Meriç Öner Named New Director of Turkey’s SALT Art Center

She will take over from Vasif Kortun.

Meric Öner. Photo courtesy the Glossary of Common Knowledge.

Meriç Öner has been appointed head director of research and programs at the Istanbul institution SALT, Artforum reports. The appointment follows the resignation of previous director Vasif Kortun in October 2016. Öner will take up her post in 2017 when Kortun leaves his role.

This new appointment is a promotion for Öner, who has been associate director at SALT since 2011. Prior to this, she worked as exhibitions coordinator at the XII.World Congress of Architecture, and then took up a curatorial position at Istanbul gallery Garanti Galeri.

Before taking up her post at SALT, Öner edited the interactive database for the 2008 exhibition “Becoming Istanbul” at the Deutsches Architekturmuseum in Frankfurt am Main, comprised of over 400 media including documentary, artists’ film, and images. She also programmed an exhibition based on the database, with accompanying talks, presentations, and performances, at SALT in 2011.

SALT has three multifaceted venues across Istanbul and Ankara: Galata, Beyoğlu, and Ulus, which together house a theater, cinema, exhibition space, libraries, and archive, although SALT Beyoğlu in Istanbul has been closed since the start of 2016. It is not known why the internationally-popular site was closed, but it is slated to re-open in 2017.

Öner curated the exhibitions “Modern Essays 4: SALON” for SALT Galata in 2012, “SUMMER HOMES: Claiming the Coast” at SALT Beyoğlu in 2014, and “One and the Many” at SALT Galata in 2016.

She has been rumored as Kortun’s replacement since his resignation was announced in October. The outgoing director will be missed, especially given his wealth of experience as curator and director of the third Istanbul Biennial, and as co-director of the ninth—although he will continue to serve the organization as a member of its board of directors.

Öner takes on the organization at a tricky time in Turkey’s history, as Istanbul and Ankara are regularly rocked by terrorist attacks and the government, increasingly conservative, has recently censored the press and the arts.

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