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Interview Series - Huma Kabakcı

We are starting a new interview series with our collaborators and colleagues in the creative industries. Our first guest is Huma Kabakcı, a curator and a collector based in London. We collaborated for London Design Festival 2022. Kabakcı curated our exhibition 'Coastal Myths'. While she prepared all the exhibition content, she also hosted a guided exhibition tour and co-organised exhibition events.

Instagram: @humakabakci

Portrait taken by Ben Petercatcpole

1.     What are your both digital and analogue favourite tools?


I swear by my Mauli gratitude journal, which a dear friend gifted me for my birthday. I also love the brand's ethos and way of working, so I started "sacred" journaling in their notebooks.


My favourite digital tool is my laptop (I know, not very inventive!) because I have all of my apps (including Whatsapp, InDesign, Lightroom, etc). I also swear by Google Drive for keeping everything in order.


2.     Who inspires you the most, whether an artist, designer, architect, or a family member?


Louise Bourgeois, Dorothea Tanning, Etel Adnan and Fahrelnissa-Zeid as painters. Lina Bo Bardi is an architect and exhibition designer. If I need to pick a living artist, it would be Nil Yalter. For the sake of not encouraging Nepostism, I'll stay away from suggesting a family member.

Hold Me Now curated by Huma Kabakci with artists Shannon Bono, Yulia Iosilzon & Vanessa da Silva. Photography by Matt Spour Courtesy of IONE & MANN.

3.     Share a new trend that excites you.


Maybe not quite a trend, but I am a massive fan of the @freeze_magazine Instagram page run by Cem A., critiquing the latest socio-political issues in a humorous and satirical way. I love his take on current “art world” problems in a transparent and thought-provoking way.


4.     Briefly discuss the latest book, movie, and exhibition you enjoyed and why.


The latest book I read was the fiction titled "Wandering Souls" by Cecile Pin, which I found to be poignant, timely and highly moving. After reading so many theory and non-fiction books for research and projects, it was refreshing to go back to fiction.


Based on my Letterboxd logging and review, the latest movie I watched was Subway (1985), a French underground film exploring the life of criminals and shady businessmen primarily shot in the metro. The latest movie I watched in the cinema was "Poor Things", where I thought Emma Stone's acting was ground-breaking, although I thought the storyline wasn't consistent and not structured well enough. But I would recommend it for the costumes and Stone's performance!

Hold Me Now curated by Huma Kabakci with artists Shannon Bono, Yulia Iosilzon & Vanessa da Silva. Photography by Matt Spour Courtesy of IONE & MANN.

5.     What's your go-to song in the studio?


I have been listening to Apricots by BICEP quite a lot recently but if I need to concentrate it would be a more tamed background Jazz or Classical music playlist on Spotify.


6.     What’s a good studio advice to share?


My studio is mostly my home or my local gallery Camden Art Centre’s café, and I do need to whizz around London quite a lot for meetings as a freelancer. So my studio advice would be “try to separate your personal living space to your work space area, even if it is a table, it makes a difference not to clog up your work space with dishes, flowers and candles alongside books”.


Eggism: How Would You Eat Yours? with artist Holly Stevenson hosted by Sid Motion and Pi Artworks as a part of Frieze Sculpture, photo courtesy of Pi Artworks and Duru Bebekoglu.

About Huma Kabakcı

Huma Kabakcı (b. London, 1990) is a second-generation collector, independent curator, and founding director of Open Space, living and working between London and Istanbul. Kabakcı recently joined the Drawing Room as a Development Manager. She studied at the London College of Communication and completed an MA in Curating Contemporary Art at the Royal College of Art. Kabakcı completed a curatorial fellowship at the 2018 Liverpool Biennial, supported by ICF (International Curators Forum). She has worked at commercial galleries, museums, and auction houses, both in the UK and Turkey, including Sotheby’s (London), The Albion Gallery (London), and Pera Museum (Istanbul). Kabakcı manages the Huma Kabakcı Collection, a private art collection comprising over 900 works of Turkish, Central Asian, and European contemporary art bequeathed to her by her late father Nahit Kabakcı. As part of the 2010 Ruhr & Pecs Capital of Culture projects she has overseen three major exhibitions of the Collection, at Osthaus Museum Hagen, Mönchehaus Museum Goslar, and Modern Hungarian Gallery, Pecs.

Open Space has collaborated with institutions such as Block Universe Performance Festival, Delfina Foundation, IKSV (Istanbul Biennial Foundation), SAHA Foundation, and SALT.

Kabakcı’s curatorial interest lies in creating immersive experiences and a wider dialogue in collaboration with multidisciplinary practitioners. She is also interested in theories and topics around diaspora, collective memory, and hospitality.

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