»Greetings From Now On: Territories of Commitments«
Ali Taptık, Buğra Erol, Joana Kohen, Seza Bali, Yusuf Sevinçli, Zeynep Beler
Opening: Friday, October 21, 2016, 18h (Facebook Event)
Exhibition: October 22 – December 23, 2016
Opening hours: Tue-Fri 11-19h, Sat 13-18h, and by appointment
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.
A storage system based on geolocation as a tribute to family memory; empty houses and the traces of human presence left behind; views of contemporary « flâneurs » in urban space, figuring the crisis; Signs of involvement of an artist fighting for individuality in the local and global art market or reactivating the picture archive of an environmental NGO. Various voices, multiple intensities.
The range of practices of the six artists 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 action1. 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 Taptık’s series The Drift features urban scapes, images captured in the constantly changing city. Infused with a deep sense of instability, Taptık’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, Taptık 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 Taptık, capturing the city in moody black and white images. Sevinçli 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 buildings, left unachieved, 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 even before it could arrive; yet all the traces of projected life are still there. New patterns appear on the wall, dust settles on the floor. Beler does not give an 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. Buğra Erol 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 are partially ripped or moulded to the shape of the stack of cards arranged by country. Bali 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. In her pieces Kohen specifically negotiates 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.
Ali Taptık (1983) is an artist and PhD Candidate in Architectural Design at ITU. Representation of urban landscape and architecture, the relationship between the individual and the city, psychogeography and interaction of literature and visuality are some of the themes that he explores. In addition to working with institutions to document and research the ever-changing Istanbul, Taptık has published several books including Kaza ve Kader (Filigranes Editions, 2009); Depicting Istanbul (Akin Nalca, 2010), There are no failed experiments. (Atelier de Visu, 2012) and Nothing Surprising (Marraine Ginette, 2015). His works have been exhibited in various institutions including SALT (Istanbul), MAXXI (Rome), Elliott Erwitt Havana Club 7 Award (UNSEEN Photo festival, Amsterdam), Ashkal Alwan (Beirut) and Venice Biennial for Architecture. Taptık is one of the founders of Bandrolsüz collective, for the distribution of independent artists’ books.
Yusuf Sevinçli (1980) studied documentary photography and is the 2004 winner of the Young Photographer of the Year award in Sweden. He has had several residencies in France and exhibits widely, most recently at La Filature in Mulhouse, France, and at 5533 Art Space in Istanbul. He has participated in numerous fairs including Paris Photo in 2015 and Istanbul Contemporary Art Fair in 2014 and is represented by Galerie Les Filles du Calvaire, in Paris.
Zeynep Beler (1985) has a background in graphic design and photography. In addition to completing several residency programmes, she exhibits extensively in Istanbul, in 2016 alone at the YTÜ Yüksel Sabanci Sanat Merkezi, the Kucukciftlik Park for the Mamut Art Project, at the iNS and Istanbul Modern.
Buğra Erol (1986) graduated from Yeditepe University Fine Arts Faculty, Plastic Arts Department in 2012. His works have been part of many exhibitions, including “Beautiful Monuments of Decay”, Daire Gallery, Istanbul (2015); “Concrete Utopia”, Realismus Club, Berlin (2015); “Merz 3000”, Plato Art Space, Istanbul (2014); “90 Minute Shows”, Contemporary Istanbul International Art Fair (2014); “by Marcus Graf”, Papko, Istanbul (2014).
Seza Bali (1982) works with the photographic medium. She received her MFA from San Francisco Art Institute and BA in Fine Arts from The George Washington University. Her work has been exhibited internationally including in Elipsis Gallery and MIXER in Istanbul; The Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins; Togonan Gallery and San Francisco Airport Museum, San Francisco; UNSEEN Photo Fair, Amsterdam; and Contemporary Istanbul. She has participated in artist residency programs in Finland and Canada. Her monograph “One Man Show” was published by Extracurricular Press in 2012.
Joana Kohen (1988) completed her studies in textile design and fine art at the Istituto Marangoni, Milan, and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp. She exhibits widely in Turkey and her work has recently been featured at the Benetton Foundation Art Collection, Treviso, Italy, and at Abrazo Interno Gallery, New York. Kohen has also participated in several international art fairs, notably Contemporary Istanbul, Spectrum Miami Contemporary and Contra London.