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Studio Bosporus


Studio Bosporus. Festival for the 10th Anniversary of Tarabya Cultural Academy

With the nationwide Studio Bosporus Festival from 3 September to 31 October, Tarabya Cultural Academy will focus on German-Turkish dialogue. The festival looks at the political situation in Turkey as well as Germany’s pluralistic society. The occasion is the 60th anniversary of the recruitment agreement between Germany and Turkey as a central commemorative date for social diversity, and the 10th anniversary of the artist residency program on the Bosporus.

Tarabya Cultural Academy in Istanbul
Tarabya Cultural Academy in Istanbul, Photo: FluFoto

Tarabya Cultural Academy

Tarabya Cultural Academy is a residency program in Istanbul for artists of all disciplines. It was founded in 2011 on the initiative of the German Bundestag to promote artistic exchange between Turkey and Germany. Every year Tarabya Cultural Academy enables around 20 artists who live and work in Germany and German-Turkish artist tandems to network with the Turkish cultural scene under the auspices of coproduction grants, grants, which are awarded in cooperation with the Allianz Kulturstiftung. The Cultural Academy is domiciled at the site of the historic summer residence of the German ambassador in Tarabya (Istanbul). It is run by the German embassy in Ankara, and its curatorial projects are supervised by the Goethe-Institut. Since the first residents arrived in 2012, over 100 outstanding artists have worked on their projects at the Tarabya Cultural Academy.


Michelle Müntefering

Dear visitors to Studio Bosporus,

2021 is a very special year for German-Turkish relations. October marks the 60th anniversary of the German-Turkish recruitment agreement. The people who came to Germany under this agreement have enriched our country. Without them, the economic miracle would not have been possible. What has grown over the past 60 years is something unique. It shows that, in the end, it is people who connect us.That is why we founded Tarabya Cultural Academy ten years ago. It allows artists from Germany to live in Istanbul for a time and to work on their project ideas. The residents process their impressions and encounters in works that stimulate reflection. They deal with the current situation in Turkey and Germany and also with the complexity of German-Turkish relations.

To date, over a hundred residents have enjoyed the marvelous experience of such an exchange. Last year, co-production grants for Turkish-German tandems were added. The Cultural Academy has thus become even more of a place where things we have in common arise, in the arts and beyond. That this has been possible despite difficult circumstances, not least the coronavirus pandemic, is thanks to the immense commitment of all those taking part.

I am convinced that we need places like Tarabya Cultural Academy more than ever today. Questions of privilege and gender equality, of belonging, exclusion, and representation – these are all issues that concern us. They call for social and artistic reflection.

This works, however, only if art is free: freedom of artistic expression and personal freedom of the artist. Today these freedoms are under pressure worldwide. Something has slipped. In some places the ground has turned to quicksand. It is all the more important that, in the Cultural Academy, we have a space that allows artistic freedom and offers an anchor point for exchange in civil society.

I would therefore like to thank all of you who have made this project possible through your work. I am looking forward to a festival of encounters in this 10th year of Tarabya Cultural Academy, and I hope it will bring societies in our countries even closer together.

Michelle Müntefering
Minister of State for International Cultural Policy and Chairwoman of the Academy Council

Please find other members of the Tarabya Cultural Academy Council here

Johannes Ebert

The Founding of the Cultural Academy

It was in October 2011 that Tarabya Cultural Academy first saw the light of day. After intense debate, in which the members of the German Bundestag played a very active role across party lines, the cornerstone was set for the success story of Tarabya Cultural Academy as a joint project of the Foreign Office and the Goethe-Institut. The then President of the Goethe-Institut, Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, together with the former Minister of State at the Foreign Office, Cornelia Pieper, inaugurated the residence on the Bosporus.Since then a lot has happened, and today at the Cultural Academy in Istanbul pens pass daily over the manuscripts of the next film script, poem or novel, the studios smell of fresh acrylic paint, the tea house is being worked with sandpaper and the rehearsal room resounds now with the saxophone, now the drums, now singing. The Cultural Academy has created a German-Turkish meeting place of great attraction.

It is the great privilege of Tarabya Cultural Academy to be a safe space for contemplative work away from the hustle and bustle of the city of 18 million people and at the same time an ideal point of departure for the metropolis – for artistic inspiration and for encounters with Istanbul’s uncommonly lively cultural scene and its great interest in mutual exchange. Although the residencies come with no obligation to produce works during tenure, the results, whether poetic, choreographic, cinematic or artistic, are so compelling that it seems as if this combination of seclusion, the opportunity of networking and open-endedness is just the right mixture. Among Tarabya’s Turkish partners, too, expectations are high and the interest in exchange unwavering.

The relationships between Germany and Turkey are special – that is particularly clear this year as we commemorate the signing, 60 years ago, of the “guest worker agreement”. Against the background of these historical links, and engendered especially by the numerous people in Germany who come from Turkey, a closely meshed and highly diverse network of relationships has emerged. Particularly in these politically tense times, the long-standing cultural cooperation between our countries makes initiatives that seek to build on and develop commonalities more needed than ever. In a multipolar world, in which different attitudes, narratives and values clash, international cultural exchange, which is based on the premises of freedom of expression and the independence of science, scholarship and art, is essential. Here we must therefore prove our ability and willingness to build bridges and reach a better understanding of each other. In this the Goethe-Institut sees itself as a trustworthy mediator, as an enabler of dialogue and as a guarantor of artistic freedom.

With “Studio Bosporus. Festival for the 10th anniversary of Tarabya Cultural Academy”, we celebrate the Academy’s success story. I would like to thank the 106 alumni who have remained closely linked to us since our opening in 2011 and have filled the idea of the Cultural Academy with life. And my very cordial thanks to the dedicated members of the Advisory Council and the Jury for their outstanding cooperation!

Johannes Ebert
Secretary-General of the Goethe-Institut and member of the Advisory Council of Tarabya Cultural Academy

Dr. Feo Aladag

The unconditional will to dialogue

Open the gates of Tarabya Cultural Academy with its idyllic location right on the water, and you are in the midst of Istanbul; close them again, and the grounds are an ideal retreat to process what you have experienced. This is where novels and screenplays are written, films are made, contributions to biennials hatched, contemporary music is composed, and enduring creative bridges between German and Turkish artists are built.Art and culture always begin with an idea. The idea of Tarabya Cultural Academy is to give artists and creative people a space – a space for encounters and creative exchange. Openness is the answer of so many artists to entrenchment. It is the answer to walls in our heads and in politics – the answer to what needs to be bridged: our supposedly insurmountable differences. Because nothing connects us humans as much as what touches our hearts: music, poetry, performing arts, universal images and the desire to connect with each another. Art and culture stand for communication in its clearest form. The pandemic has put all of us, especially artists, to a severe test. And it has come at a time when the spaces for free expression and unprejudiced encounters are narrowing noticeably.

Tarabya Cultural Academy creates the opportunity for encounters and exchanges, not least through the Turkish-German co-production grants. As a jury, we are looking for strong artistic voices whose creative concerns seem imperative to us. The selection is always a mixture that ranges from established artists to new talents, from people who have a strong biographical connection to Turkey to those who have none at all. Increasingly, we as the jury have to ask ourselves: Are we endangering these powerful, diverse voices by aiding them in the production of their artistic universes in a world where repression holds so much influence over the creative climate? What guides us as a jury is also the core motivation of the Tarabya residents whom we have selected – the unconditional will to dialogue.

Where diplomacy and politics overwhelm us, art has a duty. Is this obligation too demanding for culture and cultural exchange in times of crisis? No, it is the service to which we commit ourselves when we create and promote culture. All the residents and all the members of the jury of Tarabya Cultural Academy rise to the challenge of this service.

Dr. Feo Aladag, producer and filmmaker, chairwoman of the jury (since 2014)
Julia Hülsmann, jazz pianist & composer, deputy chairwoman of the jury (since 2014)
Dr. Yilmaz Dziewior, Director, Museum Ludwig Cologne (since 2019)
Dr. Rainer Hermann, Islamic scholar and journalist, FAZ (since 2017)
Esra Küçük, Executive Member of the Board of Trustees, Allianz Kulturstiftung (since 2019)

Former Jury members:
Dr. Joachim Sartorius (2012-2019)
Shermin Langhoff (2012-2019)
David Elliott (2012-2016)
Wolfgang Rihm (2012-2014)
Sibel Kekilli (2012-2014)

Curatorial Statement

A guest in Therapia

Tarabya, first known at the time of the Ottoman Empire as Pharmazia, then as Therapia, is not only used by the residents of the Cultural Academy founded in 2011as a quasi-therapeutic domicile, but is also a patient itself. The 18-hectare estate condenses German- Ottoman history and represents more than any other place in Istanbul the interwoven connecting lines of these past empires. This weight of history is hard to ignore, and for many of the hitherto 106 residents from the fields of visual arts, music, performing arts, film, literature and cultural theory, the place and the several months’ stay, often repeated, became and continue to be the starting point for artistic confrontations.Life at the Cultural Academy is a give and take; each learns from the other in a city and a country that is covering the trap doors of its history faster and faster. The Cultural Academy is a safe space for individual artistic work, dialogue and freedom of expression – for artists from Germany and Turkey alike. Exactly this combination of seclusion of the place, networking with the Turkish scene and open expectations as to the results of the residencies makes for an ideal starting point for a change of perspective and artistic creation.

We are now celebrating the 10th anniversary of Tarabya Cultural Academy at 22 venues. The festival center is Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien. This venue, with its rich history, could not be more suitable. There is hardly a district of the city where the 60-year history of the German-Turkish recruitment agreement can be read better than in Berlin-Kreuzberg. That the connections between the two countries are significantly older than the “history of the guest workers”, however, seldom gets told as part of the canonical story.

The artistic and discursive contributions of the festival participants deal with local contexts, global challenges and current urban tendencies from a wide variety of perspectives. German-Turkish relations at the time of the First World War thus formed an important starting point. Another anchor point is the 60th anniversary of the German-Turkish recruitment agreement, which set in train a migration process that has shaped and changed both countries.

Works on pressing issues such as the climate crisis and processes of urban transformation also show how global issues affect both countries. Turkey, and especially its economic draft horse, Istanbul, have over the past 20 years been shaped by neoliberal urban planning projects: the controversial new airport, to which hundreds of thousands of trees and numerous villages fell victim; the high-rise buildings and gated communities that have led to increased segregation.

The artistic works that deal with women’s rights, LGBTQ and body politics bring social grievances into focus. In 2020 alone, 404 women were murdered in Turkey. Violence against queer people in public spaces is increasing; the Pride parade has been banned for years. In 2021, Turkey withdrew from the Istanbul Convention, which aims to prevent violence against women across Europe.

The festival also includes artistic works that deal with the location and purpose of residency programs themselves and discuss the question of how, at a place that is separated from the neighborhood and the city by a wall, contact with the local art scene and local artists can be established and maintained.

The very first residents at Tarabya already sharply defined the post-migrant profile of the Cultural Academy, especially in the field of theater. Not the least of the Academy’s achievements is that these artists and their new themes, material and formats have become known to a broad public in the Federal Republic of Germany.

The focus of the literature and discourse program is on present-day German society. In 2021 it is Jewish, post-migrant, queer, black and so much more. This is not least the result of migration over the past few decades, which has significantly changed culture and civil society. This new reality also creates the need for a changed perspective on the past and present of the German social order. Literature and essay writing are practices that can map in a special way the complexity of the history and stories of all the people living here.

The search for networks and affiliations, for global issues, history and stories will continue in future to be the work of artists from Germany and Turkey. And in this Tarabya Cultural Academy will continue to do its part.

Curatorial team of the entire festival:
Stéphane Bauer (Director of the Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien)
Pia Entenmann (Artistic Director of Tarabya Cultural Academy)
Çağla İlk (Director of the Kunsthalle Baden-Baden)

Co-curator of visual arts: Susanne Weiß (Curator, Co-Director of the ifa Art Gallery, Berlin)
Co-curator of literature/discourse: Max Czollek (Journalist, Poet)
Co-curator of music: Çiğdem İkiışık (Program Coordinator of Tarabya Cultural Academy)
Co-curator of the performative program: Çağla İlk (Director of the Kunsthalle Baden-Baden)
Curatorial assistance: Lena Alpozan, Çiğdem İkiışık, Alma Seiberth

Overview of the festival locations

Festival Center/Exhibition (3/9–31/10/2021) in Berlin

Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien
Mariannenplatz 2
10997 Berlin
Exhibition: 4 September – 31 October 2021
Opening: 3/9/2021
Closing Event: 30/10/2021, program and time on the festival website
Exhibition opening times:
Sunday to Wednesday, 10 am to 8 pm
Thursday to Saturday, 10 am to 10 pm
Admission free

Additional venues in Berlin

Public spaces in Berlin – Kreuzberg
A selection of the works by Isaac Chong Wai, Nezaket Ekici, Ola Kolehmainen, Julia Lazarus and Sencer Vardarman can be seen on billboards in Kreuzberg during the festival period.

Apartment Project Berlin
Hertzbergstr. 13
12055 Berlin

Freiluftkino Kreuzberg
Mariannenplatz 2
10997 Berlin

fsk Kino – Das Kino am Oranienplatz
Segitzdamm 2
10969 Berlin

Galerie Auslage
Pücklerstraße 17
10997 Berlin

Galerie im Körnerpark
Schierker Straße 8
12051 Berlin
Exhibition opening times:
Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am to 8 pm
Opening of the exhibition: September 2, 2021, 6 pm
Duration: 3/9/2021–14/11/2021

Haus für Poesie
Knaackstraße 97 (Kulturbrauerei)
10435 Berlin

Studio 1
Kunstquartier Bethanien
Mariannenplatz 2
10997 Berlin

Liebigstraße 12
10247 Berlin
Exhibition opening hours: 2 pm – 8 pm,
Wednesday to Sunday

Literaturhaus Berlin
Fasanenstraße 23
10719 Berlin

Holzmarktstraße 33
10243 Berlin

Rollbergstraße 26
12053 Berlin

silent green Kulturquartier
Gerichtstraße 35
13347 Berlin

Reinbeckstraße 16
12459 Berlin

Elsewhere in Germany

DKH – Dietrich-Keuning-Haus
Leopoldstraße 50–58
44147 Dortmund

Biennale für Freiburg
Dreisamstraße 21
79098 Freiburg im Breisgau

Literaturhaus Köln
Großer Griechenmarkt 39
50676 Köln

Stadtgarten Köln
Venloer Straße 40
50672 Köln

Literaturhaus München
Salvatorplatz 1
80333 München

Deutsches Nationaltheater Weimar
Theaterplatz 2
99423 Weimar