We prioritize progress, change, and innovation in every field that provides value for society. Thus, we have been carrying out significant projects in the field of art and culture for many years. Our endeavors target transferring our local and universal heritage to the next generations by ensuring its protection while we reach art-lovers through our projects. We continue to be the torchbearer for the development of contemporary art in Turkey and its availability to the masses and we maintain our support in this regard.
Our community’s health has always been our priority since the start of the pandemic. Following the outbreak in March, we closed the doors of our center until October. We shared our rich archive consisting of events from the past until today with art-lovers through our social media channels. Categorizing them as “Akbank Sanat Is at Your Home” events, we have continued to hold mainly live events and moved all our events to online platforms.
Being founded in order to brand our innovative and visionary identity in the field of art, Akbank Sanat, which holds over 700 events annually, celebrated its 27th anniversary in 2020.
We welcomed the year 2020 with the group exhibition “Regular Insanity” that included the works of 18 national and international artists and was hosted at Akbank Sanat Gallery under the curatorship of Prof. Marcus Graf.
Within the scope of our cooperation with Sabancı University Sakıp Sabancı Museum every other year to create a platform for art-lovers and contemporary artists and art movements to meet, we hosted performance artist Marina Abramović and Marina Abramović Institute, founded by Marina Abramović, this year. The exhibition included video and photographic documentation of performances by the artist, along with live performances developed with MAI and artists who responded to an open call and were invited to the project, as well as a section dedicated to the Abramović Method. Akış / Flux exhibition was open to visitors on 31 January 2020 but was suspended due to pandemic measures and was finally open again to visitors on 30 October 2020. Concurrent with the exhibition Akış / Flux, Akbank Sanat hosted a documentary series approaching the works of Marina Abramović from a historical point of view, as well as a video gallery featuring works in the field of performance, aiming to explore the legacy of performance art shaping its present.
Organized in collaboration with Akbank Sanat and the Painting and Sculpture Museums Association in order to support developments in contemporary art and to encourage young artists, “Akbank 38. Contemporary Artists Prize Exhibition” showcased, under the curatorship of T. Melih Görgün, 17 works by 16 young artists selected by the jury, from 15 October until 21 November 2020.
In December, we hosted the group exhibition titled “6 Artists in Search of a Precedent” with Prof. Hasan Bülent Kahraman as the curator.
With “Contemporary Art Training Programs” that we specifically organized for each exhibition held in Akbank Sanat for 10 years, we provide the elementary, secondary, and high school students with the opportunity to closely know and learn modern artworks. We carried on with these programs until March 2020. 300 students participated in our training programs within the scope of two exhibitions.
We continued our workshops for kids during the pandemic. In addition to our workshops broadcast via the Akbank Sanat Youtube channel every Saturday, we held online talks about art’s contribution towards children’s development together with families and teachers.
We are among the institutions that give wide coverage to digital art in their programs, and our activities and events in this field are not limited to Istanbul. Within the frame of “Digital Art in Campus”, we hold digital art exhibitions, talks, movie screenings, and workshops in different universities across Turkey. On the Akbank Sanat Youtube channel, we started our talk series titled “Digital Art Now” that focuses on the working practices of the local and foreign artists who produce their works by the means offered by the digital expression possibilities during the pandemic.
Attracting a great deal of attention, “Philosophy Seminars”, “Cinema Psychiatry Seminars”, “Contemporary Art / / An Unknown”, and “Curatorship Practices” continued to be held via online platforms in 2020.
Offering a comprehensive international training platform on curatorship, the first edition of “Curating Contemporary Art”, a 7-month long training program, was realized online.
In March, we welcomed choreographer and dance instructor Evangelos Poulinas at Akbank Sanat Dance Workshop. Since the start of the pandemic, we have shared our trainings on contemporary dance technique for kids and adults via our online platforms. Throughout the year, national and foreign choreographers and dancers prepared online mini dance shows.
We also maintained our prestige books series in 2020. We published the prestige book titled “Significant Female Artists” that combined works produced by over 400 female artists from more than 50 countries spanning over 500 years.
People also loved our new podcast project. We allowed listeners to reach the podcasts that are shaped within the frame of different disciplines and subjects from contemporary art to philosophy, from architecture to cinema under the title of “Tune into Akbank Sanat” via relevant platforms.
The year 2020 was particularly important since it was the 30th anniversary of the Akbank Jazz Festival that hosted over 5,000 domestic and international jazz artists until now and reached an audience of over 500,000 people with 773 concerts, 1,000 workshops, and more than 100 interviews in 30 years in an attempt to ensure the transfer of jazz music to new generations. We initiated our concert series under the name of “Yearlong Jazz” to observe this crucial anniversary. With the start of the pandemic, we moved our “Yearlong Jazz” concerts to online platforms under the name of “Jazz State of the House” and held 15 live Instagram concerts. We commemorated our 30th anniversary with a significant archival project, i.e., the “Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow” album. Consisting of 30 original compositions and the performance of nearly 80 musicians, the album was presented to the liking of jazz lovers via 156 digital music platforms on 23 October and at music stores in November, in a boxset format including 3 vinyl records and a 72-page archival book. Keeping in mind the young talents, we ran for the fourth time Akbank Jazz Festival’s JAmZZ Young Talents Competition through which young talents have the chance to hold a “jam session” with Turkey’s leading jazz artists. The talented young jazz musicians ranking the highest had the opportunity to record at the studio and won various gifts.
Creating an effective platform in the field of short films in Turkey, supporting new ideas, and contributing to the short film culture, the 16th Akbank Short Film Festival was planned to be held between 16 and 26 March 2020. We broke new ground by announcing the results of our contest, to which a total of 2,217 short films from 74 countries were submitted, in a live broadcast on the Akbank Sanat Instagram account due to the pandemic. Moreover, we brought the excitement of producing short films to homes during this period when the audience spent time at home. Accepting short films of a minimum of two and a maximum of five minutes produced by the participants at home, we held the “Akbank Short Film at Home Competition” online between 4 May and 4 June 2020 and distributed awards.
We introduced a brand-new platform called “Short Film Channel” to enable cinema lovers to watch short films online within the scope of the Akbank Short Film Festival in 2020, and our audience was able to reach a selection of 8 award-winning national and foreign short films.
For 15 years, we have been supporting Contemporary Istanbul, which contributes greatly to the development of contemporary art in Turkey.
In 2020, we, as Akbank Sanat, participated in the Contemporary Istanbul Art Fair, which was held online between 19 December 2020 and 06 January 2021, with the group exhibition “The Carnival of Corona Diaries” that consisted of works by 11 artists and was curated by Prof. Hasan Bülent Kahraman.