do you think Contemporary Istanbul is perceived in the global arena?

I believe that most people who participate in or visit contemporary art events are curious about Contemporary Istanbul. However, I also notice that the degree of curiosity is not enough to make a significant contribution to the success of the fair. Obviously, there are difficulties related to the political, geographical, and economic conditions of Turkey. On the other hand, there is an unconditional attraction because Istanbul is always an interesting destination. I know that each edition of Contemporary Istanbul tries to use this advantage and overcome the difficulties more efficiently. The organisers are dedicated to building on the artistic quality of the fair which I believe will be the driving force in increasing interest in the event from the global contemporary art scene.

Among all the submissions, what would you suggest as a ‘must see’ work of art at the CI Bloom fair? Can you explain why?

I can mention Renée Levi’s abstract paintings which will be on display at our stand. Renée was born in Istanbul and built her career in Switzerland, where she has lived since her childhood. Her work has been featured at major European biennials and museums in recent years. Renée’s ceramic installation proposal won the competition for the façade of the Swiss Parliament Building. We are thrilled to display some of her smaller-scale work at Contemporary Istanbul before a solo exhibition at the gallery in September.

Emirhan Elkorek, Contemporary Istanbul Young Advisory Board member

How does CI Bloom contribute to Turkish contemporary art?

CI Bloom has had a very positive impact on contemporary Turkish art. Step Fair was formerly an event that featured the work of young artists within a certain budget; however, CI Bloom is much more exciting in terms of selection, the timing (before the summer vacations) and venue. It is exciting to bring a new perspective to Turkey where art fairs have been quite limited.

You are a member of the Contemporary Istanbul Young Advisory Board. Which Contemporary Istanbul event have you been to recently? How have the Young Artist Advisory Board events contributed to you at a personal level?

Both CI and the foundation organise various events and exhibitions in Turkey and abroad throughout the year. I regard these as important events that bring art enthusiasts and the art world together. I recently saw Limbo, Canan Tolon’s spatial installation which bears the same name as her 1997 book and was organised by the CI Foundation at Fişekhane. The exhibition takes the audience on a journey that focuses on contrasts such as life and death through the cycle of life concept.

 Is there a ‘must-see’ work of art for you in this edition? Can you explain why?

Of course, I can name many galleries and artists that cannot be missed. I really look forward to new work by Ardan Özmenoğlu and İnci Eviner’s work which will be featured at the stand of her new gallery. Turkish female artists interest me more, recently with their different perspectives.