Turkish curators have been increasingly involved in external cultural projects and Turkish artists have been featured in galleries and at art fairs in Dubai and Budapest.
Correspondingly, Istanbul fairs have welcomed galleries from around the region.
It will be argued that within this context, actors in the art world construct cognitive frames in order to put new territories on the map.
Therefore, increasing links between Istanbul and its surrounding region can be analysed as the outcome of the framing of the Middle East as an emerging region, and Istanbul as a rising regional centre.
This paper will critically examine an understanding of regional interactions as a consequence of Turkish soft power and elaborate on the construction of spatialised cognitive frames within the art world.
By asking how the Middle East has been framed as an emerging art market region, the study will discuss the ways in which Istanbul art galleries have seised this opportunity and subsequently altered their discursive position toward the relationship between Istanbul and the Middle East.
Nye (1990) coined the term “soft power” to analyse the reconfiguration of American presence in the world following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the bipolar order, which had been at the forefront of US military strategy for the past four decades.
Rather than resulting in the predicted decline of power, Nye argued that a variety of tools were available to the US to maintain their influence.
The contemporary arts sector has been analysed as a complex system of actors participating in the construction of a hierarchy of reputation (Moulin 2000; Thornton 2012; Heinich 2014).
However, the process of construction has not been geographically neutral in its effects, resulting in the unequal distribution of symbolic power (Quemin 2006).