Most were pessimistic as to whether the 11th edition of Contemporary Istanbul would take place, however the perseverance and strength of the team lead to a strong opening day. VIP events we full of collectors, fashionistas and the glitterati of Istanbul.  Everything you would expect from an art fair, although in this instance it all felt a little staged. The word that kept on being spoken was that of ‘solidarity’ in this case I felt it needed soul. The event ticked so many boxes but as a spectator it felt less together and more a sum of multiple parts. This interview with Ali Güreli, Contemporary Istanbul’s Founder and Chairman, by Clementine Perrins took place in October 2016.

With the political situation in Turkey at present do you feel that the fair represents the uniqueness of contemporary artists?

We of course believe that CI – more than ever – embodies the consolidative power of art and helps to give voice to the individual creations of artists in the face of socio-political challenges. Securing a ground for artistic expression to have a key role in Turkey’s future, we have full confidence in the creativity of the artists to rule over any drawback.
The last edition of CI also proved this strong solidarity we have envisioned at the very beginning with the continuous support we have received from galleries, collectors and especially artists who have all contributed to the successful outcome achieved at the 11th edition of the fair. This dedication inspires us to accomplish even more in the years to come and cement the regional as well as international importance of Istanbul as a cultural centre.
It is this strong sentiment that has kept the fair going, the belief that the event will with stand the political changes that are currently occurring is somewhat difficult to believe, all fairs need a strong buying market and at present it is unlikely to have one in 2017. However the event is to be moved to earlier in the year to coincide with other art events to create an ‘art week’ in Istanbul during September (provisional dates of 12-17 September).

Speaking with Ali Güreli about the change in dates for 2017, I asked him if it will give the organisers more time to create a space that reflects the art that is being produced?

As of 2017, CI will take place in the second week of September during which Istanbul will host various significant art events and we think that this change will create a very positive impact on the overall art scene and contribute to Istanbul immensely. Next year’s edition will be realized with an additional day from September 13th -17th at a time when the art scene t is very active and the city hosts the 15th Istanbul Biennial. Behind this decision lies the very significant objective of re-defining this as the “Istanbul Art Week” on the international art calendar and encouraging other institutions to take part in this collaborative act. We hope that this development will reinforce the significance of Istanbul as a cultural hub and inspire fresh and solid incentives for the international audience to visit the city during this specific period of the year.

Looking to the future of the fair, they have recruited a new Fair Director Kamiar Maleki who will work on the 12th edition of CI in 2017.

Ali Güreli says “With his years of experience in the contemporary art world, as well as a strong family background in collecting and art philanthropy, Kamiar’s direction will enable us to further enhance and refine the fair’s identity and collector following.”

The 12th edition of CI will host a preview day on the 12th September 2017 and will open to the public on 13th and run until 17th September.