December 14, 2011

Uncensored: Art And Politics Converge At Istanbul Contemporary Art Fair

While the predictable “anyone who is anyone” was heading off to Miami to suck up the de rigeur art scene chic of Art Basel/Miami Beach last week, everyone with a more adventurous rebel streak was dashing about the cobbled alleyways and 24-hour-a-day energies of Istanbul, discovering the new and chic-to-be at Istanbul Contemporary, Turkey’s increasingly-popular international fair for contemporary art.

Now in its sixth year, Contemporary Istanbul stands as something of a symbol for the changes that have overtaken this city in the past decade, not just culturally, but socially, as well. To visit the fair is to watch an entire country change, at times for better, at times for worse, as the vicissitudes of the region’s political realities press in.

Unlike other Middle Eastern fairs like Art Dubai, where from the beginning Western galleries swarmed in to take advantage of Middle East wealth and a longstanding interest in buying Western art, Contemporary Istanbul has only in the past three years found interest among European and American dealers – just as only recently have Turkish collectors begun to show an affinity with European and American art.


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