Pera Museum presented a contemporary exhibition exploring the multi-layered architectural, art-historical and sociological significance of the Galatasaray High School on the occasion of its 150th anniversary. The exhibition curated by Çelenk Bafra took on the name of “school” (“mektep”) in reference to the name of the institution still remembered as and called “the school” by its graduates even today, to the deep-rooted history of the building and its character as a place of education. What does contemporary art have to say beyond the research, publications, exhibitions and events that have already been carried out about this school? Can this school and structure that concerns not only members of the Galatasaray community, but the entire city and even country become a source of inspiration for the artists of our day? The word play in the title School Square both referenced the Galatasaray Square with which the school is inextricably and necessarily intermeshed and envisaged the structure of the Galatasaray High School with its garden and surrounding walls as an intellectual square (an agora, forum) where contemporary artists shall meet and debate. The exhibition attempted to “square”ly expose the school’s interior as seen through the eyes of artists, thus opening it up to the public by way of artistic discussion.
Known for their site and context-specific practices artists Antonio Cosentino, Barış Göktürk, biriken, Burak Delier, Elvan Alpay, Hasan Deniz, Hera Büyüktaşçıyan and Vahit Tuna were exhibiting new works along with Ali Kazma and Cemal Emden’s recent works. Though the insider’s perspective of artists from Galatasaray High and the reflection of their personal experiences on their artistic practices had been considered valuable, being “from the school” was not set as a criterion for exhibition participation. Quite on the contrary, room had been made for perspectives to be brought in by artists looking upon the school, an organic part of the city for 150 years, from the square – namely, from the outside, to those peeking in while passing by, and to those who perhaps live in its vicinity and have it in their thoughts. Rather than providing an art-historical selection of sorts, the School Square Galatasaray exhibit aimed to gaze into the past from the vantage point of the present and passed on new creative products into the future. The ten different artworks or series on display in the exhibition related to the location, function, history and space of Galatasaray High School by means of painting, sculpture, installation, photography, video, sound and performance.
Ali Kazma, Antonio Cosentino, Barış Göktürk, biriken (Melis Tezkan, Okan Urun), Burak Delier, Cemal Emden, Elvan Alpay, Hasan Deniz, Hera Büyüktaşçıyan, Vahit Tuna.
Click here to take a look at İstanbul Research Institute's "A Window to the West:150 Years of the Galatasaray Lycée 1868-2018" exhibition.
Burak Delier and the Galatasaray High School Theater Group, The Bell: Scenes From a Coming School (2018)
HD Video 14’02’’
Courtesy of the artist
Right Hand Images
Ali Kazma, School (2013)
From the Resistance series
HD Video 4’33’’
Courtesy of the artist and IKSV
Hasan Deniz, Wall (2018)
Photography prints in various dimensions
Courtesy of the artist
School Square Galatasaray