Before resuming its original function as public baths, Zeyrek Çinili Hamam in Istanbul presents the contemporary art exhibition Healing Ruins. This one-off exhibition to mark the hammam’s opening takes place throughout the historic 16th century baths and newly uncovered Byzantine cisterns.
Curated by Anlam de Coster, Healing Ruins draws inspiration from the layers of the past uncovered by Zeyrek Çinili Hamam’s 13-year-long restoration, involving meticulous archaeological excavations. Showcasing the works of 22 artists from Turkey and abroad, including new site-specific commissions, the exhibition is on view from 30 September until 30 November 2023.
Healing Ruins explores the possibilities for transformation at both an individual and societal level. The title purposefully carries multiple meanings, suggesting not only that ruins are inherently healing, but that the act of repairing ruins might have a transformative effect on us. It also implies that purification, creation, and repair can only occur through an arduous process, much like the hammam ritual itself.
Twelve artists were invited to create new site-specific works responding to the history, mythology, and architecture of Zeyrek Çinili Hamam: Francesco Albano, Adrian Geller, Alice Guittard, Başak Günak, Maryam Hoseini, Ahmet Doğu İpek, Lara Ögel, Zoë Paul, Daniel Silver, Panos Tsagaris, Ezgi Türksoy, and Elif Uras. Built in the 1530s by the famed Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan, the baths have served as a place for purification, cleansing, renewal, and atonement for over 500 years. The exhibition also features works by Erol Akyavaş, Mehtap Baydu, Hera Büyüktaşcıyan, Dorothy Cross, Candeğer Furtun, Cecilia Granara, Renée Levi, Maude Maris, Ayça Telgeren, and Marion Verboom.
Taken over by sculptures, paintings, drawings, photographs and installations, Zeyrek Çinili Hamam has been transformed once more into an excavation site, unearthing remnants of individual and collective memory. Legends, whispers, poems, bodies, rituals, symbols, secrets, love stories, pain, hopes, and ghosts, which have been lost and forgotten over time, find new forms and perspectives.
Press release from Zeyrek Çinili Hamam