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How the Arts in Türkiye Were Affected by the Global Pandemic

Historians have been using a simple method to analyze and understand what’s happening now. The history repeats itself, if you check the story the first time when it happened, the second time will be full of spoilers. Just like history, this argument matches with the history of art. In order to analyze how the pandemic affected the art, in the first place we should look for the regular flow before the global pandemic was even a topic.

Even though it is hard to give a definite date to the start of modern art, it was with impressionism, expressionism, cubism, futurism, and surrealism, when they were quite famous between 1890-1930. Looking at the examples and the theory, it is seen that modern art in painting involves changing the canvas to a plastic idea, a story of time and place. In short, an art piece like an oil based paint on canvas evolved into a reflection of ideas. Modern art is seen as a change of the idea “art for the artist” to “art for the viewer.” This is summarized in the article “reproduction of the art piece with appropriation” as Warhol, a modern art artist and biggest name of the pop-art, reproduced the basic images like soup cans and created the idea of how art is no longer belonged to the artist but the idea is to the viewer.

Andy Warhol, Campbell’s Soup Cans

Art got digitized in the beginning of the 20th century by the artists, Dali, Duchamp, and Man Ray. It was relatively unsuccessful considering there was no reason for it to be digital; the views were better when there was a place along with the piece, the idea itself. Now comes how the global pandemic made it impossible for the place, where the art piece belonged, to be close to the viewer. Art had to be digitized. Famous museums like British Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and in Türkiye, Pera Museum, SALT, Sakıp Sabancı Museum, and Istanbul Modern opened digital art galleries and platforms for viewers. Art pieces and, of course, ideas of the pieces adapted the digital world with it. Artists have found a new way, a loophole to open an exhibit in quarantine restrictions in the pandemic. Tuğberk Selçuk, created an installation called “Sadece Eczanelerde (Only in Pharmacies).” This piece was restored in an operating pharmacy which was open all day long during the pandemic. Artist Selçuk not only found a loophole to a presentation but also gave a message to other artists, that no help is coming for them and that they have to find their way to it. Presentation fueled the debates of government help in Türkiye to the artists and related non-profit organizations.

Tuğberk Selçuk, Sadece Eczanelerde

Debates are summed up by many organizations at that time. They were publishing handbooks about necessities in the field. The United Nations and WHO clearly stated that art was required now more than ever and governments applied that argument. Finland, France, South Africa, South Korea, Holland, England, Scotland and many more countries enucleated relief supply kits. Situations in Türkiye were a bit different, no relief supply kits but only adjourning the loans. To answer the question how art changed after the pandemic, now we have a clear setup for the experiment. Artists in other countries got supported with policies and money help; in Türkiye, artists were required to put anything with their own money and also try to hold up against the difficulties of the pandemic. This environment required digitization of some kind, and art is now displayed in social media and other platforms. People are sharing posts about arts they like and it creates a viewer-artist relationship. Art in Türkiye evolved in a way that is exhibited on social media. It only helped modern arts revolve to the idea it started: less image of the artist more image of the idea.

As expressed, the artists’ role in art in Türkiye faded into the most basic idea of the modern arts; the idea itself got more important and viewers got the experience of viewing in social media platforms since Türkiye did not create options for real life exhibits or digital museums. Viewer-artist relationships got digitized with social media platforms, the role of exhibits completely changed, and also setups like in “Sadece Eczanelerde” became a common-ground for artists.

Work Cited:

Image 1: Andy Warhol, Campbell’s Soup Cans

Image 2: Tuğberk Selçuk, Sadece Eczanelerde

Başar, Çiğdem Tanyel. “Pandeminin Gölgesinde Sanat-Sanatçı-İzleyici” Yedi Sanat, Tasarım ve Bilim Dergisi, Winter 2021/ Issue 25,

İstanbul Kültür Sanat Vakfı. “Pandemi Sırasında Kültür-Sanatın Birleştirici Gücü ve Alanın İhtiyaçları” Nisan 2020,

Ece, Özlem. “Pandemi Sırasında ve Sonrasında Kültür ve Sanat” TRT Akademi, Cilt 5, 31.07.2021,


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