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Places of Memory is at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia

Today, on Thursday, 5 June 2014, Turkey, inaugurated its debut exhibition, Places of Memory, at its long-term pavilion at the prestigious Arsenale, one of the two main venues of the 14th International Architecture Exhibition, 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, from 2014 to 2034, in the Biennale di Venezia, one of world's leading contemporary art and architecture exhibitions.

In its debut year in 2014, the Pavilion of Turkey co-sponsored by Schüco Turkey and VitrA at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia that runs from 7 June through to 23 November presents the project Places of Memory, performed by the curator Murat Tabanlıoğlu, the project coordinator Pelin Derviş and a team of exhibitors, Alper Derinboğaz, Metehan Özcan, Candaş Şişman, Ali Taptık and Serkan Taycan.

The Pavilion of Turkey is coordinated by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, co-sponsored by Schüco Turkey and VitrA, with the production support of Häfele and the contribution of Istanbul Mineral Exporters’ Association. The Pavilion of Turkey is also realized under the auspices of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Republic of Turkey.

İKSV has formed a Scientific Committee to provide with the necessary academic support and counseling in the project. The Scientific Committee members are 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.

Places of Memory attempts to explore the theme of ‘absorbing modernity’ via perceptions and experiences, focusing on three areas of Istanbul: Taksim-Karaköy, Bab-ı Ali/Sirkeci and Büyükdere. Curator Murat Tabanlıoğlu states “The concepts ‘place/space’ and ‘memory’, that form both the title and content of the first International Architecture Exhibition mark, in a sense, a beginning, as the first step taken in this new space.” He adds “Following the assessment of a long list we formed with Pelin Derviş, we invited five architect/artists we believed we could create a fertile work environment with” and “as in architectural production, our preferred method was to approach the project as a natural process that develops with contributions, although it began to take shape from the first sketches on, and through consideration of all data we had gathered.”

Tabanlıoğlu explains “In order to retain the spatial qualities [of the Pavilion], we preferred to have a self-standing structure in the middle, as a simple but bold gesture. It has a slit in the middle, creating four planes that enable the exhibitors—whose works have different scales of concentration in the areas we selected to work on—to have their own surfaces.”

The curator continues “Along with the governing idea of ‘architecture, not architects’, specifically underlined within this year’s general theme, we kept in step with the guidelines of the exhibition via individual perception, remembering, and narration.”

Places of Memory
—Murat Tabanlıoğlu

“Living in a city like Istanbul—which is experiencing an incredible urban transformation, especially in the last decade—it seems vital to look at what really is happening. Being aware that architecture and the built environment are not solely related to their subjects, but also related to us, in other words, related to our own memories about the place, it seems crucial to ask: what if we lose these? Are we about to lose our own memories? Let’s for a while try to relate to the built environment through our own experiences, through our own past, through a subjective approach to feel what it means to us.”

"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. Edited by Pelin Derviş and designed by Aslı Altay (Future Anecdotes Istanbul) who has also designed the communication materials of the project, the book is now available at the opening of the 14th International Architecture Exhibition in English and Turkish, and is subsequently sold in bookstores.

Excerpts from Places of Memory (Istanbul: İKSV, 2014)

Modalities of the Spontaneous
—Alper Derinboğaz

“Büyükdere is a very ambiguous and recently shaped urban fragment of the city. It is [very] hard to understand what’s exactly happening there since there is no real planning process like we know… In relation to this, I looked at process patterns to understand these intricate moments…
I was trying to trace what was [happening] underneath this current fragmented situation by tracing today’s notions to the past. There are various layers that have caused different situations which range from topography to social values or political maneuvers—and which cause a lot of things to transform. As you are following these tracks you don’t even need to mention the actors, like architects, politicians, urban planners and so on. You can shift your perspective and look at what lies behind them, focus on the static data like topography, infrastructure and other things shaping this dynamic city. Bringing the same factors together, the city becomes the actor itself.”

Agoraphobia
—Serkan Taycan

“The most concentrated area in the city where we can easily observe collective memory is squares. If you look at their historical development process, you can also easily understand how the city has been transformed. But at the same time you know that squares are formed of personal memories. Squares are urban public spaces where the dwellers of the city gather, share ideas, criticise social happenings… they are the places where you meet for your first dates, or are places for protests. The city square is a concentration point of the public memory… The squares in these areas [Taksim-Karaköy, Büyükdere and Bab-ı Ali/Sirkeci] all had significant roles considering the public history of Istanbul… That is why I came to the point of depicting the memory of the city in photography by choosing a distant location where I can easily see everything together in one particular picture. It is like taking an x-ray of the square.”

Reform-Reset-Revisit
—Ali Taptık

“Nostalgia and memory… are two things that somehow feed into each other… I started feeling under my skin that things have changed too much, too fast. And it brings a strange anxiety, a sense of loss… photography itself is a two-sided blade where you always have to deal with an event which you transform and make part of a history via transformation, so it is always subjective, it is always a construction… I [also] have another kind of memory which doesn’t belong to me, when I close my eyes I try to render how this place was 50 or 100 years ago.

I have a certain longing for the past, but I have to represent or capture this without romanticizing it. I can’t do this with singular images. With a constellation of images, I try to relate certain situations about particular places, and also to connect all these different urban areas to each other.”

Recipes No 24 & First Geographies
—Metehan Özcan

“Memory is based on both personal experience and different representations of the building in a context. Once the construction is finished and people start interacting through the building it becomes something else. Layers of images like public and personal photographs form the memory of a building; it is not a singular building anymore… I like to deal with the memory of the user and memory as the representation of identity. Once you move into a house, you design and create the interior space both for your needs and representation of your identity. Even though we define the home as a private space, we can imagine it as the space of the role we assign ourselves in public space. The spatial design we create in our home, the furniture and objects we purchase, construct the definition of not only the person we are, but also the person we want to be… It is often social codes and the proposals of architectural culture that provide guidance for personal decisions.”

Sonicfield-01
—Candaş Şişman

“There are different feelings or senses that help us feel the space… One of the important issues for me in creating the conception of my work is the relationship between sound and space with different scales (macro-micro)… I will record sound from different places but I will not use them as they are. I will try to find out the characteristic structure of sound in these places… try to apply almost a microscopic view to extract the fundamental elements of their structures, and then I will try to create a simulation, a new sound based on the abstraction of the structure… The irregular and versatile structure of sounds that come from a variety of sound sources with different temporalities is another important aspect. In this way, unexpected relationships and structures of sound appear… It is like observing a natural phenomenon, you experience a whole formed of the combination of different possibilites which emerge beyond your control, and you become part of it. At that point, you set your concerns, or your conceptual thinking habits aside, become part of the whole and the flow, and experience the moment.”

Reflecting Modernity: Atatürk Cultural Center
—Pelin Derviş

“It took 23 years for the building [Atatürk Cultural Center, AKM] to open. The foundations were laid in 1946. It took so long due to the economic and political conditions of the period. There are plenty of similar examples in other parts of the world during the same period. In the case of AKM various actors—including architects, design and engineering groups, public, governmental and cultural groups—were passionate about having an opera house for the city. The ups and downs in the planning, construction, and operation of AKM reflected the dynamics of the modernization efforts of the Republic of Turkey as it attempted to create the institutions of a modern state and society.”

Pavilion of Turkey Workshops

A series of panels will be held in the 14th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia with the participating countries. Turkey will participate in this panel with a large international student workshop to be held on Friday, 31 October from 11.00 to 18.00 at Arsenale Corderie. 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 in the workshop programme that includes an exhibition and discussion of student works in Venice during the biennial.

Supporters of the Pavilion of Turkey

The sponsoring persons and institutions that have contributed in providing Turkey with a permanent venue in the Venice Biennale include Akbank, Mehveş-Dalınç Arıburnu, Berrak-Nezih Barut, Ali Raif Dinçkök, Vuslat Doğan Sabancı, Füsun-Faruk Eczacıbaşı, Oya-Bülent Eczacıbaşı, Enka Foundation, Nesrin Esirtgen, Eti Gıda San. ve Tic. AŞ, Can Has, Öner Kocabeyoğlu, MAÇAKIZI, Tansa Mermerci Ekşioğlu, Polimeks Holding, SAHA, Taha Tatlıcı, T. Garanti Bankası AŞ, Vehbi Koç Foundation, Zafer Yıldırım, and Yıldız Holding AŞ.