Voyage through a Country: 1 day to 5

The works in the exhibition Voyage through a Country: 1 day to 5 investigate a variety of positions and possibilities addressing the challenges of life and the way in which one confronts the ‘memory of a city’ towards transient spaces, which are created while representing different aspects of Turkey at a slippery ground. The project Voyage through a Country: 1 day to 5 does not present works that are produced either on behalf of the past and its records or on nostalgia, it includes notions of stillness, a sense of silence and darkness, where everything dies a little and where something has been left asleep inside of us and is still to be awakened.

Nevin Aladağ presents autonomous urban subjects in her video Raise the Roof, which refers to the performance of the same name and features four women dancing on top of an industrial building in Berlin to music heard only on their headphones while their stiletto heels punch holes in the roofing. Moving high above the city on a summer day, they look slightly out of place while the city below them seemingly takes no notice of their existence.

In his video work Wonderland, Halil Altındere documents of the anger, resistance and hope voiced by the children of Sulukule, a neighbourhood of Istanbul which for six centuries hosted the Roma population of the city and their culture, and was demolished as a result of a decision made in 2006 as part of an urban transformation project. The work which features the artist using a new cinematic language that oscillates between video clip and video-art for the first time, displays how one subculture (hip-hop) can flourish and live within another subculture (Roma). As the prosperity promised by the TOKİ homes built in place of their neighbourhood demolished by the municipality ends up serving nothing more than social inequality, poverty and infrastructural problems, the deep-rooted life-style shaped with music and dance of the people of Sulukule faces oppression and irreversible corrosion. Istanbul’s adventure of concretization, gentrification and “hygienisation”, is voiced by the group Tahribad-ı İsyan and accompanied by Altındere’s visuals, which land like “a punch in our stomach, producing a dreamlike reality that is difficult to digest, and to forget” as Dino Dinçer Şirin states.

Ergin Çavuşoğlu is known for his lyrical and unsettling video installations that reconstitute our sense of space, and pose questions about our understanding of place and identity in a globalised society marked by mobility. His single channel video Empire (after Andy Warhol) reframes an ordinary building in reference to the representation of an iconised structure, while shifting from the global to the local.

Çavuşoğlu’s video captures in a static shot the transition from day to night, surrounding a residential apartment block and thus reframing the extant strangeness of a minaret rising through the roof of the apartment in Karabük (Turkey), which remains occupied while the main part of the mosque with the prayer room for worshipping is situated in the basement of the apartment. Borrowing his title from Andy Warhol’s film ‘Empire’, which consists of a single shot of the Empire State Building and runs 8 hours and 6 minutes and chronicles the passage from day to night, Çavuşoglu’s video rather echoes the ‘space of current relations’ associated with notions of temporal and spatial continuity in which the concepts of domestic comfort are unsettled through an unrelenting gaze, this is where we witness something different, ‘another truth.’

Gülsün Karamustafa tackles the severe winter of 1954 when the Bosporus was filled with blocks of ice floating from the Black Sea Region in her video Bosphorus 1954. The event is still remembered as an “Urban Legend.” This unexpected situation enabled the citizens of Istanbul to walk on foot over the sea in a miraculous way from one side to the other, stepping on ice blocks. Karamustafa tries to make up a recollection piece following the traces through images and narrations for those enchanting moments.

The irony employed in Şener Özmen‘s works operates along multiple layers of the centre-periphery dichotomy, raising questions about global power asymmetries manifested also within the Turkish society. Our Village is one of the exceptional works of Özmen in which the political edge is presented without any recourse to a humorous mediation, which might accompany the grimness of the existing conditions and herald possibilities of unravelling these asymmetries and produce occasions of reach. Alternatively, this presents a cross-referencing connection where the idyllic character of the Kurdish folk song chanted by two little girls is disrupted when bruises appear on their faces with each looping of the song. The girls sing on top of previously recorded material, which hints at the fact that the selection of these particular lyrics has a dictated massage, alluding to the methods of the authoritarian model of imposed modernism, inspecting and limiting the cultural activities of Kurdish ethnicity, aggravating the economic and social poverty and designates hierarchies.

To summarise, this project Voyage through a Country: 1 day to 5 presents a variety of artistic stances, showing how present day individuals have to ‘own’ an anthology of changing ideas to interpret the contemporaneousness of the present, especially in terms of notions regarding the ‘manifestation’ in their subject positions and positionalities in a seemingly globalised world at the midst of transient spaces.

Ülkeyi bir uçtan bir uca kateden yolculuk: 1 ile 5 gün arası sergisinde yer alan çalışmalar kaygan bir zemine yerleştirilmiş Türkiye'nin farklı yönlerini gösterirken, yaratılan geçici alanlar üzerinden hayatın zorluklarını 'şehrin hafızasına' yönelik yaklaşımlarla tartışmaya açan çeşitli pozisyonları ve olasılıkları inceliyor.

Bununla birlikte, bu proje geçmişi konu edinen, geçmişin kayıtlarına ya da nostaljisine yönelik üretilmiş eserleri sergilememektedir; ama geçmişin durgunluğunu, sessizlik ve karanlık hissini, her şeyin yavaş yavaş öldüğü, yine de bir şeylerin ileride uyanmak üzere içimizde bir yerde uyumaya bırakıldığı şeyleri gözler önüne seriyor.

Özetlemek gerekirse, özellikle geçici alanların ortasında görünüşte küreselleşmiş bir dünyada öznel konumlarının ve kişiliklerinin kavramsal 'tezahürü/dışavurumu' bağlamında, günümüzün çağdaşlığını farklı yaklaşımlarla yorumlayan fikirlerden oluşan bir antolojiye ‘sahip olmaları’ gerektiğini gösteren çeşitli sanatsal duruşlar sunmaktadır.

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