Home and Away: moving images of new turkish art

HOME AND AWAY / moving images of new turkish art
Umetnostna galerija Maribor/ Maribor Art Gallery
Slovenia, Maribor, Strossmayerjeva ulica 6
15 December 2006 – 21 January 2007

opening: Friday, 15 December 2006 at 7 p.m.
opening performance: Erinç Seymen + son:DA, performance for song - part two

curator: Simona Vidmar, Curotor of Contemporary Art at Maribor Art Gallery

Umetnostna galerija Maribor invites you to get deep into streets of Istanbul with eight young established Turkish artists! You are wellcome to explore the real images of the city, its political identity, traumas and particularities as well as its incredable creative potentials. On show are new works by artist living in Istanbul and intensivly shaping international art sceene, working mainly in the field of moving images and its derivates.

The artists selected for this event are addressing their home, Istanbul, by delineating it in intimate stories, searching within it for their personal heritage (whether that be political, cultural, or national heritage…), they are commenting on problematic issues, they are angry, they are playful. Through their art they have established a set of unfinished conversations that above all highlight the multidimensional ways of conceptualising, understanding as well as producing contemporary art today. The paramount inclusion of the moving image of contemporary Turkish art is by no means coincidental - it is precisely the moving image and all its derivatives (multimedia installation, document performance, video stills…) which are quickest in arresting our attention by translating the ordinary into the extreme and vice versa.

''Home and Away'' is about tension: on the one hand there exist well-defined identities, cultural structures, and belonging, whereas on the other hand a resolved will is felt, calling for rebellion against these values, the need for asking questions, the search for distance, and even superficially declared acceptance when necessary… ‘’Home’’ is a mythical conception and in our case as much a mythical place as Istanbul itself. Still, the untenable conglomeration is much less of a shelter than it is a platform for provoking and reshaping political and social ideas. Istanbul is doubtless a city where change ranks highly on the agenda and where questions posed are always consequential. Let us then approach them by accentuating the sense of the visual!

The works of Osman Bozkurt, a photographer and videast from Istanbul, namely the video Auto-park and the photography Rest in Peace provide an illustrative introduction into the complex interplay of feelings of belongingness and the expression of being different. Both works are explicitly concerned with ‘’investigating bizarre situations that demonstrate the nexus of social paradoxes, ironies and parodies as modes of rejection’’ (Basak Senova). What is most striking is the universal presence and recognition of the aforementioned practices, which effectively, though strange as these practices are, return them to the realm of commonality and mediocrity. In a fashion similar to Bozkurt, but with a different choice of format, a decade younger videast Osman Doğu Bingöl, chases extraordinary situations. His short work Untitled offers no comments, gives no statements but rather lightly presents a paradoxical transformation of the main character from the depreciated worker, a cleaner, to the socially critical figure of spiritual leadership, the imam. Away from the city and then back again describes the path of a Dutch-born artist Hatice Güleryüz, currently living in Istanbul. Her complex work Strange Intimacies, a video presentation supplemented by an authorial book, photographs and texts, is first and foremost an artist’s testament of alienation, migrations and the eternal need to define home, to posses feelings of belongingness. Hereby, the author walks the edge and seeks extreme illustrations just to build her story on intimate confessions of foreigners living in Istanbul, through which ‘’a kind of obsessive, hopeless and overexposed love towards this addictive and uncanny city” is revealed (Basak Senova). At the forefront of dramatization stands the highly aestheticised dialogue with the city presented in a markedly cinematic, short video Untitled by the young artist Sefer Memisoglu. The starting-point of the perpetual sequence presented in the video is the emblematic image of the Galata tower, once a symbol of power, and an overseer of the city, now lost amidst the skyscrapers and the modern centre. It is used to tell a dark yet delicate story of a childhood, as seen by the author himself. With the next author, a young Kurdish artist living in Istanbul, Ahmet Ögüt, we are led astray from the direct attachment to the city and its emblems. His realm is play, comical yet simple, his language – pronounced modesty. Thus, things remain small, short and quiet. And yet this very style of short, slow and humorous videos and animations, such as Death Kit Train and Light Armoured provide an attempt at stimulating the general awareness of daily actions, the activation of the collective consciousness and memory. The artists Canan Şenol and Erinç Seymen share the determination to convert the quiet critical perceptions and denial of memory into disclosed and committed fight against factors, which dare to obstruct their paths. They belong to two generations, live in Istanbul in visualize their work as a kind of political statement. In both of her works, namely a book entitled Nisa-I /Pertaining to the Woman and a video installation Strange creature, the artist Canan Şenol embarks on the demanding field of the ‘female question’, i.e. the feminist problematic in Islamic society. Although, the works were created with the interval of 7 years falling between them the elements employed in both cases are virtually the same- the author draws upon old, traditional heritage (manuscripts) adding contemporary flavour in due course, adding her own image (personal photographs), which allows her to internalise and personify the problem she wishes to expose, the problem that she wishes to feel on her own skin. The works of the young author Erinç Seymen are intentionally radical and provocative and thus, create ‘’humorous transgression on the recently emerged sensitivities of moral conservativism, homophobia and the institution of religion’’ (Erden Kosova). In the photographic installation Boys Club the author assumes the role of voyageur, in order to expose the homophobic nature of the male-centred world, which defines the life in the public sphere of the Islamic world. He goes even further flaunting about a flag mimicking the style of Nazi symbolism and bearing the name, embroidered in gothic font, of the most famous Turkish fast food dish Börek. He is being actively provocative and on the outlook for reactions to nationalistic intimidation and the art of propaganda. In the performance for a poem - part two, the author is due to perform at the opening jointly with a Slovene artistic tandem son:DA (part one took place in Istanbul, in summer 2006), the author wearing the traditional Turkish wear recites an absurdly and a blatantly nationalistic Turkish poem. The screams, the discomfort, the hiding behind the manipulated picture and sound (the performance takes place in a space inaccessible to the viewer) tell us of distress and distrust facilitated by intolerance. The series of unfinished dialogues with the city is left off at its very starting-point; the series of real-life images of Istanbul today, which, neatly wrapped and distinguished by the high quality of reproduction, may serve as official postcards. Didem Ozbek offers her series of Real postcards of Istanbul for purchase!

Special thank for help and adwice to: Mrs. Beral Madra, Art Critic and Curator; Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center, Istanbul.

Exhibition will be inaugurated by Ms. Naciye Gökçen Kaya, First Counsellor, Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in Ljubljana.

Project supported by: Ministry for Culture of Republic of Slovenia, City Chamber Maribor, Turkish Airlines, RTS

Simona Vidmar, Senior Curator
02/ 250 25 43, 02/ 22 95 860, 041 369681