Nearly 90 years after its transformation from provincial market town to capital city, Ankara, to most foreign tourists, still remains in the cultural shadow of Turkey’s snazzy, onetime Ottoman capital, Istanbul. Yet as Turkey reconsiders everything from the role of the military to the role of Islamic beliefs, a revaluation of Ankara’s role in the country’s modern art scene is also gaining pace.
Better known for bureaucracy than bohemia – its chief attraction remains the mausoleum of Republic of Turkey founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk – Ankara, a city of some 4.6 million people, has long suffered from the insecurity of an artistic understudy.
Back in the 1990s, its artists fled for the more liberal climes of Istanbul, noted Sera Sade, the director of Siyah Beyaz, the city’s oldest contemporary art gallery, founded in 1984. But now, that is beginning to change.
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Justin Vela is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul.