artist buşra tunç has introduced ‘äther’, a site-specific installation featuring different arrangements of fluorescent lights enclosed in specimen bell jars. the four-piece project, designed for the niches along the staircase of the goethe-institut, in galatasaray, istanbul, aims to address the ideas of the object, of collecting, storing, and preserving, as inspired from the cabinets of curiosities of the italian renaissance.

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the installation arrangements are guided by the aesthetics of preservation spaces, such as cabinets of curiosity and laboratories

all images by orhan kolukısa – yerçekim architectural photography



äther, realized by buşra tunç, is one of the installations included in the ‘objects of curiosity’ exhibition, curated by ekmel ertan. the exhibition focuses on the idea of the cabinets of curiosity (wunderkammer) that emerged in the 16th century. cabins of curiosity were special collections where natural or man-made extraordinary objects were brought together as an effort to classify the knowledge of ‘things’. 

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fluorescent light, a typical industrial object, clashes with the unique idea of wunderkammer



placed inside specimen bell jars, the fluorescent lights showcase different forms and compositions on each floor. their arrangements are guided by the aesthetics of preservation spaces, such as cabinets of curiosity and laboratories. cabinets of curiosity are display units in which collectibles are exhibited, while fluorescent lights are common industrial items found everywhere. in this way, the installation establishes a functional opposition relationship between the unique and the ordinary.

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the installation was designed for the niches along the staircase of the historical building



on the other hand, light itself is a phenomenon that does not conform to the habits of storing and preserving. under common conditions, light is directed towards objects through the physical act of illumination. in this work, light reverses this dominance of the eye over the object. instead of a source of illumination for other objects, it manifests itself. in this manifestation, light passes through the glass, so it is not truly stored.

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buşra tunç, who frequently works with items which point at industrial production processes, follows a similar path in this study. in one of the compartments, the specimen jars are filled with phosphor and glass powder, which are commonly used in the production of fluorescence lights. the display of the materials that constitute the tubes structurally, the debris, and defective fluorescent tubes along with functioning ones, states a prioritization of the very nature and alteration of objects instead of the hierarchy of collectibles.

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äther features fluorescent lights of various colors and sizes, specimen bell jars, glass tubes, shards of fluorescent tubes, glass sand, glass powder, and phosphorus

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project info:


name: äther
type: site-specific installation
artist: buşra tunç
exhibition: curious objects
curator: ekmel ertan
goethe-institut, galatasaray, istanbul
dates: 13.02.2020 -15.09.2020
thanks to: jorela karriqi, karabey yaman, yervant demirçi, thomas demirçi



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: myrto katsikopoulou | designboom