The one item that particularly jumped out at me from ouritinerary was the visit to the Istanbul Modern Art Museum.
A lot of people think of modern art as looking somethinglike this:
(Ellsworth Kelly, Colors for a Large Wall, 1951)
(Dan Content, untitled 1, c. 1970)
and generally inspiring a feeling ofI-could-totally-have-made-that-myself. But modern art is much more than that. Modern art can be wildly expressive, on a deep, emotional level. It is difficult to look at a painting likethis:
(Leonid Afremov, Flame Dance, 2008)
without feeling some small part of the pure joy and freedomfelt by the artist. It can also providea view of the culture the artist lives in, like in this painting:
(Jasper Johns, Map, 1961)
Art is unique in its ability to portray the views of anindividual without accidentally absorbing those of others. If we attempted in any other way to get agrasp of the modern culture in Istanbul, whatever we learned would be anamalgam of the ideas and feelings of many people, due to the unavoidablealteration of thoughts as they spread. But in a painting or sculpture, an artist can freeze their opinion on asubject, and that opinion can spread without fear of alteration. In this way, we may see a side of Istanbulthrough this modern art that we otherwise would not get to see at all—the sidethat is the everyday lives of its people.
This close-up look at individuals’ lives is fascinating tome. Too often, we assume that all thosewho live in a foreign place lead similar lives. But in fact, their daily routines are as richly varied and diverse asour own.
Modern art has also traditionally been an outlet forpolitical frustrations—perhaps, we will see in the museum a bit of the strugglebetween Turkey’s secular government and its devoutly religious people.
One exhibit at the museum that looks particularlyinteresting is “Modernity? Perspectives from France and Turkey,” which includesart like this:
(Thomas Hirschhorn, The One World, 2007)
and will be on display during our visit. The exhibition “opens for discussion how the remains of modernity can transform thepresent and the future.” This should beparticularly interesting after a month of studying the intersection of Turkey’srich history and its attempts to modernize.
If you, like me, are interested in the museum, you can checkout their website here.