LUXOS sits down with one half of the dynamic couple behind the city's hottest arts and culture festival


Turkey Editor

27 September 2012

In the of summer 2010, Istancool brought an influx of artists, novelists, photographers, filmmakers and other personalities in the international creative arena to a Turkish audience in Istanbul. In three short days filled with screenings, interesting talks, panels and lavish dinner parties, Istancool established its role as the definitive arts and culture festival in town.

The organization that puts on Istancool is ISTANBUL’74, which was founded by Demet MüftüoÄŸlu EÅŸeli and Alphan EÅŸeli in 2009. ISTANBUL’74 also publishes 74 Gazette, an arts magazine and STUDIO’74, a design office. Demet MüftüoÄŸlu EÅŸeli spoke to us about their exciting new project.

How was ISTANBUL’74 born?
We started ISTANBUL’74 with the idea of conveying Istanbul’s cultural spirit and wealth to the world, and in return bringing the best examples in the international arts and culture platform to the city. ISTANBUL’74 is an effort to introduce Turkish talent to the world with its inspiring yearly exhibition schedule while keeping close ties with the international arena.

To attain this goal, how have you collaborated with international galleries and institutions?
Our main ambition is to reinforce the proliferation of world-wide artist collaborations with the platform we are creating. It makes us really happy to see the prominent figures of our age meeting young and talented people, and these meetings come to fruition. Among our collaborators are Jefferson Hack, the founding editor of Another and Dazed&Confused magazines, and Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld, one of the youngest and most innovative curators of our time, with whom we’ve organized a show for the French artist Nicolas Pol. Sandro Kopp had his first solo show with us and then we took him to New York, now we’re taking him to London’s Frieze Art Fair.

We also did a show called “Larger Than Life” for the groundbreaking Visionaire magazine. We organized events with “Grand Classics,” which focuses on sharing classics of the cinematic canon with a larger audience. We continue to collaborate with Grey Area, New York’s most hip online and concept store. Now next in line is a special exhibition by the acclaimed accessories and jewellery designer Waris Ahluwalia.

What is your view on Istanbul's growing importance on the arts scene?
In the last few years, we’ve witnessed Turkish artists’ works breaking records at Sotheby’s and Christie’s auctions. Istanbul already had a great deal of potential as an art capital, but the opening of Istanbul Modern, Arter and other institutions put the city on the global art map. Obviously, the Istanbul Biennial has been one of our core strengths since 1987.

The idea to create ISTANBUL’74 took shape in the face of these encouraging factors: in addition to our rich heritage and unique culture, an emerging independent contemporary art platform and a vibrant economy gave us the ground to realize our dreams. Today, as the world gets smaller, existing cultural centres inevitably begin moving around, questioning the order and trying to establish new poles of attraction.

What was your favourite featured talk from the last three editions of Istancool?
Among this year’s panels, my favourite was the conversation between Jefferson Hack and Pınar Yolaçan – an inspiration to all those who watched a contemporary artist revealing the depths of her imagination. Legendary names like Gore Vidal and Terry Gilliam showed us their immense knowledge and different points of view.

Could you tell us about your Istanbul?
I believe in going beyond the obvious and rediscovering this city all over again. Among my favourite places are the historical Karaköy district, where our offices are located, its restaurants, Suna’nın Yeri in Kandilli, Münferit and Mangerie. I like shopping at V2K Designers, Yastık by Rifat Ozbek and Haremlique.

Give us a hint about the next festival!
It’s still too early to announce any names, but all I can say is that Istanbul International Arts and Culture Festival is growing day by day. We’re thrilled to be able to invite the creative world to this wonderful city and act as a bridge between the creative minds in Turkey.

KemankeÅŸ Caddesi Galata Åžarap Ä°skelesi Sokak,
Süha Fazlı Han 8/3,
Karaköy, Istanbul
Tel. +90 212 2433 948