Archival Tendencies, Living Memory and Witnessing in the Contemporary Art Scene in Istanbul | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online


The 1990s is regarded as a period when contemporary art gained momentum in Turkey – curatorial discourses in exhibition practices occurred in the Turkish art scene, and the local art scene became a part of the international art scene through the International Istanbul Biennial, private initiatives in art, and art professionals – in line with the globalization and neoliberalism of that time. In this period, memory as a tool for exploring the dialectics of forgetting and remembering has been used critically in artistic practices and exhibitions related to issues of identity, politics of power and multiculturalism. Concurrent with the artistic practices that focus on questions of memory, exhibitions that use archives have come to the fore in the contemporary art scene after the 2000s, including a reinterpretation of the exhibitions in the 1990s. This article addresses the ever-increasing tendencies in the contemporary art scene in Turkey towards using archives, which are primary and rich sources of knowledge production, historical records and hidden collections, in curated exhibitions, with a particular attention to collective memory and witnessing. By focusing on the uses of memory and archive within the art scene, the article argues that curated exhibitions have contributed to art history as a means of reinterpreting and reactivating the past by analyzing selected examples.


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