Contemporary Istanbul: Turkey’s leading annual art fair  

Contemporary Istanbul (CI), Turkey’s leading, annual exhibition, celebrated its 18th edition this past week. Following an exclusive preview, the event proudly displayed its galleries between September 27th and October 1st. The event was hosted in historic Tersane Istanbul, nestled in the scenic shores of the Golden Horn, atop an Ottoman-era shipyard. Since its inception in 2006, Contemporary Istanbul has remained deeply entrenched in the local cultural milieu, developing the dynamic, creative landscape of Istanbul.  

This year, the art fair showcased a lineup of 67 galleries, alongside 8 innovative initiatives and museums. It presented a diverse array of artists from 22 different countries. It also introduced a new section: CI Photo Focus. This initiative highlights the latest developments in contemporary photography.  

ART Domains’ experience at Contemporary Istanbul 

.ART attended Contemporary Istanbul where we interacted with two incredible .ART adopters: Lazy Mike Gallery ( and Martch Art Project (  

Mikhail Ovcharenko and Tatiana Melnikova founded Lazy Mike Gallery in 2018. For three years, they curated local and international pop-up exhibitions, venturing into Los Angeles. In 2020, the Gallery opened its own space. In 2022, it moved to Riga, Latvia.  

Lazy Mike Gallery is the merging point of exhibition space and agency. Its primary mission is championing the interests of artists spanning different generations and embracing a spectrum of conceptual preferences. The founders are passionate advocates for the democratization of art. They prioritize the belief that art, with its capacity to foster moral and intellectual growth, holds equal importance to the accumulation of material possessions. They uphold that, regardless of the world’s challenges, art’s fundamental role is to bridge differences and bring people together.  

At CI, Lazy Mike Gallery exhibited works by artist Ivan Seriy. Seriy created this solo project in his last year of residency in Istanbul. In this compelling series, he delves into the emotional landscape of life in a foreign land, grappling with the pangs of homesickness and the yearning for loved ones.  

With over a decade of experience in the realm of contemporary art, Seriy’s artistic journey began in 2006 when his initial graffiti pieces adorned the city streets. The artist draws upon his graffiti roots, employing rollers and aerosols to craft his captivating works. Over time, his repertoire expanded to encompass a diverse range of characters, blending various forms and styles, from the world of comics to strikingly realistic images.   

We also got to speak with Martch Art Project. Martch Art Project was established in Istanbul in 2018 by Bahar Kızgut. They specialize in artist representation and curating exhibitions both within and beyond the confines of its gallery space. With a firm commitment to a transdisciplinary approach, the gallery’s primary objective is to forge local and global opportunities for its artists.  

At the fair, Martch Art Project showcased the works of several artists, including Antonio Cosentino, Alp Sime, Burak Ata, Bence Magyarlaki, Cenk Düzyol, Merve Morkoç, Mustafa Boğa, Meltem Sarıkaya, Irmak Dönmez, Sinem Dişli, and Yuichiro Kikuma.  

Currently, Martch Art Project is hosting the third edition of its Artist-in-Residency program: Martch Studio. This program offers local and international artists a unique opportunity to live, conduct research, and create art in Ayvalık, Turkey. A committee of art professionals oversees the artist-selection process. Spanning from March to June, this three-month program provides chosen participants with accommodations, access to a shared studio, and financial support. Martch Studio will also host an exhibition featuring the works produced during the residency.   

Future Perspectives of Art Domains and Contemporary Istanbul

Contemporary Istanbul has proved itself a vital entity in the articulation and dissemination of contemporary art—locally and internationally. The .ART Registry, a proud active participant, recognizes CI as a pivotal platform where artists, galleries, and art lovers converge to explore and celebrate the effervescent world of contemporary art. As we reflect on the enriching experiences and connections forged at this year’s event, our anticipation for the next edition grows. Eagerly planning our participation for the upcoming year, we look forward to encountering and engaging with more .ART adopters, whose innovative pursuits in the art world leave us thrilled.  

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