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The 17th edition of Contemporary Istanbul took place in September this year. Featuring 65 leading galleries and art initiatives from 22 countries, let’s dive into the highlights of Istanbul’s key art fair.

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Running from the 17th to the 22nd of September, this year marked the 17th edition of the fair and, for the second time, Contemporary Istanbul welcomed visitors to Tersane Istanbul.

This new venue, located in the historical Ottoman-era shipyards on the picturesque shores of the Golden Horn, was the showroom for a strong line-up of galleries from Europe, the Middle East, North America, Africa, and Asia. Fourteen galleries were participating for the first time bringing new voices and fresh perspectives to the established event.

Miguel Rodrigues, The Seven Year Itch, 2022, Courtesy of Mariana Custodio Gallery.


Overall, Contemporary Istanbul featured 65 leading galleries and art initiatives from 22 countries, with a total of 1,476 artworks by 558 artists. 

According to the organisers, the fair’s preview days were very successful, with galleries reporting strong sales. So overall, a positive outcome for gallery owners, but what were the highlights?

During the fair, an exclusive collaboration was under the spotlight. Contemporary Istanbul’s partner BMW presented a special edition of the BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe created by Jeff Koons and artist talk between Jeff Koons and the Chair of Contemporary Istanbul, Ali Güreli. 

However, it was not all about big names and big cars. With many special projects there was a lot going on at Contemporary Istanbul this year.

Among others, Kim Whanki’s NFT ‘Universe’ (based on a work made in New York in the 70s) was exhibited at LG OLED ART booth, and the new project ‘Spectrum’ ,presented by Artist Güvenç Özel, used an optical and interactive simulation to “embed the audience in digital art forms in real time”.

Indeed, this year art fair included  the innovative and critical, the intriguing and poetic, showing us a complete and varied range of art languages.


Georgia Dymock, Parting Curtains, 2022, Courtesy of JD MALAT Gallery.


An exhibition, ‘The Yard’, featured 27 site-specific installations and sculptures.Including ‘Yes! We’re OPEN’ by Canan Tolon. Referring to the label used by many shops, it played with a deceptive message. While the doors in the installation were all wide open, they were also obstructing one another. Another work was Martin Creed’s new monument to water. To “Water which is needed for life and of which people are mostly made; water which is fun and dangerous, life-giving and life-threatening.”

As part of the ‘CIF Dialogues’ by TAV Passport series, the Contemporary Istanbul Foundation organised a series of public talks and discussions. There was “Testing the Elasticity of the Art Space” - a panel with Federica Beretta, Hou Hanru, Mehmet Even, Melisa Pezuk, and Murat Tabanlıoğlu, moderated by curator Marc Olivier Wahler – and a talk with Tosyalı Holding, focused on upcycling and sustainability.

Additionally, Contemporary Istanbul's main partner Akbank presented the exhibition ‘Other Voices, Other Rooms’, curated by Hasan Bulent Kahraman with works by Clement Valla. By making use of the potential of digital art, Valla adds new dimensions to nature in his work, underlining the obscure and mysterious.


Contemporary Istanbul, Audience at the Jeff Koons - Ali Güreli Talk, 2022, Courtesy of Contemporary Istanbul.


Another was the sculpture-performance Disruption by artist duo ha:ar (Hande Şekerciler and Arda Yalkın), presented by Pernod Ricard Turkey, a partner of Contemporary Istanbul. The duo scrutinized the potential of technology to radically change the concept of art by starting a conversation about the relationships between art, machine, and artificial intelligence.

The 17th edition of Contemporary Istanbul covered a rich selection of works reaffirming its centrality in the world of art fairs.

Cover image: Courtesy of Contemporary Istanbul

Written by: Zoë Rivas Zanello

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