Summer School at Rhizome, Galeri NON, Istanbul, 2014

Summer school "students"
Summer school “students”

Excerpted from Kaya Genç’s An exciting new show at Galeri Non features contemporary art, a summer school and more, published on Daily Sabah on August 1, 2014. For the original article, click here.

“When you enter Non, you come across Camila Rocha’s “Florikultur,” a group of plants that organically grow in the gallery. “These suspended plants are a visual marker of Florikultur, reminding us of a world that is perhaps artificially kept outside the walls of the gallery space,” the exhibition text informs us. “The plants are not only invited to the space, but are invasive, growing, uncontrolled over time.”


Another interesting component of the Rhizome show is a summer school, the brainchild of Merve Ünsal, an artist, writer and editor based in Istanbul. “Camila and I had discussed the possibility of carrying Florikultur to Non, and I have been excited about this idea from the beginning,” she told me. “It is a beautiful space and its owner, Derya Demir, has a history of hosting such projects with both Non-Stage and her own roster of artists. So, it made sense to host this summer school.”

Ünsal’s summer school has had four sessions so far. “The first session was quite abstract and unstructured; I asked the participants, who came to the event not knowing what was going to happen, what their ideal summer school would be and what they thought of as education for artists,” Ünsal said. “I’m personally invested in the idea of a summer school as I’m an artist who spends or wastes a lot of time thinking about what it means to be an artist and what it means to make ‘work.’ In the absence of a specific studio practice, pursuing a specific medium, I always carry the anxiety of not exactly knowing what will make a better artist.”

True to the rhizome concept, the curriculum of Ünsal’s summer school is constantly changing. “I’m figuring things out as I go,” she said, adding: “This is something that Camila welcomes, as we are able to adapt the summer school to whatever is happening at Rhizome, and it is a situation that doesn’t leave any trace in the space, except for people who are there during the sessions. Rhizome challenges the idea of having an exhibition of objects to look at, and I think that’s how the summer school populates the space.”

In the second session of the school, participants watched Yusuf Etiman’s work, entitled “Kino,” and talked for an hour. The third session was a video screening from UbuWeb, a web-based resource for avant-garde material. “I made a selection based on the horrible current events, focusing on artistic responses to the occupation of Palestine,” Ünsal said. The fourth session was led by Fisun Yalçınkaya and Erman Ata Uncu, two journalists who led a conversation on arts journalism and cultural reporting in Turkey.

Rocha’s positive feedback had been crucial for Ünsal. “I think she has created an environment for other artists and producers to feel comfortable making their own work, following their own agenda. Derya’s giving up of the space during the summer to this project, providing us with logistic support, are invaluable. This is a very initiative-minded thing to do, and I very much appreciate it,” she said.”