At this conference DEPO is represented by Asena Günal, Project Coordinator.
Tütün Deposu, Lüleci Hendek caddesi, no. 12, Tophane, 34425, İstanbul, Turkey
cultural center (arts and other cultural activities)
DEPO is an initiative of Anadolu Kültür (AK), a not-for-profit organization working in the field of culture. Since its establishment, Anadolu Kultur has been a driving force in facilitating cross-cultural collaborations and circulating art through Anatolia; DEPO was established in 2008 (AK was established in 2002)
DEPO is a space for critical debate and cultural exchange in the city center of Istanbul and the first initiative in Turkey to focus on regional collaborations among Turkey, the Caucasus, and Middle Eastern and Balkan countries. Besides an artistic program (exhibitions, documentary screenings, discussions), DEPO addresses the socio-political implications of socially engaged art practices across the whole region, organizes conferences, workshops, lectures and panel discussions, and publishes an e-journal. DEPO is a hub for initiating and realizing regional projects. All DEPO’s activities, including the e-journal project, provide artists, cultural operators, academicians and intellectuals the opportunity to engage with each other, to exchange ideas and experiences, and to develop collaborative projects. DEPO also functions as an open space for other institutions’ activities.
Decision-making: The decisions are taken by an artistic advisory committee consisting of the head of Anadolu Kültür, Osman Kavala, the DEPO team (Zeynep Moralı, Asena Günal, Balca Ergener), and five curators. The committee designs the artistic program but the DEPO team designs and organizes the hosting of other institutions’ short-term activities and the center’s daily routine.
Organizational openness: DEPO is considered as an alternative space within Turkey’s rapidly institutionalizing and commercializing artistic milieu. It is more open to collaborative projects which bring together artists and collectives from different countries. It is also available to different groups as a venue for screenings, panels, discussions, performances, and rehearsals. We support young groups by providing space and technical equipment.
Venue/s / resources: Anadolu Kültür provides the main resources. The venue is owned by the head of Anadolu Kültür, Osman Kavala, who inherited the main building and the annex from his parents. The main building, an old four-story structure with high ceilings and wooden floors, was used as a tobacco warehouse until the 1950s. Since the 9th International Istanbul Biennial in 2005, the building has been occasionally used as an exhibition and project space. Renovation works were carried out between January and May 2008, and since June 2008 the DEPO team has been working in the tobacco warehouse. Its running costs are covered by Anadolu Kültür, which obtains funds from various international organizations but has Osman Kavala’s family business as its main resource. DEPO receives some funds from international funding institutions and consulates in İstanbul for different projects, for which we provide labor, technician, electrician, technical equipment, banner, press relations, e-mail announcement, and some part of the production. We expect curators and artists to apply for funds in their own countries for the production and the transportation of artwork and for flight and accommodation expenses, although depending on the project and available funds we might cover some part of these costs.
Budget: more than €100,000 and less than €300,000.
Co-productions: If a co-production is included in DEPO’s artistic program (activities discussed and accepted by the board), we provide the premises, technical material, part of the production costs, opening cocktails, press material, and (depending on the fund) artist fees, flight and accommodation costs. If the co-production is not included in the program, we make the space available and do not ask for any money for the running costs.
Hosting: The other groups we support are usually young collectives struggling to exist on very little financial resources. Therefore, if we have a suitable space in either the main building or the annex, we make it available to these young groups, without asking for rent or running costs. New performance groups, LGBTT organizations or university forums can have their activities here at DEPO.
Services: We help organizations and artists in building up a network and finding possible funds.
International collaboration: DEPO defines its mission as to serve as a platform which supports international collaborations, especially between Turkey and its neighbors. We believe that interaction with neighboring countries through artistic and cultural media will help the struggle against rising isolationism. Thus, new ways can be devised for re-thinking the boundaries of national identity in order to re-connect the various histories and buried promises in the region. Although the countries in the region face similar problems, they do not discuss them with each other. A platform like DEPO helps activists, academicians, and artists to discuss, grasp, and solve these problems because it enables direct communication among these countries which have otherwise tended to know each other only through the West. Most of the exhibitions and activities within the DEPO program are based on international collaboration. We collaborate either with institutions or curators / artists and we make joint applications to international funds.
Participation: We organize side events with each exhibition in which curators and the artists come together with the audience. We organize Open Table meetings (monthly) which aim to bring people together in order to create a discussion and sharing platform at DEPO. The program includes not only artists but also collectives, lecturers, sociologists, writers, critics, and curators. We organize documentary screenings (fortnightly) accompanied by presentations from professionals and academicians working in related fields. The program includes selected noteworthy examples of international documentary cinema and work by local documentary filmmakers. These activities stimulate critical reflection and create new partnerships between people not only from the cultural and academic fields but also from different generations and backgrounds.
Gathering citizens: Some of the panels and conferences organized by DEPO are not primarily artistic. They deal with issues such as democratization, equal citizenship, minority rights, and urban regeneration.
Neighborhood: We have organized a circus workshop for the children of the neighborhood and distributed children’s books for free. We are working on a photography workshop for children and young people. DEPO is located in Tophane, an ethnically diverse neighborhood where Turkish, Arab, Roma, and Kurdish people live together. It is an impoverished neighborhood in general, though is undergoing a process of gentrification which has brought galleries to the district. The tension between the lifestyles of the gallery audience and conservative segments of the neighborhood resulted in an attack on exhibition openings last September. There is the need to establish connections with the neighborhood and public mediation is necessary.
Municipality: The Beyoğlu municipality is informed about our activities and announces them in its monthly bulletin, though it is difficult to talk about close collaboration.
Advocacy / activism: If one considers the political meetings organized here as activism, then we do engage in this. Some activities organized by NGOs here certainly count as activism. The NGOs to which we make our space available are working for a more democratic and open society that promotes human rights, women’s rights, minority rights and so on.