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Istanbul - Antwerp. Port City Talks

23.10.2015 - 24.01.2016

The exhibition 'Istanbul - Antwerp. Port City Talks' took place in the MAS | Museum aan de Stroom in Antwerp from 23 October 2015 to 24 January 2016. The exhibition was one of the eye-catchers of the international Europalia art festival Turkey.

Ports spring up where water and land meet. Ports are junctions and meeting places. People from all over the world sail to and from ports. They exchange goods, ideas and dreams. Cities spring up at these cultural junctions. That’s what happened in Antwerp and in Istanbul. Antwerp owes a lot to the Scheldt River and the port. The Golden Horn, a natural inlet on the Bosporus River, was the perfect place to develop a city - Istanbul.
The exhibition 'Istanbul - Antwerp. Port City Talks' uses multimedia installations, archaeological discoveries and striking historic objects to tell the parallel story of Istanbul and Antwerp. Visitors take a multimedia journey along the Bosporus, the Golden Horn and the Scheldt River. What do a port and the presence of water mean to a city? How are port cities experienced, traversed, built… How are things done in Istanbul? And in Antwerp?
A group of Turkish contemporary artists created new works around this theme. They shed new light on the towers of Istanbul and Antwerp via photos, videos and installations. They discuss the docks, cranes and shipyards in both ports and take visitors over the bridges of the Bosporus and through the tunnels under the Scheldt River.

Archaeological masterpieces

In addition to the contemporary works the MAS also exhibits important historical works. There is a selection of archaeological objects from Yenikapı on display for the first time in Belgium. Yenikapı is the oldest port in Istanbul; it was used between the 4th and the 11th centuries. In the remains of 36 merchant ships archaeologists found ceramics, coins and glass from classical antiquity as well as the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Another eye-catcher is a gigantic chain that was regularly stretched across the Bosporus to keep out hostile ships.


The curator of the exhibition is the Turkish architect Murat Tabanlıoğlu. He established ‘Tabanlioğlu Architects’ in Istanbul in 1990 together with Dr Hayati Tabanlıoğlu. The bureau has won several international prizes. Mr Tabanlıoğlu also lectures at various universities and international platforms. In 2014 he was curator of ‘Places of Memory’, the Turkish pavilion at the Architecture Biennale in Venice.

For this exhibition he worked closely with the curator team at the MAS: Asia specialist Chris De Lauwer and maritime experts Jan Parmentier and Jef Vrelust.

About Europalia

Europalia is an international festival that focuses on a country and its cultural heritage every other year. From October to February this festival places every conceivable art form from Turkey in the spotlight: music, visual arts, film, theatre, dance, literature, architecture, design, fashion, gastronomy, etc.

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