Cappadocia seeking a place on the modern art map


“Everything has its time. The locals will first try to benefit from visitors, and then they will offer them what they have. Sometime later you’ll see artists mixing among the locals, being invited to their weddings.

The comments of the old folks of the town who were just out of a mosque during last year’s festival was worth seeing,” says Kaan Sarı, organizer of the second edition of a modern art festival in the central Anatolian tourist attraction of Cappadocia, famous for its natural rock formations. Sarı was one of the pioneers of the festival’s inaugural edition held last summer, organized by Urgup-based art initiative Fabrikartgroup.

Artwork to descend on the valleys of Cappadocia during this second festival, which kicked off July 10 and will run until July 17, will feature a wide variety of pieces, from sculptures to paintings, photographs to installations and short films to experimental music. Sarı, one of the minds behind the festival, says: “Art circles in Turkey do not only consist of İstanbul. Exhibitions in [city] centers unfortunately cannot go beyond [serving as] a venue built out of four walls for a few [artists]. We should give up self-assertiveness and mix in the public along with our paints and our chisels.” Now more than 70 artists from various countries are mixing among the public at the Second International Fabrikartgroup Art Festival.

This year’s lineup features artists from as far as the Netherlands and Japan in addition to their peers coming from around Turkey. Iranian artists who were already heading in the direction of the Venice Biennale didn’t even ask for travel expenses to be covered by the festival. The only restriction in the festival far from the pressures of galleries and curators is that the artwork to be showcased and/or created at the festival be contemporary.

One of the goals of Fabrikartgroup in launching this festival was to open a museum of modern art in Cappadocia. The municipality lends great support to the museum planned to be built in the Gibos Valley famous for its fairy chimneys. The group however is still in search of additional help. The museum, which will acquire new pieces for its collection when the artists participating in the festival donate works to its permanent collection, will showcase artwork in various media.

A total of 84 artists from different cities and countries came together for last year’s inaugural festival from July 24 through Aug. 5, 2006. The participants stayed in the area for 12 days and, apart from exhibitions, workshops in painting, sculpture and ceramics, experimental music sessions, performances and short film sessions were held. During this period both open-air and sheltered venues around the historic area were used. As a result of the festival the artwork left behind by many artists laid the foundation for the modern art museum to come.