Depo is a space for culture, arts and critical debate in the city center of Istanbul. Depo focuses on practices which deal with historical and contemporary social issues. Its program includes exhibitions, screenings, panel discussions, workshops and presentations and it publishes an online journal titled Red Thread. Depo aims to become a hub where politically and socially engaged projects are realized and to provide artists, curators, cultural operators, academics, researchers and a wide audience with a platform for exchange of ideas and experiences.
Depo is located in a former tobacco warehouse (Tütün Deposu) in Tophane, Istanbul. Until the 1950s the building was used as a warehouse and beginning with the 9th International Istanbul Biennial in 2005 it was occasionally used as an exhibition and project space. In 2008, following the renovation work which was carried out preserving the original features of the building, the Depo team started working here and the first exhibition was held in January 2009. The annex building was renovated in 2009 and used for screenings and workshops with the children from the neighborhood, as well as various exhibitions. Since February 2012 it is hosting Açık Radyo, an independent radio station.
Depo is an initiative of Anadolu Kültür (www.anadolukultur.org), a not-for-profit organization working in the field of culture. Through various projects, Anadolu Kültür aims to support local regional initiatives, to emphasize cultural diversity and cultural rights and to strengthen interregional and international collaboration.
With its accessible and flexible structure Depo aims to meet the need in Istanbul's culture and art scene for non-commercial, independent spaces open to critical voices.
Depo predominantly hosts exhibitions which deal with social and political issues. Looking back at the past shows, two major categories stand out; research based, documentary projects and art exhibitions. The themes taken up by these shows can be assessed under the captions of dealing with the past, politics of memory, human rights, minority rights, social movements, urban transformation and youth culture. During almost every exhibition a side event is organized where artists and project initiators get together with the audience or the topic is discussed with the participation of experts from the field.
Depo organizes discussions independently on various subjects, within the context of a specific program or accompanying an exhibition. These events aim to stimulate critical reflection and create new partnerships between people not only from the cultural and academic fields but also from different generations and backgrounds. Depo is a member of Time To Talk (tttdebates.org) network which is formed by debate centers from around Europe. As part of this program, abstracts from video recordings of the debates on contemporary social and political issues are posted on the website of the organization.
SaturDox Documentary Screenings program organized in collaboration with Documentarist since 2009 features noteworthy examples of international documentary cinema and the work of local documentary filmmakers. The screenings held every other Saturday are accompanied by presentations by activists and academics working in fields related to the issues dealt with in the documentary films. Since 2015, SaturDox has been setting the thematic framework, the documentaries and the discussants, in collaboration with other NGO's. Depo also hosts screening programs composed of artist videos and films.
The project Red Thread is envisioned as an active network and platform for exchange of knowledge and collaboration of artists, curators, social scientists, theorists and cultural operators from the Balkans, the Middle East, the Caucasus and North Africa. It aims to create and widely disseminate new knowledge about paradigmatic socially engaged art practices in a wide geopolitical context, thus challenging the predominance of Western narratives in official art histories and exhibition making. Red Thread has an active and accessible website and all texts published are available in English and Turkish.