Interview: Eda Özdoyuran

Turkish-Swiss curator Eda Özdoyuran is among the latest Istanbul natives to make a name for herself in New York’s art scene. Hot on the heels of her latest show at Edward Ressle Gallery, we caught up with Özdoyuran to talk about her curatorial approach
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What draws you to curating?

Curating is connecting. A curator is first bridging among thoughts, then among viewers. I take great pleasure in telling without using the most conventional ways of communicating. Curating is opening new dialogues between ideas and people in the subtlest of ways. 

Does your dual cultural background and the different countries you’ve lived and worked in impact your curatorial approach?

It most certainly does. Growing up with two strikingly different cultures, Turkish and Swiss, I think I developed two modes of thinking. There are so many layers and nuances in a language and you learn how to shift and riddle in between. If you can do that, you can also shift and connect ideas. Having worked for galleries and fairs both in Europe and the US such as Art Basel, Tefaf and Armory, I believe I developed a multifaceted view which influences my approach today.

Where do you think contemporary art and curation are headed?

I feel contemporary curating is at an exciting point; it does not follow conventions, rules and guides like it did in the past. Exhibitions where the viewers are not solely passive watchers are thought-provoking. It is of pivotal importance to develop such dynamic platforms for exhibiting art in today’s world. The art of today is no longer just a painting or a bronze sculpture; it is leaning towards artistic events, performances, temporary exhibitions that generate ideas. Today, such art cannot be preserved in frames or in plexiglass, but it can be documented. Traditional art produced art objects. Contemporary art produces a circulation of information, which I find intriguing.

I should also mention that at times I am critical about it. How media functions today and how easy it has become to be popular is disappointing. There is a fast pace of unfiltered information circulation, which takes away from the quality of art.

“Traditional art produced art objects. Contemporary art produces a circulation of information”

Did you take a role in organizing or curating such a dynamic platform for an exhibition?

In my latest project ‘53 Orchard’ I transformed a tiny space in one of the oldest and most authentic neighborhoods of New York. Lower East Side is a cultural hub which is inhabited by an eclectic mix of old-school New Yorkers, new immigrants, and young creative crowds. Diversity brings a unique energy to the area that has attracted galleries, boutiques, restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, and independent art spaces. Amid vegetable markets, bodegas, and Chinatown stores, ‘53 Orchard’ presents a boundary-defying attitude and is designated to work with artists to create innovative and ambitious projects from a fresh space.

This tiny space, surrounded by three walls and a window facing the sidewalk, is like a storefront; the viewers are not allowed to enter and there is no one in the space to answer questions. Instead, passers-by are invited to find out more about the project and the work through the link listed on the window. In today’s world, I believe it is significant to create interactive platforms that encourage visitors to be further involved with art.

Can you tell us more about the centerpiece of ‘53 Orchard’?

The work currently occupying the space is Mike Kelley’s 'The Secret' (1999), which consists of three panels. The center panel is a blown-up poster of the fantasy cartoon film 'The Land Before Time: The Secret of Saurus Rock' (1988), flanked by two panels consisting of text that critiques the Clinton Administration’s failure to resolve the healthcare crises of the 90s. The coupling is intended as a a tongue-in-cheek reference to both the Freudian nature of childhood movies and the systematic failure of the American Government to care for its citizens.

Are you interested in political art?

I enjoy political art, insofar as it is not overtly political but tangentially touches upon politics through subtle and humorous approaches.

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