Ömer Koç

Supporting Turkey’s art scene and more

The purpose of biennials can be questioned, but when a country experiences the kind of turbulence that Turkey has in 2016, with its arts scene coming under increasing political pressure (see, for instance, the cancelation of this year’s Çanakkale Biennial), it helps for artists to have friends in high places. Koç, deputy chairman of the board at multi-industry conglomerate Koç Holdings, has long extended his private passion of art collecting into patronage, not least committing to sponsoring the Istanbul Biennial for 20 years, from 2007 to 2026. The company, on Koç’s behest, also partly bankrolls Turkey’s participation in the Venice Biennale, sponsors the International Nasreddin Hodja Cartoon Contest and, in 2010, established the nonprofit exhibition space Arter. During an attempted coup by elements of the Turkish military in July, the gallery was showing Not All That Falls Has Wings, a philosophical group show musing on the act of falling.