Istanbul’s unique combination of cultural inspiration and innovation was recently given an international boost with Istancool. The mid-summer festival aimed to enhance the Turkish capital’s reputation as a serious cultural center by featuring members of the global artistic vanguard—artists, writers, designers, composers, filmmakers, theorists, assorted media and contemporary culture protagonists—as well as pay tribute to Turkey’s unique heritage during a weekend of intellectual engagement and education.
Organized by Pablo Gangulli, director of Liberatum, with the help of partners Turkish Airlines and AnOther Magazine, the event’s cross generational and disciplinary mix of attendees was a major part of its success. Daytime talks and discussions were held in three different museum venues, while evening locations proved to be equally inspiring—especially with the wondrous Bosphorus never far away from view. Among heavy-weight literary (V.S. Naipaul, Hanif Kureishi) and artistic giants (Zaha Hadid, Franca Sozzani), the festival also included a refreshing mix of creative disciplines and varied personalities like The Misshapes, Gareth Pugh, Kim Jones, Terence Koh, Waris Ahluwalia, Robert Montgomery and Daphne Guinness. The London-centric creative crowd added some much needed craziness and spontaneity to the weekend’s proceedings.
Istancool was a rare opportunity to reflect on the subjects and places that inform our tastes and imaginations—a much-needed breather amid the proliferation of international fashion weeks, biennials and fairs as well as the increasingly fast fashion system. Here’s to more such initiatives that break down the barriers between artistic disciplines and help slow down the creative rat race.