Out of the blue, I was invited by curator Tima Jam and Blue Rhino Art Consultancy to join a three weeks residency in Istanbul, ending with a group exhibition. It didn't take me long to accept.
There were 22 other artists from 11 different countries invited. We were supposed to live and work at Vialand Palace Hotel for two weeks. The last week was dedicated to installing our works at a gallery in the Akaratler building in central Istanbul and for the opening. During the stay, there also were several activities planned for us. All costs were handled by the organiser, but we were expected to donate a minimum of our works to their art collection.
Tima met me at the airport, which was a surprise and a relief. Vialand Palace Hotel is a huge hotel with spacious rooms that we shared two by two. It is located a 30-40 minutes taxi ride outside central Istanbul. On top is a shopping mall, and next to it is an amusement park. It was surreal to stay in such an environment for three weeks, but very enjoyable and interesting.
I loved the terrace outside my room. Often I would sit under the huge pillars looking out of the valley and the buildings on the other side. I also used it as my studio space.
One of the first days, me and some of my new friends went downtown to see the sights.
A large storage room was at our disposal for use as studio space. A few of us instead used our rooms. They were all very close by, and every time I would go to the restaurant for a meal, I passed the studio and chatted with some of the other artists. We got to know each other quickly, thanks to the hospitality and warm atmosphere of Tima Jam and her crew.
The community in the group developed quickly. Maybe one reason for that was that the hotel didn't have a bar or serve alcohol, so we had a lot of parties in our rooms that were almost as big suits. Dancing and singing were strongly encouraged.
But we worked too. Here are images and a video of some of the artists in the studio.
And of me at work in my terrace studio.
And, of course, we looked at art. The Istanbul Biennale was on at the time, and there were plenty of great museums and galleries.
We went by bus, and we went by boat out on the Bosphorus strait. And we had a lot of lovely dinners.
A couple of times, we went to the SoHo House because some of us held lectures and workshops there. Our first visit coincided with the horrible and tragic bomb explosion in Taksim. It was scary because we had visited the exact location the day before, and Soho House was only about 800 meters away. They closed off the street outside, and we were stranded in their bar for several hours.
Of course, we often ventured out on our own to enjoy the city.
We did an expedition to Kadaköy on the Asian side.
And went up in the Galata tower.
In our spare time, we entertained ourselves with what that mall could offer. For some reason, bowling agreed with me.
Istanbul is such a magical, messy place!
Finally, there was time for the Don't Bite Me group exhibition at Akaratler. Installing was made by curator Tima Jam and her wonderful crew. The opening was marvellous! So many people and there was an excellent DJ and dancing! My work was on the ground floor of the three-floor gallery in the same room as Dasha Rybina, Mahsa Karimizadeh and Zahra Mohamadi.
Here are images of the works in the exhibition. So much talent! The images are in the order you would encounter the works in the gallery. Exhibiting artists: Horacio Quiroz, Ahoo Hamedi, Sema Barlas, Anastasiia Danilenko, me, Dasha Rybina, Mahsa Karimizadeh, Zahra Mohamadi, Nenad Gajic, Hannes Schauer, Ian Rayer-Smith, Mahdieh Abolhasan, Elif Celebi, Kambiz Sabri, Mauro Di Silvestre, Ehsan Arjmand, Alexander Votsmush, Levent Oyluçtarhan, Noa Ironic, Parisa Taghipour, Mahsa Karimi, Liviu Mihai and Saimir Ahmeti.
After the opening, we all went to a fancy restaurant which also was a club, for dinner and more dancing.
A late pyjamas party for Noa Ironic, who left the day after.
And at last, an official party at the W hotel with drinks and live music, where we also could invite friends.
I am grateful to Tima Jam at Blue Rhino and her wonderful crew for being given the opportunity to be part of this!
Ilayda Secer, Nurşevin, Tima Jam, Dilara Kaya, Başak Kurnaz and Mihriban. Sinan is missing in the picture.
This video, compiled and edited by Mihriban, congenially sums up the feeling of the residency.
I can't resist uploading these great photos of me, taken by photo artist Saimir Ahmeti. You can see how happy I was, a truly wonderful experience!
Most photos in this post are by me, but many were taken by my fellow residents, but which ones I'm afraid I no longer remember.
The magic of Vialand will live in my heart forever!