Art Media Lab

The new meeting of ArtWriting Turkey Project took place at Mixer on June 27th Saturday. At this panel called Art Media Lab we discussed the role of art writing in mainstream media, which is influenced by many factors, with actors who actively participate in writing process.

After organizing various seminars and workshops with various art writers and critics, this time Mixer hosted Cumhuriyet Newspaper’s Culture and Art Department Coordinator Evrim Altuğ; Birgün Newspaper’s Culture and Art Editor Canan Aydın; Istanbul Art News’s Executive Editor Yasemin Bay; Radikal Newspaper’s writer Cem Erciyes; and founder of Sanatatak Ayşegül Sönmez. The panel called “Art Media Lab”, where the place and role of art writing in mainstream media was put on the table, took place on June 27th at Mixer’s gallery space in Tophane.

It was determined that the developments such as art writing’s becoming visible in mainstream media, art newspapers’ being published on a regular basis and art’s becoming visible digitally through various channels, were all serious gains for Turkey.

Ayşegül Sönmez compared art writing to being a translator. She said that art writers also transmitted their emotions to the viewer via tools, translated the message that will be delivered and she also emphasized the importance of the language being understandable by everyone if these translations were to be published in mainstream media.

Yasemin Bay emphasized that she avoided using a language that is redundant and full of references, that she approached the subject with her journalism reflexes rather than her personal affiliations and that she described what she understood from an artwork, artist, a project or exhibition in her writing.

The misinterpreted concept of ‘criticism’ in Turkey was one of the matters that were investigated during the panel. It was mentioned that the word was stained and that the ‘critique’ should not always have to be negative and that it should be understood as a topic being opened for further exploration. In this content, art criticism was defined as trying to vocalize anything that is visible to the eye. It was also emphasized that in order to criticize art, knowledge of history is mandatory and a successful art critic should be fed from many fields such as sociology, anthropology and archeology.

Cem Erciyes added that the profile of the reader should also be taken into consideration, while forming the subject of the text and relating to it. While Canan Aydın agreed with Cem Erciyes, she also added that the importance of the relation with the mainstream media from the journalism perspective and that the way they handled the news was troublesome and the fact that this prevented being an efficient publication in long term by ‘charming’ the reader in such way.

Yasemin Bay mentioned that there has not been an exhibition that did not give reference to political environment recently. Because of this, political environment can be included in culture and art news which can adapt to the political agenda and that this is an already existing situation, even though it was not fully intentional.

Ayşegül Sönmez stated the need for plurivocality, as well as the evolution within the writer and trying different and subjective languages every time.

One of the highlighted subjects was that digital publications were more successful due to giving the opportunity to make changes in writing and thus being more successful at publishing up-to-date information, even though written media publications are taken more seriously by the reader. Another evaluation that was made was that the role of social media formations in the larger picture should not be underestimated.

The responsibilities of AICA-TR, The International Association of Art Critics' Turkey Branch, were also among the topics that were mentioned during the talk. The panelists said that AICA-TR was responsible for organizing and improving the current conditions of art critics, that it is not responsible for raising new art writers. Therefore, art critics’ forming a profession-bases organization can be a positive improvement, the panelists said.

Lastly, Evrim Altuğ emphasized that small and medium sized institutions should benefit from independent funds for projects like art writing. The fact that the definition of the mainstream media has changed, the difficulty of trying to get a hold on culture and art from a single channel, therefore the insufficiency of meeting with the readers via newspapers only and the importance and the role of future content producing platforms were among the many subjects that were mentioned throughout the talk.