Greetings From Now On: Territories of Commitments
Exhibition, 22.10.2016 – 23.12.2016
Territories of Commitments at BERLINARTPROJECTS is the first in a series of exhibitions on current photography: Greetings From Now On. This edition brings together the probing work of six Istanbul-based artists, showing how they negotiate and interact with the space which they inhabit – the rapidly expanding Turkish metropolis, conflicted and divided through the current complex urban and societal context and the significant recent changes that the city has been undergoing at one of the crossroads of global conflicts and migration crisis. A storage system based on geolocalisation as a tribute to family memory; abandoned houses and the traces of presence left behind; views of contemporary « flâneurs » in urban space, figuring the crisis; throwing spears to signify the involvement of an artist fighting for individuality in the local and global art market or reactivating archive slides of an environmental NGO. Various voices, multiple intensities. The range of practices is diverse, yet united by a sense of cause, of individual commitment that permeates the works on show. Their artistic stances seem to be rooted and somehow guided by a physical reality and its components; the territory as the site of investigation, production and action (1). The six artists react and comment in and on their environment, sometimes with critical attitude, always with dedication to individuality, to the point that they dream and shape their own form of territory, getting closer to the broadest sense of existential geography. They are involved in defending their position as free thinkers, in a “poetic constantly renewed by the physical and imaginary territories of intimacy” (2).
Ali Taptik’s series The Drift features urban scapes, images captured in the constantly changing city. Infused with a deep sense of instability, Taptik’s works use architecture as well as the territory of the body to give abstract form to the notion of crisis, what the artist calls “the communicable disease of our times”. Responding in particular to the migrant crisis, Taptik proposes strategies of resistance in an urban context through his images of crumbling dilapidated buildings and partially obscured figures, creating his very own brand of street photography. Known for his reflective monochrome works, Yusuf Sevinçli shares a conceptual link with Taptik, capturing the city in moody black and white images. Sevincli responds to the environment that surrounds him, giving expression to intimate thoughts and feelings, walking in slow motion through the metropolis, as if to counteract the frenetic pace of the cities. He taps into urban space, catching the movement of birds in flight or capturing a soap bubble zooming on the buildings, formulating his own relationship to the territory he inhabits. The empty houses of photographer and post-internet artist Zeynep Beler speak volumes about her stance toward real estate politics in Turkey, the abandoned buildings looking both mournful and striking in the bright daylight. Entitled The Estate, the series negotiates the vacant space of these structures, picking out details of ripped out pipes and the marks of torn out kitchen appliances. Life has left this territory, yet all the traces are still there. New patterns appear on the wall, dust settles on the floor. Beler does not give outright critique in these images, she merely shows the territory she finds through her lens. Buğra Erol’s lightbox takes on a larger territory, using slides from his time as a Greenpeace activist to create his work. Here we see social commitment turning into artistic conviction, one cause serving another. Errol shows territory upon territory, site upon site in his installations, shaping landscapes and urban scenes to form words, using his personal engagement in the ecological cause to serve his new purpose – a commitment to artistic forms of expression. Moving from a larger territory to a more intimate one, Seza Bali’s One Man Show is a series of letters containing business cards collected by her father who was a traveling salesman in Turkey. Spanning different cities and countries, the letters show the marks of wear and tear, the envelopes partially ripped or moulded to the shape of the stack of cards arranged by country. Bali here draws attention to her father’s unique archiving system, using a family anecdote to make a broader statement about how we classify geographical space – everyone has his own particular method of filing away information, often leading to political conflict on a more global level. A personal approach to art is also what characterises Joana Kohen’s practice, whose works show her fighting for her position as a female artist in Turkey and strongly engaging in the gender discourse – a conceptual territory as well as a political one. Her Future Female shows the artist throwing a spear over three different screens without revealing the target, aiming her best shot perhaps at those people in society that would stop her and other women from leading successful artistic careers. The piece sees Kohen specifically negotiating the socio-political environment she inhabits through time-based media. (Text: Katja Taylor)
(1) Hou Hanrou, Istanbul, Passion, Joy, Fury, 2016 ; “… the art community of Istanbul (carries) out its experimental activities directly from the everyday urban conditions – apartments, houses, streets, etc. have always been their sites of production and action”.
(2) Thierry Paquot, Qu’appelle-t-on un territoire?, in “Le territoire des philosophes”, 2009, Translated from French.