A wave of striking outdoor sculptures dominate the Bodrum coast this summer

New works by Steve Messam, Cristián Mohaded and Sabine Marcelis arrive in Bodrum, inspired by the striking landscape of the Aegean Riviera in Turkey

Steve Messam, Jetty, 2022. Variable Dimensions | Rip-stop Polyester, Fans.
Steve Messam, Jetty, 2022. Variable Dimensions | Rip-stop Polyester, Fans.
(Image credit: Courtesy of Istanbul'74)

Installed across the lush gardens and craggy coastline around Maçakizi, a charming hillside hotel overlooking Türkbükü Bay on the northern edge of the Bodrum Peninsula, ‘Between Humankind and Nature’ features paintings, sculptures, design and site-specific installations by celebrated contemporary artists exploring our relationship to nature and the world around us. 

‘After the pandemic, I felt the importance of our relationship with nature more deeply and wanted to explore it further with an exhibition presented in dialogue with the distinctive landscape of the Aegean Riviera,’ says Demet Muftuoglu-Eseli, the exhibition’s curator and co-founder of art platform Istanbul’74. ‘I wanted to bring together artists from different backgrounds and disciplines as every creative practice adds a new perspective on the theme.’

Running until 10 September 2022, ‘Between Humankind and Nature’ presents existing works alongside new pieces created in collaboration with local studios and artisans. 

Steve Messam, Jetty, 2022. Variable Dimensions | Rip-stop Polyester, Fans. Photography: Courtesy of Istanbul'74

Cristian Mohaded, Waving Towers, 2022. Handwoven Rattan on Steel Pole with Concrete Base.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Istanbul'74)

‘The merge and clash of perspectives between artists and artisans creates a singular synergy from which something truly unique emerges,’ continues Muftuoglu-Eseli. ‘The exhibition offers visitors an opportunity to see the depth and breadth of each artist’s practice in a new light.’

Take Cristián Mohaded’s five Waving Towers (2022), produced during the exhibition’s artist residency programme in collaboration with local weavers, which loom large on the shore. Made from handwoven rattan using local weaving techniques, they sway gently and whistle in the Meltemi winds. Their natural colour and organic forms blend harmoniously with the surrounding vegetation and rocks on which they perch.

‘We used a more elastic material than I would normally work with, which allowed us to experiment with new undulating forms,’ says the Argentinian artist and designer who’s made his name fusing tradition, craft and technique with modern innovation and design. ‘It was a truly collaborative process that started with the exchange of know-how and ideas.’ 

Steve Messam, Jetty, 2022. Variable Dimensions. Rip-stop Polyester, Fans. Photography: Courtesy of Istanbul'74

Steve Messam, Jetty, 2022. Variable Dimensions. Rip-stop Polyester, Fans.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Istanbul'74)

Equally eye-catching is Jetty (2022), a new site-specific installation by British artist Steve Messam. Installed in the rocky shallows between the mainland and Maçakizi’s canopied wooden decking, it comprises a series of dusky pink inflatables that are impossible to ignore from the bar and bay beyond. Some are squeezed into rocky crevices, while others bob in the waves and the wind. 

‘I hope visitors will look at how they move and transform this stretch of water,’ says Messam, who is best known for his ephemeral site-specific works that interrupt the landscape. ‘If people slow down, ask questions and look at the space in a new way, even for just a moment, then I’ve done my job.’  

The inflatables, produced in collaboration with a tailor in Bodrum, are made from lightweight polyester with waterproof coating — a first for Messam, who usually works with ripstop nylon. ‘If you look closely, you’ll see the ripples and imperfections in the fabric,’ he says. ‘Unlike my other works, Jetty has a soft, material quality to it. And I like that.’ 

Then there’s Jetty’s unusual pastel pink colouring. ‘Ripstop nylons usually come in primary or saturated colours, and I wanted Jetty to talk the language of the landscape,’ he explains. ‘The Aegean hills have a dusty colour to them, the sea is a turquoise-green, and the sky is a very pale blue. It was important for me to work with this natural palette and respect the light and the view.’

Mike Berg, Tower. 

Mike Berg, Tower

(Image credit: Courtesy of Istanbul'74)

Wander up the pine-clad hill and you’ll find works by Carlito Dalceggio, Belkis Balpinar and Mike Berg, among others, nestling happily among magnolia, oleander and bougainvillea. Perched poolside, as if about to set sail, is Mehmet Ali Uysal’s Paper Boat (2022), conceived for this exhibition in collaboration with a local metal workshop. 

Fabric sculptures from Rachel Hayes’ Checkers series, meanwhile, billow in the breeze. The multicoloured installation, erected above one of Maçakizi’s many outdoor terraces, looks different from one gust of wind to the next, so prepare to stop, stare and reconnect with your surroundings. 

Rachel Hayes, Checkers, 2022. Polyester, Nylon. Photography: Courtesy of Istanbul'74 Bodrum outdoor sculpture

Rachel Hayes, Checkers, 2022. Polyester, Nylon

(Image credit: Courtesy of Istanbul'74)

Also included in the exhibition are two art mirrors and three rotating tables by Sabine Marcelis. Made from local stone and produced in collaboration with a studio in Izmir, the tables are split in two: the top block rotates off-axis, so with every rotation, a new composition is created.

‘I like to work with simple geometric shapes to highlight the properties of the material,’ says the Dutch artist and designer, while displacing the top block of one of the tables in Split (2022). ‘When the plates part, you see how tints of the pink travertine come back in the veins of the blue stone.’ 

A wave of striking outdoor sculptures dominate the Bodrum coast this summer

(Image credit: Press)

Sabine Marcelis

Top: Sabine Marcelis, Split, 2022, Seat, Marble. Above: pictured behind Split is Offround Mirror Hue 3, Pink, 2022, Created in Collaboration with Dutch Designer Brit van Nerven.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Istanbul'74)

Bodrum’s glistening sun, it transpires, also affects the viewing experience. As the sun hits Offround Mirror Hue 3/ Pink (2022), which is installed behind Split, it reflects a pink colour onto the surface of the tables; as it hits the tables’ jutting angles, it casts shadows on the ground.

‘I wanted to create something that was static in its presence but very dynamic once activated,’ she continues. ‘I love that you have this ever-changing experience as the piece interacts with natural light.’

For Marcelis, one of the joys and challenges of working with natural stone — unlike her signature cast resin, mirror and layered glass — is the unpredictability of the material. ‘Each slab has its own veins and drawings which you have to work around,’ she says. ‘It’s been a unique collaboration with nature and a good exercise in letting go of control.’

Mehmet Ali Uysal, Paper Boat, 2022, Metal. 

Mehmet Ali Uysal, Paper Boat, 2022, Metal

(Image credit: Courtesy of Istanbul'74)

’Between Humankind and Nature’, until 10 September 2022, in collaboration with Maçakızı Bodrum. istanbul74.com