Interview with Mari Spirito, director and curator at Alt Art Space Istanbul

You are the director and curator of the new art space Alt, which just opened in Istanbul. Can you tell us about your background, your life and relation to Turkey?

I am also the director of Protocinema, a mission driven art organization that realises site- aware exhibitions in different places in the world, mostly Istanbul and New York. I have been doing that for five years and it’s going strong. These experiences have been particularly rewarding for me so far. As for a a brief background – I studied at Massachusetts College of Art, Boston and during that time opened a gallery with my roommates in our loft. From there I went to New York and worked in galleries for over 20 years. I first came to Istanbul in 2007, and after many visits and time here, I was including artists from Turkey in exhibitions in New York and making exhibitions in Istanbul with artists from elsewhere. For example, in 2010, I included Can Altay in a group show at 303 Gallery in Chelsea, New York, where I was the director at the time. The exhibition was called One Leading Away From Another and also included works by Latifa Echakhch, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Ceal Floyer, Dominique Gonzalez- Foerster, Alicja Kwade, Gabriel Kuri, Peter Nadin, Kelly Nipper, Kristin Oppenheim and Sarah Ortmeyer. That same year, November Paynter and I co-curated the show Never Neutral in an unused space in the Mısır Apartment building, including works by Chris Marker, Enrique Metinides and Dara Birnbaum, which explored the shifting and complex use of a documentary approach in contemporary art. The following year, I included Cevdet Erek in a show called The Art of Climbing Mountains at the gallery, with Adrian Ghenie, Adriana Lara, Mike Nelson and Joel Shapiro. All of these exhibitions explore my interestes in how different individuals come to their belief systems and how one’s perspective and perception is part of that. Working in the context of BomontiAda and Alt art space has an organic synergy, with all the things that I have been working on and been interested in for a very long time…