V&A Commission

Istanbul-based architecture firm Tabanlıoğlu Architects brought Sabahattin Ali’s classic 1943 novel Madonna in a Fur Coat to life on the bridge over the V&A’s Medieval & Renaissance galleries.

Madonna in a Fur Coat is one of the greatest novels in Turkish literature,” said Murat Tabanlıoğlu; “We wanted to introduce the book to a new audience in London, as the book has recently been published in English translation for the first time in its 73-year history.”

The evocative installation, titled Beloved, took the form of a 13-metre-long mirrored black box on the bridge. Visitors were able to peer inside through cracks in the surface of the enclosure to see atmospheric scenes from the novel re-created using cinematic techniques, physical objects, text, light, and sound.

“The installation is a physical, multi-sensory realisation of the way the human mind imagines scenes from a book as they read,” said Tabanlıoğlu. “It’s a very intimate experience that celebrates literature, passion and the human condition.”

Tabanlıoğlu Architects chose to site the installation on the bridge as a metaphor to describe the themes of the novel, which deals with the relationship between a young Turkish man and an enigmatic German woman, and is set between interwar period in two cities; Berlin and Ankara.

“The novel’s conclusion is that you should never evaluate people based on their appearance,” said Tabanlıoğlu. “It is the same with our installation. At first glance, you see just a huge black box. When you get up close, though, you can peer inside and witness the interior life of the book.”

London Design Festival at the V&A

The London Design Festival at the V&A

For 2017, the Festival will continue its unique collaboration with the world’s leading Museum of art, design and performance. As the central hub location for the London Design Festival for the eighth year, the V&A will again house a broad range of commissioned activity which will be spread throughout the Museum and include installations, events, talks and workshops.

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