Protestors storm stand at Contemporary Istanbul over sculpture depicting last Sultan
Censorship row at Turkish art fair as work by Ali Elmaci inflames local religious group
4 November 2016|
According to the culture website Sanat Atak, a group of around 20 men from the conservative organisation Erbakan Foundation, demanded that the piece be removed. The work has since been withdrawn.
Elmaci says in a statement: “I have followed the reaction towards my work exhibited as part of Contemporary Istanbul, and have decided to withdraw it in order not to create further tension, which wears out our society to a great extent, especially during the current situation of our country.”
Ali Güreli, the chairman of Contemporary Istanbul, says: “Unfortunately last night, a small group of individuals approached Isabel Croxatto Galeria, to express their discontent [regarding] a work by Ali Elmacı depicting the last Ottoman sultan, Abdul Hamid II and to request its removal.”
Güreli stresses that “artistic expression must be supported, celebrated and encouraged. We have always been opposed to censorship and support the gallery in their selection as well as the artist, who has exhibited his work at Contemporary Istanbul in previous editions.”
The 11th edition of the fair (until 6 November), at Lütfi Kırdar ICEC Rumeli Hall and Istanbul Congress Center, includes 70 galleries from 20 countries. “Contemporary Istanbul provides a strong platform for art from the region,” Güreli says.