Photo: Dirk Masbaum, Courtesy LEVY Galerie, Hamburg
Wednesday Society. The Couch of Meret O. takes place at Artam Antik Palace, a nineteenth-century Ottoman mansion in Istanbul’s popular Maçka neighborhood that opens its doors to international positions in contemporary art. Addressing what Freud called the “dark continent” of female desire, the exhibition presents works of the legendary Swiss artist Meret Oppenheim and Georgian artist Natela Iankoshvili for the very first time in Istanbul, next to a number of rarely seen works of Rebecca Horn from the Collection Peter Raue in Berlin. Wednesday Society exhibits parts of the digital archive of Beral Madra, curator of the first and second Istanbul Biennial, paying homage to a pioneering female contemporary figure in Istanbul’s art scene and beyond.
The exhibition’s inspiration is derived from a setting usually not associated with the visual arts: the gathering of intellectuals in Sigmund Freud’s private reception room at Berggasse 19 in Vienna: (male) friends and colleagues convened there in the midst of Freud’s idiosyncratic collection of ancient Middle Eastern artworks on Wednesdays to discuss new concepts, methods, and ideas related to the emerging field of psychanalysis. Our Wednesday Society is the feminized version of that setting, an emerging place of power, exploring the “dark continent” of irregular, nonphallic, dispersed, poetic, and imaginary ways of thinking. Centrally staged, the exhibition hosts a pop-up nineteenth-century salon, an in-situ scene in which curator Shulamit Bruckstein hosts special guests at regular hours in private conversation on her couch that are open to the public with two scribes projecting mural writings on the walls.