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Contemporary Art Program

Project Team

Zeynep OKYAY

Curator, PASAJ

Aslıhan GÜÇLÜ



Artist/Researcher, PASAJ


İstanbul Nişantaşı University

The Upper Town is an eclectic arts and research program that brings together arts and sciences. It presents all data from archaeological surface analysis as source material in artistic works. In this context, it also examines the impact of research and knowledge production on contemporary art practice.

In the first year of the Phoenix Project, the curators of the Upper Town residency program will begin with the preparatory process, during which they will conduct in-depth research to structure the artist residency for the artists, which will continue for the next four years.

The residency program connects with creative and academic communities in the region and on-site production, providing extensive research resources. Beyond intervening in the Taşlıca region, it aims to recognize the space and the needs and wishes of its inhabitants in order to make artistic suggestions suitable for the existing texture.

Artists/researchers are expected to carry out a series of workshops and production processes on topics such as the history and assets of the ancient settlement, urban memory, folk discourses, stories, and more. The Taşlıca Sofrası, which will be held once a month, provides a platform for community participation and interaction, aiming to collect.

The Upper Town focuses on collecting memories. Within the scope of the program, the family memories of the local people will come alive with the collective cultural backgrounds of the region, playgrounds, walking paths, meeting places, botanical assets, and food culture discoveries.

Zeynep Okyay (1985) studied Philosophy at Galatasaray University, Cultural Management at Bilgi University. She works on the development of artistic projects and networking of cultural actors/organizations. Since 2010, she mostly practices in the field of contemporary visual arts and carries out her curatorial and research-based works under the roof of PASAJ and amberPlatform. She is one of the co-founders of PASAJ independent art space based in Istanbul that collaborates with social communities and hosts project exhibitions, workshops, and talks.

Okyay focuses on the relationships between artists and communities, and the contexts in which the two meet within a specific location and time. In her research practice, she uses the dictionary form as an instrument to pursue social structures, sharing of knowledge and experience through vocabularies.

Aslıhan Güçlü graduated from Ege University, Department of Classical Archeology, and from Dokuz Eylül University, Faculty of Fine Arts, Department of Photography. After completing her master’s degree in Art and Design at the same university, she continues her doctoral studies in the photography department. With the ‘Sümerbank’ selection at IFSAK 2nd Young Photographers Festival in 2007, with the project ‘Flowers of Evil’ at the ‘Beyond Experience’ exhibition held at Pera Museum in 2012, ‘Never Changed’ series in the second edition of Mamut Art Project in 2014, 2016 In the year III. He took part in the Fotoistanbul Photography Festival with the “The Loss of Adam” project. In 2018, she participated in exhibitions at K2 Contemporary Art Center and Izmir Painting and Sculpture Museum with her photography and video works named ‘Manifesto’ and ‘Nihil’. With the start of the pandemic, Aslıhan Güçlü, who took part in the Izole Project together with invited artists from many cities, especially Istanbul, is also one of the participating artists of the Mahalle İzmir project carried out by GAPO. In her artistic works, she focuses on the relations between the human-altered geographies, cultural memory and the individual, while focusing on ordinary events in daily life. In addition, she continues her studies on gender and body abstraction. In addition, she took part in Daskyleion, Phokaia, Aigai, Hisarönü Çubucak Antique Ceramic Workshops excavations and Myrina and Gryneion surveys.

 Aslı graduated from Marmara University, Faculty of Fine Arts, Department of Painting. She is a multidisciplinary artist/researcher. Her research interests, which are located in the cross-section of art – technology –science are the production of speculations, loops, installations and performances with a special focus on the dystopia narratives, algorithmic cultures to human machine interactions. Aslı has exhibited her multimedia installations and performance works in international biennials, galleries and museums. She is also a member of PASAJ independent art space, based in Istanbul that collaborates with social communities and hosts project exhibitions / workshops. She is represented by Performistanbul.