Thursday, March 10, 2016

New exhibit seeks to start filling some of Anatolian history's 'Empty Fields'

More than a century ago, botanist John Manissadjian roamed the countryside of what is now northern Turkey, collecting — and sometimes identifying for the first time — thousands of species of flowers and other plants, as well as butterflies and moths. These finds formed the core of the natural science museum he established at Anatolia College, a school for Greek and Armenian students in the Ottoman Empire.

“Manissadjian’s labour of love was such a sophisticated collection, started in the last decade of the 19th century,” says Vasif Kortun, director of research and programmes at Istanbul-based cultural institution SALT.

Sadly, within just a few decades, the museum and its collection were doomed to disappear, dispersed, along with Anatolia College’s students and professors, following the mass expulsion of Armenians from Ottoman lands in 1915.

Now, curator Marianna Hovhannisyan is working with SALT to bring some of Manissadjian’s scholarship back into focus in a new exhibition...

The challenging, deeply researched exhibitions at Istanbul cultural institution SALT are nearly always worth seeing. I previewed SALT's latest show, "Empty Fields," on view at SALT Galata in Karaköy until 5 June, for the March/April issue of Selections magazine, speaking to the exhibition curator as well as the institution's research director.

Read the rest of my exhibit preview, "Filling the Empty Fields," on Selections' website.

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