The Road Less Travelled: Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

The Road Less Travelled: Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

Ok, it’s not a place entirely overlooked by tourists, but given all the historic and much-touted sights that the Old Town has to offer, crossing over the bridge to Karaköy to spend an hour or two in the Istanbul Modern isn’t a priority on many people’s sightseeing lists.

A shame, because it’s pretty damn cool.

Well look at that: a bit of Brussels in Istanbul. *claps with glee*

Well look at that: a bit of Brussels in Istanbul. *claps with glee*

Istanbul Modern is 8,000 square metres of funked-up art madness. Located on the banks of the Bosphorus it is home to a permanent collection, various temporary exhibition galleries, a library, a minimalist hipster-lite cafe, a photography gallery, a cinema and a pretty cool gift shop.

Istanbul Modern

The museum also offers interdisciplinary activities to engage young people and artists in the local community and is one of Turkey’s first private repositories. It features many of the country’s established and bourgeoning artists, as well as well-known personalities from around the world.

Istanbul Modern

I enjoy spaces like these more than long established and old-monied galleries and museums. Why? Because I find they’re fresh in their approach of what they include under the umbrella of art and while they look to the old masters and trailblazers to provide a baseline, they don’t shy away from including things that may be considered absurd, strange, “not conceptually arty” enough and all those installations you’re not sure you would ever wrap your head around.
A piece featured in Musibet; part of the first ever Istanbul Design Biennial.

A piece featured in Musibet; part of the first ever Istanbul Design Biennial.

Reality vs. fiction. Welcome to my daily life. More from the Istanbul Design Biennial.

Reality vs. fiction. This is daily life for most of us, no? More from the Istanbul Design Biennial.

Case in point: while I was there there was an exhibition – part of the Istanbul Design Biennial – called Musibet that featured artists whose work focused on the “aestheticization of context and anti-context in design along the axis of the grand transformation.”

*Face palm*

Not sure what that means? Don’t worry, I didn’t either, though I came to learn it was about urban transformation in Turkey and other countries around the world. Pretentious language aside (come on, it is a rather arty farty mouthful) there were many interesting and interactive pieces on display and I found my one hour of designated “museum time” easily turned into two and a half.

Not sure what this is all about, but just go with it.

Not sure what this is all about, but just go with it.

Though I’m no art historian by a long stretch, I enjoy the fact that a lot of contemporary photography and art serves as a mirror, asking us to reflect upon the societies in which we live. Through the conceptual visions that artists draw down we are invited to consider/question many of the things in our personal realities, be they profound or ridiculously rudimentary. At the end of the day touring galleries like Istanbul Modern is a nice way to disconnect from the ups and downs of our daily routines, gain some inspiration and connect with the world (and others ultimately) in a different way.

Especially on a soggy and grey afternoon.

I'm nothing but I'm everything. Heavy. I like it.

I’m nothing but I’m everything. Heavy. I like it.