ISTANBUL — Gathered on the marble terrace of a dazzling 19th-century Ottoman palace overlooking the Bosphorus, leading artistic personalities including Silvia Venturini Fendi celebrated the seventh anniversary of the Istanbul Arts and Culture festival, which seeks to foster dialogue between diverse creative disciplines.
Earlier in the day, at Istanbul’s equally impressive Vakko Fashion Center — the 2015 winner of AIA New York Honor Award in architecture and design — Venturini Fendi, creative director of accessories and men’s wear at Fendi, walked the audience through her personal journey into fashion.
In another debate at the three-day cultural marathon, American actress Parker Posey questioned the lack of female leads and women filmmakers together with her Turkish colleague Serra Yilmaz, in an exchange of anecdotes that had the audience bursting with laughter.
Anton Corbijn, the Dutch photographer and creative director of music videos for the likes of Depeche Mode and U2, discussed his life and work after the opening of his exhibition, “Number 5,” comprised of six of his portraits of subjects like Nick Cave and Keith Richards, displayed for the first time in large format.
British architect David Adjaye, meanwhile, delved into the meaning of aesthetics in a contemporary environment.
What linked them all was their common language, Venturini Fendi underlined.
“I think that everything is interconnected,” the designer said as she walked toward the candle-lit patio of the Ciragan Palace on the European side of Istanbul. “I like this multi-disciplinary nature of things in a global world, as I don’t think anything — as in arts, music, movies and fashion — can be so clearly defined when they all reflect the moment.”
Posey, who starred in Woody Allen’s latest feature “Cafe Society,” highlighted the commonality in artists’ upbringing when they all experienced some form of abandonment that needed expression. In her case, it was her father who was in Vietnam when she was little.
“When I have conversations with artists, most of the time it’s this desire to create something that happens very early, from something that was missing,” she said on the sidelines of the festival. “It’s just like wanting to add color, wanting to make a story, wanting to express. It’s this desire that when I see it in other people, I don’t feel separate from that.”
Art was not about being fabulous but that familiarity, she added.
“When it’s more about commodity, more about fashion, more about being fabulous, I’m not really that, I desire more connection,” she said. “That was the nice thing about hearing someone like Silvia [Venturini Fendi] or talking to some of the people — because on the outside, there’s all that glamor, but the essence is the connection.”
Banking on this strong bond, Demet Müftüoğlu-Eseli and her husband Alphan Eseli initiated the festival in 2010 and started bringing together a mix of national and international visionaries in panels, discussions, screenings and exhibitions, all free and open to public.
“Our goal here is to build a bridge across cultures, between fashion and architecture, film-making and literature, between all disciplines of aesthetics,” said Müftüoğlu-Eseli, a former model turned art gallery owner.
“Istanbul, geographically speaking, represents that bridge and once we relate it with an inter-dialogue of cultures, it all makes perfect sense, and feels the most inspiring for all participants.”