SALT BEYOĞLU REOPENS IN ISTANBUL
By HG Masters
After more than two years of closure, SALT Beyoğlu reopened its doors onto Istanbul’s famed pedestrian street, İstiklal Caddesi, on April 17. Perhaps a nod to the temporal disruption, “Continuity Error” was the title of the exhibition that filled three floors of the building, including the street-level Forum space. The survey of artists and collaborators Aydan Murtezaoğlu and Bülent Şangar, two prominent figures in the emergent Istanbul art scene of the 1990s, was curated by Merve Elveren, and marked a return to form for the institution known for research-driven shows of art and architecture framed in the context of 20th and 21st century Turkish social history.
Several of the building’s changes were immediately evident. The walls of the exhibition spaces upstairs—previously large, raw plywood boards—were painted white, and several more of the former apartment building’s original ceilings had been exposed. The bookstore Robinson Crusoe 389 now occupies the first floor, a space that had previously been used for exhibitions. The top-floor winter garden was renovated, with a rammed-earth floor and small tables and chairs. Yet many of the building’s features were the same, such as the original marble staircases, and dedicated spaces that were created in the first renovation of the building before its first opening in April 2011, like the Walk-in Cinema, with its bright-red, movable cushion-seats.
Since SALT Beyoğlu ceased programming in late 2015 and shuttered its doors in January 2016, “for technical reasons”— allegedly due to an anonymous complaint to the prime minister’s office, and over questions about its permits for operating in the historical building—the institution has continued to hold exhibitions and programs in Istanbul, in the SALT Galata building, and at locations in Ankara, even after closing of the SALT Ulus building in the capital. However, SALT Beyoğlu is the organization's largest space for exhibition-making, and its reprisal restores a major cultural venue to the city.
HG Masters is editor at large of ArtAsiaPacific.
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