Fulya Erdemci, the Turkish curator and former director of the Istanbul Biennale, has died

Fulya Erdemci, a successful Turkish curator and representative of the country’s contemporary art scene, has died of cancer. Reports of her death were confirmed on social media by the Istanbul Biennial, of which she was director from 1994 to 2000.

Erdemci was born in 1962 and studied at both Boğaziçi University in Istanbul and Columbia University in New York. Early in her career she showed a passion for art, urbanism and the geopolitics of Istanbul. In 2002 she launched the Istanbul Pedestrian Exhibitions, a pioneering public exhibition in Turkey. and co-curated a second iteration in 2005 with Turkish-Swiss contemporary artist Emre Baykal.

Erdemci was a force at the international fairgrounds. She curated the Turkish Pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale. In 2013, she served as curator for the 13th Istanbul Biennial, which manifested her vision of public space as a political forum in the protests in Gezi Park next to the Biennial exhibition space in Taksim Square . That same year, she returned to the Venice Biennale to participate with other Turkish curators, artists, and art promoters in protests against the brutal response to the Istanbul protests. In 2002 she curated the Bienal de São Paulo; 2007 the Moscow Biennale; and the 2008 Biennial of Public Art in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Erdemci lived between Istanbul and Amsterdam and has been the director of the SKOR (Stichting Kunst en Openbare Ruimte) Foundation for Art and Public Domain in Amsterdam since 2008.

In 2020 she was appointed curator of the KØS Museum of Art in Public Spaces in Denmark. “For me, the public space is where the event takes place: society meets, different thoughts are juxtaposed and the dialogue begins,” she said back then. “Today we are experiencing ‘a new normal’ that is presenting the art world with new challenges. We need to expand ordinary exhibition formats and our notion of social life and interaction.”

Erdemci will be unmistakably remembered for her commitment to the relationship and confrontation between contemporary art and public space. Speak with Metropolis M In 2008, through her work at SKOR and her philosophy on the transience of public space, Erdemci articulated the tension that guided much of her career.

“Most contemporary artworks are not meant to be there forever, artists want to relate their work to a situation, a moment, people and a specific context that changes over time,” she said. “That’s a challenge for the artist, but it’s also a challenge to see what kind of experiments can be done in this regard.”

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