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September 15, 2022–February 12, 2023
The 90s Onstage examines several facets of theater and performance in Turkey’s cultural scene throughout that decade. The exhibition, which spans Salt’s Beyolu and Galata venues, examines both the unique and group endeavors of artists and designers while offering a potpourri of Turkish cultural heritage. The exhibition’s pieces, which were put together from archive materials, showcase a range of production techniques, from live performances to video clips and television shows.
Turkey experienced severe political and economic instability during the 1990s, with eleven coalition administrations forming in 10 years, the 1994 currency crisis, which was followed by “austerity policies,” and an increase in the number of open cases and political scandals. However, the decade’s legacy extends beyond these gloomy incidents; the 1990s laid the foundation for the civil rights movement that flourished in the 2000s. With the aid of independently owned television and music channels that were successively launched, pop culture saw an unheard-of boom. Turkey chose a new path for cultural and economic exchange after the weight of the 1980 Turkish coup d’état subsided and the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989. In stark contrast to the dreary backdrop of the nation, a time of energy began, especially in Istanbul, as the bounds of freedom in the areas of culture, art, performance, and entertainment increased.
At the same period, the “interdisciplinary” idea was given prominence in Turkey’s art scene. The art form of performance provided those seeking modern means of expression with a means of departure from established boundaries and traditional disciplines. On the other hand, the connection between the stage and performance was based on a mutual dependence: as the stage opened up to life, the performance broadened its scope, and as the performance branched out into new media, the stage went beyond the bounds of art.
The 90s Onstage uses the notion of performance as a key point of inquiry into the decade in question, opening multiple avenues of critical interpretation in relation to the history of arts, culture, and entertainment in Turkey. It brings together works by artists Aydın Teker, Burak Delier, CANAN, Esra Ersen, Halil Altındere, Hüseyin Katırcıoğlu, Köken Ergun, Mehmet Sander, Moni Salim Özgilik, Özlem Günyol & Mustafa Kunt, Pilvi Takala and Taner Ceylan among many others. Photographs, posters, and correspondences from certain occasions, such as the Seretonin and Genç Etkinlik [Youth Action] exhibitions and the Assos Performing Arts Festival, are presented with a variety of plays that explore the relationship between art and the street. The archival records for both individual and group performances show how different types of performances intersected in public spaces including parks, bars, historical places, and off-the-beaten-path locations, uncovering linkages that help us comprehend the “stage” more broadly. The show serves as an illustration of how the theater has evolved into an interface for building transient or permanent communities.
Organized as part of L’Internationale’s Our Many Europes project, The 90s Onstage is programmed by Amira Akbıyıkoğlu in collaboration with Emirhan Altuner (Design and Production) and Gül İçel (Project Assistant) from Salt, together with researcher Mine Söyler.
Our Many Europes is a four-year program initiated in 2019 by the museum confederation L’Internationale and its partners, and co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union. L’Internationale gathers seven major art institutions: Moderna galerija (MG+MSUM, Ljubljana, Slovenia); Museo Reina Sofía (Madrid, Spain); MACBA Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain); Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen (M HKA, Antwerp, Belgium); Muzeum Sztuki Nowoczesnej w Warszawie (Warsaw, Poland); Salt (Istanbul, Turkey), and Van Abbemuseum (VAM, Eindhoven, Netherlands), which team up with HDK-Valand Academy (Gothenburg, Sweden), and the National College of Art and Design (NCAD, Dublin, Ireland).
Salt is a non-profit cultural institution serving the public that was established in 2011 by Garanti BBVA. Its activities include research, exhibitions, publishing, web projects, and public programs. The organization works in the nexus of various academic fields, including visual arts, architecture, social life, and economic history. Salt Research’s library and archive offer public access to the organization’s print and digital resources while also fostering local and regional memory through its growing holdings.
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