Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Covering Contemporary Istanbul

Do Middle Eastern aesthetic values hinder the development of contemporary art? Is the art collector an artist in her own right? Is China set to dominate the world art market? Those are just a few of the provocative questions posed by speakers at Contemporary Istanbul, a high-profile art fair held most recently in November.

The 6th edition of the annual event drew 62,000 art lovers and 2,100 collectors to view works exhibited by 90 contemporary art galleries from 20 countries. Also featured were a series of dialogues between artists, collectors, curators, and other art-world figures, discussions I covered for Selections, a Beirut-based luxury lifestyle magazine. Three of my articles appeared in the "Art Scene" section of the magazine's Winter 2011/2012 issue:
  • "The Culture of Criticism"* - jpg | pdf
  • "Redrawing the Map of the Art World" - jpg | pdf
  • "The Art of Collecting" - jpg | pdf
* Unfortunately, the last paragraph of this article was not included in the published version, leaving the reader to wonder how two panelists could differ on the critic's role when only one was quoted. The end of this piece should read as follows:
Polat and Kahraman also differed on the role the critic should play in society.

“A critic is not a person who says ‘I like this’ or ‘I don’t like that.’ A critic should be working on a philosophical basis, trying to read the work and interpret it. Criticism shouldn’t be directed at the general public,” Kahraman said.

“Criticism is about giving opinions. You should be providing judgment on works of art – this is what criticism is,” Polat argued. “The critic should see himself as part of the audience.”

Friday, February 3, 2012

Istanbul's lindy hop 'dance tribe'

In the minds of most tourists, the words "dance" and "Istanbul" probably conjure up not-terribly-authentic images of belly dancers, or perhaps, for the more culturally astute, the whirling dervishes of the Mevlevi order. Few would likely suspect that they could find a roomful of young Turks enthusiastically doing the lindy hop, a style of swing dance that originated in the Harlem ballrooms of the 1920s and 1930s.

I discovered the Swing Istanbul studio after being approached by the editor of Dance Gazette, the magazine of the Royal Academy of Dance in the U.K., with an assignment to identify and profile an interesting "dance tribe" in the city. My piece about the Istanbul lindy-hoppers appears as part of the cover story for the magazine's February 2012 issue, along with dispatches from a male hula class in New York, a zumba class in Sydney, an experimental-art mecca in Shanghai, and a group of London zombies who just love Michael Jackson.

Read my lindy-hop piece for Dance Gazette: jpg | pdf