ZERO. Countdown to the Future in S.U. Sakip Sabanci Museum (SSM), Istanbul
This exhibition opened at the start of the Istanbul Biennale which also coincided with the Art Istanbul Fair in September 2015, and will last until January 2016. I get to go Istanbul on the biennale years in September when it is still summer in Istanbul with the sunny clear skies. The other years I usually go in November and there is a small chance that the weather can be still good but that depends on your luck.
In any case, my good friend Sema always makes time for me and takes me to the Sakip Sabanci Museum (SSM) in Emirgan, the late businessman’s former home, a mansion by Turkish standards,was turned into a fantastic museum building in a beautiful location. The grounds' layout was changed and the building went through extensions to become the museum it is today. And of course I don’t know the point of view of the installers and preparators but they have done a great job because it can house very large installations yet viewed from the street, the building looks the same as before, without having lost its authenticity.
Only once you are inside do you understand how big the place is. A fantastic design, which is leading yet not dictating, easy to follow and not get lost at the same time. You won’t feel like you might have missed out sections, which I pay attention to because I have a terrible sense of direction and hate it to feel that way.
Thanks to my friends who are collection managers and registrars of museums and private collections, as well as the Collection Management class I took in school, I always pay attention to where the A/C vents are located and am usually disappointed in many museums, even the ones with the latest designs. I was very happy to see that at the SSM they are placed in the middle of the false ceilings which avoid direct airflow on the artworks.
The museum is directed by a fantastic director, Dr. Nazan Ölçer, a superb museologist and academic –and classy by all standards, and having studied and taught in Germany I find it quite appropriate that Zero. Countdown to the Future exhibition was arranged to be here through her connections.
Zero is the art movement started by the Düsseldorf artists Heinz Mack and Otto Piene, later also by Günther Uecker, who after the war decided to leave the pessimism which dominated the German art scene and start from Zero; not only in theory and outlook but also in materials and media used. Curated by the Founding Director of the ZERO Foundation Mattijs Visser, the exhibition takes “its name from the countdown until the launch of a rocket. The exhibition brings together over a hundred works in different materials and techniques by the founders of ZERO, Heinz Mack, Otto Piene and Günther Uecker, along with works by notable artists Yves Klein, Piero Manzoni and Lucio Fontana, who served as the spiritual forefathers of the movement” (Zero, Press Release).
Lucio Fontana’s cut canvases, Günther Uecker’s use of nails and Yves Klein’s work in his namesake of "International Klein Blue" are a joy for all visitors of the museum. Otto Piene’s inflatables were seen from the upper level and to be enjoyed from the gallery floor too.
Zero. Countdown to the Future introduces Istanbul audiences to a beautifully curated show with good labeling without being dumbed down --but without being too didactic either, as well as with what sounds like wonderful education programming.
I recommend all to go see this. One might think if you have seen the Zero Exhibition at Sperone Westwater in New York back in 2008 you might not need to, but it includes different artists, and is a different exhibition in a whole other setting.