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Dream Research

: The Exhibition Dream and Reality

With the exhibition Dream and Reality-Modern and Contemporary Women Artists from Turkey, İstanbul Modern aims to show Turkey’s social and cultural transformation as seen through the eyes of female artists. The exhibition, which is centered on the position of women in the art world, offers a new, alternative perspective on the sociocultural history of Turkey. 

Curated by Fatmagül Berktay, Levent Çalıkoğlu, Zeynep İnankur, and Burcu Pelvanoğlu, the exhibition includes artworks from the mid-19th century through to the present day and incorporates many different disciplines ranging from painting to video.

The exhibition, which can also act as a summary of modern and contemporary Turkish art, links seventy-four artists: including pioneering women artists about whose lives and works we know very little and whose names are almost forgotten; the rediscovered moderns; and women artists who for the last four decades have been shaping the contemporary art scene with their intellectual attitudes and practical actions.

The exhibition takes its title from the 1891 novel Dream and Reality coauthored by Fatma Aliye and Ahmet Midhat. This romance novel features many of the period’s symbolic characteristics; the first part, called “Dream,” was written by Fatma Aliye and the second part, which emphasises reality, by Ahmet Midhat. Fatma Aliye is featured on the cover of the novel with the pen name “A Woman,” therefore only indicating her gender, whereas the author of the “Reality” section is male.

Taking the novel Dream and Reality as its reference point, the exhibition investigates how women artists turn their dreams into reality and conveys, through visual examples, the relationships women artists establish with the different stratum of reality through their productions. It also explores the place of these relationships in today’s contemporary art culture.

By drawing attention to the works of women artists produced over more than a century, the exhibition aims to remind us of their position in the history of art while making visible the ways in which, through their art, they convey their experiences in the social arena. It also, more particularly, shows their pioneering and critical position in the contemporary art world.

The exhibition opens up to discussion the issue of female identity, which in Turkey has taken shape via diverse sociocultural dynamics. Furthermore, in panels, symposia, and workshops held in conjunction with the exhibition, feminist theory, gender discussions, and women’s studies in Turkey will be analyzed by speakers from different disciplines.

© Yusuke Aoki, all rights reserved