A conversation with Vasif Kortun and Vladislav Shapovalov.
Published originally in doppiozero.
SALT Beyoglu is situated 300 hundred meters from Taksim Square and tries to keeps a critical position towards the politics of Turkish government. Could you explain to us how the current unstable political situation is affecting the everyday work of a cultural institution? How are you trying to respond to the current situation through the programs at SALT?
It is hard not to empathize with the concerns and preoccupations of our public. Why would one go see an exhibition in the midst of an extraordinary time? The overwhelming majority of our public has a different view from that of the government. I could not say it is our duty to take a side but we certainly have an obligation to provide tools for better judgement that enable people to form their opinions in more sophisticated ways. We decided last summer to accept the uncertainties and respond to the situation through programs that resonate with the context, anticipate the situations that might arise and add a bit of complexity. One cannot under conditions of this kind pretend all is normal. It is essential to operate in two temporalities, one is to be very flexible and respond to the time with different programs. The other is to develop the long-term potency of the institution, the stamina to survive daily politics and resume functions not necessarily visible to the public eye; in our case, research and archive. The extent of hospitality has soared since last June and SALT has been housing many projects, programs, and meetings of collectives, initiatives, small institutions and NGOs. As such, SALT is expanding also into a “frame and a context”. All this is apart from cancelling and postponing events, and observing the fragility of a cultural institution.