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Pavilion of Turkey at la Biennale di Venezia

On the initiation of the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) and with the gracious contribution of 21 supporters, Turkey obtains a long-term venue in the Venice Biennale, one of world's leading contemporary art and architecture events. The allotment of 20 years (from 2014 to 2034) at Arsenale, one of the two main venues of the event, will allow the Pavilion of Turkey to take part for the first time this year in the International Architecture Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia.

In its debut year in 2014, the Pavilion of Turkey at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia that will run from 7 June through to 23 November will present the project Places of Memory, performed by the curator Murat Tabanlıoğlu, the project coordinator Pelin Derviş and a team of exhibitors.

Places of Memory will be the first project to be presented in Turkey’s recently secured venue for 20 years in Arsenale, one of the two main venues of the event.

The Pavilion of Turkey is coordinated by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, co-sponsored by Schüco Turkey and VitrA, and realised with the contribution of the Promotion Fund of the Turkish Prime Ministry, under the auspices of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Republic of Turkey.

The details of the Pavilion of Turkey at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia were revealed at a press meeting on Monday, 10 March at Salon located at İKSV headquarters. Curator Murat Tabanlıoğlu, project coordinator Pelin Derviş and the exhibitors Ali Taptık, Alper Derinboğaz, Candaş Şişman, Metehan Özcan and Serkan Taycan gave detailed information about the project. 

İKSV Chairman Bülent Eczacıbaşı, Schüco Turkey Advertisement Manager Zeynep İnsel Muratoğlu and Executive Vice President, Eczacıbaşı Building Products Division Atalay Gümrah on behalf of VitrA also participated in the meeting and delivered speeches.

In his opening speech, İKSV Chairman Bülent Eczacıbaşı stated “İKSV has been implementing international projects since 2004 in order to introduce the world Turkey’s cultural and artistic assets. Within this scope, we have been organizing the Turkish Pavilion at the International Art Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia since 2007. Up until today, Turkey did not have a long-term venue at la Biennale di Venezia. As a result of our efforts as İKSV and with the contributions of 21 supporters, Turkey will now have a long-term venue for the next 20 years. Consequently, we are glad to announce that Turkey will participate to the International Architecture Exhibition, along with the International Art Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia.”   


Schüco Turkey Advertisement Manager Zeynep İnsel Muratoğlu “The main theme of the 14th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia focuses on the ‘fundamentals of architecture.’ We are proud that our brand, which can be seen as part of these fundamentals of architecture with the systems it provides, is among the contributors of the biennale.”

Executive Vice President, Eczacıbaşı Building Products Division Atalay Gümrah delivered a speech on behalf of VitrA and said “We believe architecture and urban planning are crucial for a country like Turkey which has a rich historical background. Our brand VitrA is a solution partner for architectural practices in achieving good architectures. We support projects that focus on architecture and develop our own projects. In this respect, we are proud to be among the co-sponsors of the Pavilion of Turkey.”   

Following the speeches, curator Murat Tabanlıoğlu explained the conceptual framework of the project Places of Memory, which attempts to explore the main theme of the biennial via perceptions and experiences. With an idea departing from three areas of Istanbul: Taksim-Salıpazarı, Bâb-ı Âli and Büyükdere Boulevard, places that acted as thresholds during different stages of the curator’s life, the project will focus on the concept of place itself, incorporated with the subjective vision of every exhibitor in the team.

İKSV has formed a Scientific Committee to provide with the necessary academic support and counselling in the project. The Scientific Committee members, Istanbul Technical University Architecture Department lecturer Prof. Dr. Arzu Erdem, Istanbul Şehir University Sociology Department lecturer and Director of the Center for Urban Studies Prof. Dr. Murat Güvenç, Aga Khan Award for Architecture former General Secretary and President of the World Architecture Community Prof. Dr. Suha Özkan, and Mardin Artuklu University Dean of Faculty of Architecture Prof. Dr. Uğur Tanyeli also attended the press meeting.


Places of Memory
—Murat Tabanlıoğlu

Rather than conducting a historical account of modern epoch in Turkey, presenting an exhaustive catalogue, or trying to capture its unique local attributes, “Places of Memory” attempts to explore the main theme of the biennial via perceptions and experiences.

The project idea departs from three areas of Istanbul: The first comprises Taksim, where I was born and grew up. Taksim is also an important square, with a constantly changing appearance because of partial and inconsistent interventions. The Atatürk Cultural Center, situated on the narrower end of the square, is a symbol of modern architecture in Turkey. My father, Hayati Tabanlıoğlu, was the architect. This first area spreads out across a wider zone, and continues downhill from the square to the coast, passes along the warehouses designed by Sedad Hakkı Eldem, an important representative of 20th century architecture in Turkey, reaching Salıpazarı harbor. Like many other areas in Istanbul, this area, too, is undergoing transformation. The GalataPort project (a master plan proposal, 2001) developed by us (Tabanlıoğlu Architects) for the area and the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, which we transformed from a warehouse into a museum (2004), were among projects that triggered change in this area. The second area is Bâb-ı Âli, where I spent my youth. Starting in Sirkeci, the area used to host the headquarters of important newspapers and printing houses in Turkey along two sides of the Cağaloğlu slope. I used to pass through this world every day since I studied in a high school in the same area. The final one is Büyükdere Boulevard and its environs. This area, once lined with fields and orchards, later with light industry buildings, today is in juxtaposition with the CBD, featuring high-rise buildings especially between Levent-Maslak axes that connect main transportation routes of the city.

A detailed discussion of these places that acted as thresholds during different stages of my life—or in a sense, my memory—seeded the first layers of the conceptual framework. Our focus in the exhibition is not necessarily on these places, but rather on the concept of place itself, incorporated with the subjective vision of every exhibitor in the team. The works interact with each other via different approaches based on different scales and mediums.

We chose not to write in advance the story that might emerge from this project. We will see the outcome together. This is a conscious decision that keeps us on edge, but one that also holds potentials.

Pavilion of Turkey Workshops

A series of panels will be held in the 14th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia with the participant countries. Turkey will participate to this panel with a large international student workshop. Murat Tabanlıoğlu is getting organised for the programme with graduate students who are enrolled to his studio in the 2014 spring semester at Istanbul Bilgi University Architectural Design Department. A group of students from Politecnico di Milano and students from various architecture schools in Turkey will participate to the workshop programme that includes an exhibition and discussion of student works in Venice during the biennial.

"Places of Memory" Book

A book is prepared to accompany the project based on interviews with Murat Tabanlıoğlu, Pelin Derviş, Ali Taptık, Alper Derinboğaz, Candaş Şişman, Metehan Özcan and Serkan Taycan, conducted by Luca Molinari, the curator of the Italian Pavilion at the 12th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia in 2010. Designed by Aslı Altay
(Future Anecdotes Istanbul) who has also designed the communication materials of the project, the book will be available at the opening of the biennial with two separate editions in Turkish and English and will subsequently be sold in bookstores.

The 14th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia

The 14th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia will feature country pavilions besides the main exhibition entitled "Fundamentals" curated by Rem Koolhaas. Rem Koolhaas suggested the participating countries to engage a single theme Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014 and therefore, focus on a common topic and develop their own approach from a unique standpoint.

You can download the press release from here.

For further details please click here.