From Sept. 15 to Oct. 13, the oldest Ottoman Turkish bath of Istanbul, Küçük Mustafa Paşa Hamamı (1477), will host “Water. Like Tears of Love,” the site-specific installation by Roman artist Angelo Bucarelli, curated by Laura Barreca. It is the main event of the Italian cultural program in Istanbul, as Italian Ambassador in Turkey, Gianpaolo Scarante said at the presentation of “Orizzonti Italiani.”
The installation is organized as a parallel event of the 13th Istanbul Biennial and it is part of the Meating – Italian Excellences program.
The title “Water. Like Tears of Love” is freely inspired by a verse written by Tursun Bey, Ottoman historian and poet at the court of Mehmet II, also called Fatih, in which he shows his emotion in front of the abundance of water and gardens in the newly conquered Constantinople.
Continuing his research on the concepts of identity and words as the basis for human beings’ fundamental needs to relate to their peers, Bucarelli discovered in water the essence of Byzantium / Constantinople / Istanbul’s identity and chose it as the focus of his artistic intervention.
“Water is the existence and the essence of Istanbul. From the water and through it, it was born. It gave the power, lost and then regained. Through the water Istanbul fed on other civilizations repaying them with its intelligence and beauties. In its lack of water within the walls, it found genius and development. As thought the water seeps and springs, escapes and disappears. It gives growth and death. Like the tears of love it joins together and separates,” the artist says.
Old hamam in the oldest neighborhood
As a location, Bucarelli chose one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, Cibali and Fatih, and an old hamam, the epicenter and the symbol of social civilization, where water is a protagonist. He involved the local community and handicrafts to expand the role of his art. As usual for him, his work refers to different materials such as iron, glass, as well as fabrics and embroidery, integrating them all with photography, his passion. The light that penetrates the hamam from the openings of the dome, the largest one among all public baths, gives rise to bright lively colors and silences that will be the intimate, yet spectacular, counterpoint to the ancient walls and spicy flavors of eastern markets.
The Küçük Mustafa Paşa Hamamı is a beautiful complex, which was closed in the 90s and the subject of a meticulous restoration project. It was built in 1477 during the reign of Fatih Sultan Mehmet, 24 years after the conquest of Byzantium by the Ottomans.
It is located in the Cibali in Fatih area, the most ancient part of Istanbul, between Sultanahmet and the Byzantine walls, a short walk from the south coast of the Golden Horn. Cibali and Fatih are neighborhoods full of authenticity, the subject of rediscovery and renovation; in this context, Bucarelli’s project acts as the main catalyst for a new awareness of the cultural richness of a part of Istanbul still poorly known.
During the exhibition, meetings, lectures and workshops will study in depth the themes suggested by the artist, as well as the value of the building and neighborhood in which it stands.
The Küçükmustafa Paşa Hamamı, which dates back to the 15th century, with the high central dome, the discreet niches, the circular and welcoming spaces, hosts in the main chamber that traditionally marks the entrance of men, a semicircular structure that interacts with the architecture. The installation “Rain of Glass Words” will recreate the form of a large globe, from which hang, like drops of water, precious Murano glass sculptures that repeat the Ottoman calligraphy.