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Istanbul Modern: New Exhibitions at the Heart of Istanbul


After a long wait, Istanbul Modern is back at its renewed venue. In 2018, with the start of the construction of Galataport, the museum was temporarily moved from its venue in Karaköy to Beyoğlu. After 4 years of service, Istanbul Modern is now back at its original place in Karaköy with a renewed building on the coast of the Bosphorus. Istanbul Modern, being Türkiye’s first modern and contemporary art museum, plays a crucial role in Istanbul’s cultural life. Since 2004, Istanbul Modern has been hosting national and international exhibitions, educational programs, film screenings, social projects, and other various events. Now, the museum opens its doors with new exhibitions: Floating Islands, Always Here, Nuri Bilge Ceylan: In Another Place, and Constructing Architecture.




Floating Islands

Floating Islands is a collection exhibition by Istanbul Modern, gathering more than 280 works by 110 artists and 2 artist duos. The outstanding artists include Bedri Baykam, Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu, Burhan Doğançay, Sabri Berkel, Aliye Berger, Seçkin Pirim, Fahrelnissa Zeid, and more. The exhibition consists of two parts: one permanent exhibition and one temporary exhibition.


The permanent exhibition showcases a selection from the museum's collection in chronological order. With pieces ranging from sculptures to installations and videos to collages and watercolors, the exhibition displays the development of art and culture in Türkiye after 1945. The exhibition touches upon themes such as women's rights, politics, culture, and identity. Each piece reflects the artist's own unique approach and shows the influence of culture and time on art. Through multi-media pieces such as “Tremor, Rumour, Hoover” by Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin, the visitors reminisce about the past events in Türkiye. “TREMOR, RUMOUR, HOOVER” written with colored sequins is a reference to the phrase “Tremor makes rumour, rumour makes humour” which was developed among people living in Istanbul after the big earthquake of August 17, 1999. It also references the phrase “Tremor Sea, Black Tremor, Hoover the water” which is about the artist’s own discontent and desire to escape.

(Tremor, Rumour, Hoover by Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin from ”A selection from the Collection”, Istanbul Modern website)
Tremor, Rumour, Hoover by Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin from ”A selection from the Collection”, Istanbul Modern website


Picture taken by the Author of this Article

The temporary exhibition gallery features pieces mostly created after the 2000s with a range of artists from Türkiye and abroad. The works in this section reflect the artists’ approach to themes like city, nature, geographies, borders, politics, culture, and music. Works such as “The Portrait of Garance 3” by Jérôme Zonder combine criticisms of world problems and expressions of artists’ inner worlds. “The Portrait of Garance 3” focuses on physical violence, oppression, and depression. It reflects the traumas of history— as the artist explains, the disappeared human face represents the people lost in World War II, the Rwandan genocide, and the destruction in Hiroshima. The visitors can see the impact of culture, identity, and background on each of the pieces in the section that gathers artists from different geographies. The visitors can see the impact of culture, identity, and background on each of the pieces in the section that gathers artists from different geographies.



(The Portrait of Garance 3 by Jérôme Zonder from ”A selection from the Collection”, Istanbul Modern website)
The Portrait of Garance 3 by Jérôme Zonder from ”A selection from the Collection”, Istanbul Modern website


Always Here

Picture Taken by the Author of this Article

“Always Here” presents a selection of works as a part of the Women Artists Fund which aims to support female artists. The exhibition showcases the work of women artists from different generations who stand out through their handling of diverse subjects, and unique use of techniques and materials. Pieces feature the themes of women's rights, gender roles, and societal views and pressure put on women. The exhibition highlights how women had to fight for their place in society and how they were unable to receive education on equal terms with men.






Nuri Bilge Ceylan: In Another Place

“In Another Place” is a photography exhibition by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, one of the most important directors of modern cinema. The exhibition includes a selection of portraits taken by Nuri Bilge Ceylan in 22 different countries such as India, Georgia, and Russia. Although the photographs contain people from around the world, all portraits have a natural atmosphere, dramatic lights, and people making eye contact with the camera with a calm expression. With his unique technique, Ceylan aims to stress that even though geography might separate us, emotions and struggles are common for all humans. “Another Place” is a reference to the characters in Ceylan’s movies and the people we encounter in our daily lives who want to be in “another place” than where they already are.

(Mud Boys by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Istanbul Modern website)
"Mud Boys" by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Istanbul Modern website




Constructing Architecture

Picture Taken by the Author of this Article

“Constructing Architecture ” is a collection of photographs and building models that depict the renovation process and architecture of Istanbul Modern’s new building, designed by Renzo Piano. The exhibition is placed in the corridors and gives visitors the opportunity to learn more about the museum’s architecture. It examines the ideas behind the renewed design, architecture, and construction of the Istanbul Modern building through the lens of Cemal Emden.






Overall, the renewed Istanbul Modern provides an incredible experience for art lovers. The wide-ranging exhibitions from digital to traditional pieces offer an entertaining time for all visitors. With over 8.5 million tourers to date, Istanbul Modern is a must-see art and culture institution.



Works Cited:


Istanbul Modern, Istanbul Museum Of Modern Art. “Always Here.” Always Here - İstanbul Modern, www.istanbulmodern.org/en/exhibitions/current-exhibitions/always-here_3252.html . Accessed 24 June 2023.

Istanbul Modern, Istanbul Museum Of Modern Art. “Constructing Architecture.” Constructing Architecture - İstanbul Modern, www.istanbulmodern.org/en/exhibitions/current-exhibitions/constructing-architecture_3254.html . Accessed 24 June 2023.

Istanbul Modern, Istanbul Museum Of Modern Art. “Nuri Bilge Ceylan: In Another Place.” Nuri Bilge Ceylan: In Another Place - İstanbul Modern, www.istanbulmodern.org/en/exhibitions/current-exhibitions/nuri-bilge-ceylan-in-another-place_3253.html . Accessed 24 June 2023.

Istanbul Modern, Istanbul Museum Of Modern Art. “Yüzen Adalar.” Yüzen Adalar - İstanbul Modern, www.istanbulmodern.org/tr/sergiler/guncel-sergiler/yuzen-adalar_3246.html . Accessed 24 June 2023.






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