Thierry Dreyfus lights up Istanbul’s ’fairy-haunted’ Perili Köşk mansion

Thierry Dreyfus lights up Istanbul’s ’fairy-haunted’ Perili Köşk mansion

As the economic behemoth that is Turkey sprints into the future (see W* 176 celebrating the CIVETS countries), reminders of the past remain few and far between. Perili Köşk – otherwise known as the fairy-haunted mansion – is a spectacular exception, teetering on the western bank of the Bosphorus in the heart of Istanbul.

The century-old manor, home to the Borusan Contemporary Art Museum, remained unfinished for decades, until a recent renovation brought it back into the cultural sphere. A new installation by lighting designer Thierry Dreyfus does even better, setting it alight at night and, as the artist says, ’brings the fairies back into view’.

Dreyfus takes the building’s most distinctive features - the cantilevered balconies that hug the corners and curve around the nine-storey spire - and illuminates them from below with cosmic video screens embedded in the undersides. As dusk falls and the muezzins begin the evening call to prayer, the screens come alive with recordings of passing clouds, currents of water, or rays of sun peeking through the trees. It’s as if the building were broadcasting scenes from its own memory.

The Borusan originally commissioned the installation as part of the 13th Istanbul Biennial. After lighting up briefly in September, it came to life again this week in honour of the 70th anniversary of the Borusan Foundation, rescuer of the building.

As for the best view? Dreyfus says it’s from the Bosphorus – from the hundreds of boats that float past each evening. ’When the sun sets, when the images of the films are melting into the sky,’ he muses. Passers-by, however, will also get an eyeful for some time to come, as the installation is set to light up the historical building for the next three years.

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