Seçil Alkış: Why do you think you were recognized for the 2013 International Collecting Award by ARCO? Could you tell us about what this award means to you?
Billur Tansel: IFEMA Amigos de ARCO is a foundation supporting art, based in Madrid. The world art finds its home in the most important art fair ARCO, in a country where contemporary art is rapidly progressing. This foundation, every year, recognize those who support art internationally. They choose the significant national and international organizations in classifications such as corporate collectors, private collectors and individual entrepreneurs. This year, the decision was to recognize Elgiz Collection with the “A” collector 2013 award. The most significant criteria for this choice is to transform the passion to collect into a social responsibility act, helping art be supported and providing local art international display. Collectors Can and Sevda Elgiz were recognized for their efforts in carrying their acts on with a non-profit approach, exhibiting the artworks they collected to public and aiding Turkish art continuously through 12 years. This award reflects the belief to the art that is shared with public through various acts of devotion. It could be regarded as a gratitude shown to collectors’ struggles internationally.
S.A: Being the first contemporary art museum in Turkey should of course bring great responsibility. How would you comment on this?
B.T: Our organization is a private collection museum. Being the first contemporary art museum found in 2001 brings many responsibilities with it of course. Providing young artists and curators with an international exhibition platform is one of our main goals just like making all our collections public. We also continue provide artists with display through the open archive room. The outdoor exhibition venue, formed on the top of the museum in 2012, serves the same purpose. Here, sculptures and outdoor projects that do not belong to any collections are being exhibited. Seminars and happenings executed under the name of the museum also connect the audience to art, as a lifestyle.
S.A: By hosting the Elgiz Collection, you are performing a great deed for the Turkish public. You undergo exhibitions based on projects yet do you intent to continue exhibiting your collection as the main event?
B.T: Exhibition is a mission of being a collector to be honest. Artworks do never belong to a person. Collectors have the duty to preserve them. This is carried through generations many a time. We also do project based exhibitions, but the main exhibit hall was sectioned into two last year. In the continuous exhibit part we will continue displaying the essentials while in the duration based hall exhibitions with changing concepts, new events will be placed.
S.A: Many artists know that they are “artists”. Can we say the same about collecting?
B.T: Absolutely, a collector knows that s/he is a collector. This brings great responsibility with it. Supporting an artist, having an essential input in her/his development is a must. Collecting requires to be a pioneer, following new and different projects.
S.A: There are two grand contemporary art museums that functionally active at the moment. How do you compare/contrast Proje4L with Istanbul Modern?
B.T: Istanbul modern aids the progression of Turkish art in great scale. Each and every foundation is essential at this point for our country. We are in a different segment, as a private collection museum. Our collective aim is to provide our audience with new points of view.
S.A: Do you consider art as an investment?
B.T: I could not speak economically yet art is an investment in this regard: It gives you a chance to provide the upcoming generations with a brand new vision. A child who grows up with art, will have a completely different attitude in life. Providing them with a bright future and awareness, is possible through letting them experience this universal language, art.
S.A: You visit many galleries, museums and fairs, both domestic and international. How do you position Turkish Art in this regard?
B.T: Visiting domestic and international galleries, museums and fairs let us consider Turkish Art more objectively. As borders fade in the world, art is carried through a more universal dimension. Art and artists carry their roles to a grander background. Turkish Art progresses more with every passing day, and we start to get the entire world’s attention. Having a young population and a great cultural heritage goes hand in hand with dissolving of global borders in creating dynamic and exciting novelties.
S.A: What would you like to suggest young artists?
B.T: I suggest young artists to keep their senses open all the time. I suggest them to keep observing and follow the changing world. They are the eyes and senses of our upcoming generations. They carry on a very important mission. They should be aware of their responsibilities and with it they should bring greater success to our art with every new day.