An exhibition opening in Istanbul’s Tophane district has been attacked by angry locals complaining about alcohol consumption.
A group of assailants, who said they were from the neighborhood, on the night of Sept. 30 attacked the exhibition in the first floor of a newly opened building titled “Kuytu,” which consisted of the works of a total of 21 female artists.
“A family including a grandfather, a grandmother, a mother, a father and their children started yelling in front of the gallery where the exhibition was being held, complaining about alcohol consumption and the exhibition crowd consisting of women and men mixing together,” Vardal Caniş, an artist whose work was included in the exhibition, told daily Cumhuriyet on Oct. 3.
“More people showed up at the exhibition than we expected. It was crowded, so those who wanted to smoke went outside,” Caniş said, adding that attendees outside were forced to go inside to protect themselves.
Saying that the assailants wanted to attack one of the artist’s father, Caniş noted that all of the people outside had to go inside to protect themselves.
“But although we went inside, they didn’t calm down. In the end we had to close the exhibition,” she added.
Art galleries in Tophane have been subjected to a number of similar attacks, as generally conservative neighborhood locals clash with art lovers attending the galleries that have opened in recent years.
Caniş said they were aware of previous attacks on exhibitions and they were not surprised by this latest incident.
The owner of the gallery, Melih Apaydın, said nothing happened during the opening that could have bothered people in the neighborhood.
“There wasn’t any loud music. We were just talking to each other. The attackers came from the surrounding buildings,” Apaydın told daily Hürriyet.
“They swore at us and threatened us. Because we knew about previous similar attacks, we didn’t want to get involved ... Tophane is one of Istanbul’s culture and arts centers. If we can’t open an exhibition here, where else are we going to do it?” he said, vowing that the exhibition will continue.
Two people have reportedly been detained by police over the incident.