BLOK art space Büyük Valide Han I “Both Sides”, Cansu Çakar

“Interconnected” (detail), Cansu Çakar, 2016

“Both Sides”
Cansu Çakar
23.10.2016 – 28.01.2017

BLOK art space is set to open a new venue that will collaborate with its main location in Çukurcuma on artistic works, projects, and events. Constructed by the order of Kösem Mahpeyker Valide Sultan in the 17th century, Büyük Valide Han in Mahmutpaşa is known as the biggest inn of Istanbul. Located in one of the 210 rooms of the inn, BLOK art space’s new venue in Room 53 invites viewers to explore periodic contemporary art projects, performances, site-specific art installations and researches, seminars, and artist workshops.

Once the resting spot for merchant caravans, today Büyük Valide Han features various working spaces, including shops, offices, and workshops. Carrying a political, sociological, and religious importance, alongside its economic function, the inn has welcomed various cultures from various regions throughout time. Physical and functional changes to Büyük Valide Han during its time had also allowed the inn to get accommodated with social and economic variations across centuries. One of the prime examples of Istanbul’s multi-layered and profoundly historical essence, Büyük Valide Han will allow BLOK art space to partake in this monumental inn’s existence, as well as helping the gallery expand its activities in contemporary art, currently gathered under the roof of its main location. The opening of BLOK art space Büyük Valide Han will be hosting artist Cansu Çakar’s “Both Sides” exhibition which will be open to visit between 23 October 2016 and 28 January 2017.

Artist Cansu Çakar continues creating connections between the past and the contemporary with her miniature technique, this time with Büyük Valide Han’s memory as her point of origin. Through her in-depth research of the inn’s history and the Iranian culture that influenced it for decades, Çakar initiates a new process of archiving and research at Büyük Valide Han by showcasing the similarities and differences between Mani religion and contemporary politics. Offering a glimpse into the traditions and rituals involving Büyük Valide Han, called Mader Han by Iranians, Çakar also emphasizes on the way in which the inn can be studied, and takes the viewer on journey through the historical layers of the inn’s recollection.

Artist explains the starting point of her research as; “Sitting on a thousand year old rug for a thousand years is the manifestation of a grievance we hold within. Fleeting if startled, our culture we reluctantly call dynamic continues in its undeserved decoration. No one can tell of the centuries passing by from the layers of constructions, nor the scenery photographs of Istanbul that reveal the dark side of the new culture politics.‘Both Sides” travels beyond the associations and relations of Büyük Valide Han’s history, and reconnects with the ancient belief system of Manichaeism that we found within the traditions it bore witness to, by hoping to give a salute to Mani Prophet, that chose to describe his religion with paintings, instead of speech or writing.”

Mercan Mah. Büyük Valide Han Kapı: 53








photo by Sahir Uğur Eren