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Encounters on the Bosporus:
Blind Date Istanbul presents new acquisitions to the Deutsche Bank Collection

The Orient meets the Occident: the exhibition "Blind Date Istanbul" ventures an unusual experiment, combining current new acquisitions to the Deutsche Bank Collection with Ottoman calligraphies from the famous Sakip Sabanci Collection. In the historical surroundings of a former villa situated on the Bosporus, Franz Ackermann meets Mustafa Rakim, Eva Hesse Hasan Riza.

Franz Ackermann, untitled (mental map: bayview), 1994
Deutsche Bank Collection

Mustafa Rakim, untitled calligraphy, late 18th - early 19th century
Sakip Sabanci Müzesi

The former residence of the industrial magnate Sakip Sabanci lies at the center of Istanbul's Emirgan quarter. Surrounded by a magnificent garden, the villa has served as a museum of Ottoman calligraphy since 2002. Now, the show Blind Date Istanbul can be seen in the historical residence with a view to the Bosporus – probably one of the more unusual exhibitions the Deutsche Bank Collection has ever presented itself in. Blind Date Istanbul departs from the path of conventional art presentation to risk an experiment: in approximately 50 pairs, curated by Nazan Ölzer and Dr. Ariane Grigoteit, Ottoman calligraphies encounter the primarily abstract works from the largest corporate collection worldwide to engage in a dialogue in which art from the present and the past, the Orient and the Occident meet and the history of a city is juxtaposed with the history of a collection.

Francis Alÿs, untitled (from: When Faith Moves Mountains), 2002
Deutsche Bank Collection

Faik, untitled calligraphy, 1903
Sakip Sabanci Müzesi

Istanbul was a very deliberate choice for this show. Europe and Asia are only 660 meters apart from one another on the Bosporus, and for many centuries, the city has witnessed a rich exchange between east and west. Yet the booming metropolis is not just a financial center; it is also Turkey's cultural hub. The modern city of 16 million inhabitants has more to offer than its testimonies to a splendid past, such as the Hagia Sophia or the Topkapi Palace. Increasing attention has been paid to contemporary art here over the past several years. Istanbul's internationally connected art academies are supported by a series of recently founded significant institutions: following the opening of Istanbul Modern in 2005 as the first museum for contemporary art, a highly successful contemporary art fair followed last year, while a number of young galleries have established themselves on the scene in the Beyoglu quarter. The Istanbul Biennale is widely regarded as one of the more renowned of its kind and is currently celebrating its 10th anniversary. But collectors' initiative is also responsible for the fact that the city is increasingly perceived as a lively center for art. The Sabanci Museum is privately financed, while the Istanbul Modern, which has quickly become a meeting point for the international art scene, is run by the Eczacibasi family.

Eva Hesse, untitled, 1961
Deutsche Bank Collection

Hasan Riza,
Physical Characteristics of Mohammed, 1905
Sakip Sabanci Müzesi

The Deutsche Bank Collection responds to this atmosphere of emergence. Last year, as the art fair's main sponsor, it celebrated the premiere of Contemporary Istanbul; now, it presents select new acquisitions in Istanbul for the first time. For Blind Date Istanbul, the director of the Sabanci Museum, Nazan Ölcer, who previously ran the Museum for Turkish and Islamic Art for 25 years, chose mainly current works from the bank collection to juxtapose with a selection of priceless calligraphies from the museum's collection. Calligraphy, the "art of writing beautifully," developed early on into an art form with a surprising multitude of possibilities. It arose out of the Moslem faith, which prohibits a pictorial representation of humans. Its medium is the Arabic alphabet. The oldest works shown in the exhibition date from the 16th century, the youngest from the mid-20th century. The works from the Deutsche Bank Collection begin with Ernst-Ludwig Kirchner's Bahnhof Königstein from 1917; the focus of the selection, however, is on works of recent contemporary art such as Sylvie Fleury's sculpture Mushroom, made in 2006, or drawings by Julie Mehretu and Francis Alÿs.

Matt Saunders, Udo, 2004, series of 63 works
Deutsche Bank Collection

Anonymous, untitled calligraphy
18th -19th century
Sakip Sabanci Müzesi

In Blind Date Istanbul, unusual juxtapositions make unexpected aspects visible. The course of the exhibition leads to a fascinating encounter between the Orient and the Occident – with surprising art historical influences, parallels, and differences between the two cultural spheres. Nazan Ölcer however sees more in the show than an interesting aesthetic rendezvous among generations, movements, concepts, and styles. To her mind, Blind Date Istanbul also sets a milestone in museum politics: "One that marks the path for future cooperative projects with institutions in London, Paris, and Berlin."

Sylvie Fleury, Mushroom, 2006,
Deutsche Bank Collection

Blind Date Istanbul
Sakip Sabanci Müzesi/Museum
Istinye caddesi 22, Emirgan

Open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Wednesday: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Closed Monday.

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