Two Winners in Turkey’s First Contemporary Art Competition
By HG Masters
On Wednesday November 7, the winners of the inaugural Full Art Prize were announced at an evening ceremony held in a former textile factory in the Hasköy neighborhood of Istanbul. The jury, featuring Vasıf Kortun, director of research and programs at Salt, Bige Örer, director of the Istanbul Biennial, artist Gülsün Karamustafa and critic Evrim Altuğ, named two recipients of the TRY 25,000 (USD 13,900) prize: Aslı Çavuşoğlu and Işıl Eğrikavuk.
The first of its kind in Turkey, the prize was established to support artists living in Turkey who are 40 years and younger. Following an open call for nominations in early 2011, ten artists were chosen for the shortlist, and their works were displayed at the Hasköy Yarn Factory in November. The jury considered portfolios submitted by the artists comprising work from the last five years. Istanbul’s Pilot Galeri supported the organization of the exhibition, which was accompanied by a publication.
Several of the semifinalists have well-developed practices and already exhibit at galleries and art spaces in Istanbul—such as the young conceptualist Burak Delier whose projects have a left-leaning, activist bent, and Tayfun Serttaş, whose interest in photographic archives has led him to uncover the histories of Istanbul’s minority and marginalized communities. Others, such as Alper Aydın, born in 1989 in the northern town of Ordu, were largely unknown in Istanbul; his Land Art-style interventions on the rocky Black Sea coast, documented in photographs, felt refreshingly untutored.
Of the two winners, Çavuşoğlu, whose diverse practice involves filmmaking and the staging of participatory events, has shown in several exhibitions in Europe this year, as well as being commissioned by the London Frieze Art Fair for one of its Frieze Projects, on view during the fair, in October. The selection of Eğrikavuk, who also exhibits internationally and is an editor at Hürriyet Daily News, was particularly timely given her recent talk-show style performance project Dönüşüm Muhteşem Olacak! (“Change Will be Great!,” 2012), commissioned by Spot Projects, about the controversial re-development of Taksim Square, the nexus of Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district.