The 6th edition of the Mamut Art Project, which aims to present Turkey's promising young artists and their works to gallery owners, curators and art lovers, kicks off in Istanbul on April 25 and lasts until April 29. (Xinhua/Zeynep Cermen)
ISTANBUL, April 29 (Xinhua) -- "I was mostly sitting in the dim light at home just like this plant seen on the photo, searching the light while leaving my mind roaming in the midst of feelings of being trapped and inert," a young Turkish photographer described her mood back in 2015.
Oyku Canli, a 25-year-old artist, was having hard times at the time in her career in photography after she returned to Istanbul from the United States. "I took a turn into darkness both mentally and physically," she told Xinhua.
Canli moved to Turkey's Black Sea province of Giresun, her mother's hometown, for a while, where she followed her inner voice and made a decision on what to do in life. There she created a series of photographic pieces under the theme of Motherland to reflect her own inactivity in life.
She was aware of the fact, however, that she had to present herself and her works to the art industry so as to work with professionals. Toward the end of last year, she decided to apply to Turkey's biggest public art project for a chance to prove herself.
The sixth edition of the Mamut Art Project, which aims to present Turkey's promising young artists and their works to gallery owners, curators and art lovers, kicked off in Istanbul on Wednesday and lasted until Sunday.
Over 500 art pieces by 48 artists in a variety of forms, from painting and sculpture to animation, digital art and new media, were introduced to the public inside a large black tent set up in the form of an art gallery in a park in central Istanbul.
Canli displayed five pieces of her Motherland series, with the last two about a flowing river reaching the sea, indicating her inner peace and a positive turn in her life.
"Everything started six years ago when we realized that the country was lacking such a platform," said Ekin Kohen, sales director and co-owner of the project.
"So we came up with the idea of establishing an art project to represent young artists and make connections between them and art professionals and art lovers," she added.
The artists qualified for the project were selected from 1,000 applicants by means of a tough evaluation process.
"During the two-month application period, the jury of five multidisciplinary experts have carried out a series of assessments, which also included a grading system," said Kohen.
Inside the tent, each artist was able to showcase their works for free in a 10-square-meter individual space.
"We are providing them guidance, promotional support and networking opportunities during the exhibition, and after the exhibition, we continue to offer professional consultancy to the participating artists," explained Kohen.
During the event, art lovers were offered good prices to buy the original art pieces.
Urban transformation, reflections on the past, childhood memories and alienation from one's root were among the themes of the works on display.
"The artists mostly manifested their personal experiences and inner worlds on their art pieces," noted Kohen.
Asli Ozyenginer, a film maker, joined the project with a series of videos titled Words on Water, having high hopes for her future career. "This is my second application. I was not accepted at first, but this year I finally did it," she said.
A Mamut Kids section was opened for the first time in a special area, where children could participate in interactive and colorful activities. In the Mamut Performances section this year, the re-performance rights of the works were sold.
Kohen described this initiative as an important chapter in the ongoing development of performance art in Turkey, as it is helpful in keeping the integrity of the works while maintaining the copyrights of the artists.
Additionally, there was a section dedicated to KRÜW, an art collective involving 20 artists including illustrators and street artists. For the event this year, they created exclusive series of works entitled Mythz, inspired by mythological stories from different territories and cultures.
"I am confident to say that through the Mamut Art Project, we have created a pioneering platform offering a distinctive alternative to the established commercial-art-fair model," said Seren Kohen, director of the project.