New art complex awakens hopes for Istanbul's dying Istiklal Avenue

2017-09-14 15:55:32 GMT2017-09-14 23:55:32(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

ISTANBUL, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- A newly renovated and grand art complex was just opened on Istiklal Avenue, rekindling hopes for a revival of art and culture on the iconic pedestrian street at central Istanbul.

Following a four-year period of renovation, the Yapi Kredi Culture and Art Publishing House located across the historical Galatasaray High School in the middle of the avenue was formally opened on Wednesday to art enthusiasts and others.

For many, Istiklal or Independence Avenue has lost its intellectual soul and glory over the last five years, as most bookstores, movie theaters and art galleries have been shut down amid a sense of political uncertainty featuring a spate of deadly terror attacks and a failed coup attempt.

The area is now occupied by cosmetic shops and shopping malls appealing to rich Arab tourists but not in the radius of city intellectuals any more.

"We believe this building would play a crucial role in transforming the Istiklal Avenue into an outstanding center of attraction where art is a dominant feature once again," Tulay Gungen, head of Yapi Kredi Culture and Art Publishing House, told reporters at the opening ceremony.

With a unique transparent architectural design, the complex allows passersby to watch what are taking place inside as they walk by.

A well-known "Mediterranean" sculpture by Turkish artist Ilhan Koman depicting an embrace with love has been placed on the third floor, which can be seen saluting the pedestrians on the street behind a glass wall.

"The transparent side allows the building to intermingle with the city life," said Gungen. "And it is expected to attract anyone, even those who do not care for art and culture."

The new complex houses, among others, a library, a bookstore, exhibition areas, a museum, conference halls and studios for art performances, theatrical plays and movie screenings. The library offers over 80,000 volumes including 4,000 rare books.

"We will proclaim our return to Istiklal in the most and effective way possible," declared Gungen.

The complex is currently hosting a contemporary art exhibition, displaying a cornucopia of sculptures, paintings, photographs, video art and ancient coins. Many are expecting it to help revive Istiklal's once vibrant cultural life and bring back the old glorious days.

Photos being shared on social media are titled "Istiklal has not finished," while an article published on sanatatak.com voiced doubt by stating "The time will show how attainable this is."

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