Highlights of the 2nd Istanbul Beyoğlu Cultural Route Festival

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has preserved and maintained the cultural heritage as a whole through its tangible and intangible efforts which are presented to the world through the many important strategic events throughout the year. Among these events, a two-week festival was held last year in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu, long the center of the city’s vibrant arts scene.

Celebrating the arrival of summer and art, the Beyoğlu Culture Road Festival draws attention to cultural, architectural and historical heritage, aiming to introduce different cultural experiences this year. I am very impressed by the exceptional quality of the presentations during the second edition of the festival this year. The artwork on display engages viewers to solidify the magnificence of the festival venues. Let’s take a closer look at the highlights of the exhibits on display at Istanbul’s iconic Atatürk Cultural Center (AKM) as part of the Beyoğlu Culture Road Festival.

Digital exhibition ‘Rumi’

A view of “A Family Portrait” by Büşra Çeğil. (Photo courtesy of Funda Karayel)

Refik Anadol’s digital installation “Rumi”, inspired by Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, can be viewed at AKM Theater Hall – Foyer throughout the festival. Anadol is honored to create a poetic, immersive and multi-sensory work to commemorate the 750th anniversary of the death of one of the greatest poets and philosophers in human history. Inspired by Rumi’s multi-layered philosophical lens through which he interpreted life and the universe, “Rumi Dreams” is an AI-based light and motion show that animates a vast set of valuable archival data from Rumi. This dataset, collected with the generous help of the Konya Metropolitan Municipality, includes scripts of Rumi’s “Masnavi” in 19 different languages, more than 180,000 images of dervish lodges, pages from ancient books and documents , and recordings of Sufi music and performances.

Anadol and his team process this cross-disciplinary dataset emblematic of Rumi’s worldview through machine learning algorithms. The resulting universe of data becomes the building blocks of machine-generated “Rumi Dreams,” a unique perspective from which to view Rumi’s poetic universe on an unprecedented scale. Generating a dynamic multi-sensory performance, “Rumi Dreams” is a compelling artistic expression of the convergence between the sense of light, knowledge and movement, encouraging viewers to find the light that illuminates the world. Anadol’s work will be open to the public for free until June 12.

The youth forge ahead

The exhibition “Young people are on the way” assimilates the long quest of youth in the history of humanity to a journey and opens up a space for representation in our time. Curators Nazlı Pektaş and Ayça Okay did an outstanding job in organizing this impressive event in such a short time. “Young people are on the road” is held in a large space extending to the swimming pool and the pedestrian promenade at the front of the AKM building, the road connecting the cultural center, the open spaces and the stairs. The works featured in the exhibition were produced by young artists between 2018 and 2020. Some of the works had previously been exhibited in other exhibitions, but some are making their debut with this exhibition.

Being on the road is a process. It describes going on, arriving and staying. When it comes to art, production always demands to go on. The young production, which is at the heart of this exhibition, strives to be on the road in a concrete and abstract way.

Notable by young artists

“A Family Portrait” (2022) by Büşra Çeğil, presented in the body of the exhibition “The Youth Are On the Road”, is considered an installation highlighting the concepts of childhood, youth, family and life. ‘membership. This installation, conceived as a family dinner, reminds us of the time spent healing the wounds inflicted on us by our parents, and the conversations we have and continue to have together at the same table after healing our wounds. Focusing on family and bonding forms, the installation reflects the form the artist often uses as a metaphor in his practice with different material displaying the state of merging, disappearing and continuing fluid transformation.


A view of “The Sound of The Ocean” from Caner Kaya.  (Photo courtesy of Funda Karayel)
A view of “The Sound of The Ocean” from Caner Kaya. (Photo courtesy of Funda Karayel)

There are only a few creatures that have a similar staggering effect on preserving the natural balance of the oceans like whales. The last thing these graceful giants need as they grapple with dangers like ocean plastics and noise pollution is endless wrestling with hunter trammel nets.

The consumption frenzy caused by the increase in population in the world brings with it a reckless hunt. In Caner Kaya’s work ‘The Sound of the Ocean’, exhibited as part of ‘Young People Are on the Road’, viewers are meant to associate the effect of pain, which is the final emotion that these living creatures experience when their life is brutally taken away from them, with the shortcomings of composition. While the gaps in the artwork portray the irrecoverable loss, the form itself depicts the fight fueled by the instinct for protection for the lives left behind.


Funda Karayel poses with
Funda Karayel poses with “Rumi Dreams”. (Photo courtesy of Funda Karayel)

The reason this structure was formed with unitary elements is to highlight the permanent structure and inspire viewers to be unifiers rather than disintegrators. Mint green, which forms the color of the artwork, represents peace in the natural habitats of whales. Continuity of peace is only possible as long as these areas are not disrupted

Another installation by Haydar Akdağ, “The Aesthetics of Ready Materials”, interrogates and re-evaluates everyday consumed objects by modifying their areas of use in macro and micro terms. While the artist interprets the materials he uses in his installation in an abstract, dysfunctional, geometric or organic form given the possibilities they offer; it incorporates some industry-standard mass production into a non-repetitive production process. Here, the questioning of the ready material is the idea of ​​reminding viewers of its singular value in a whole and the value of the new position it has taken in forming the whole.

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