Artist Nevin Aladağ’s show exhibit in Istanbul

Artist Nevin Aladağ’s show exhibit in Istanbul

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Artist Nevin Aladağ’s show exhibit in Istanbul

Tradition and memories also play a role in ‘Five Stones Game,’ a series that documents this ancient, central-Asian game.

Istanbul art gallery Rampa brings together works from Nevin Aaladağ which have never been exhibited in Turkey before for an exhibition scheduled to run until May 26.

Trained as a sculptor at the Fine Arts Academy in Munich, Aaladağ adopts different mediums in her works, which vary from video, photography, sculptures, objects, performance pieces, site specific installations and public interventions. Aaladağ is interested in how cultural and social signs are used and interpreted. She employs these signs within her art practice, placing them in a context where they no longer belong to a specific territory, thus becoming images and ideas equipped with visual rhetoric.

“Significant Other” (2011), a video work in the exhibition, takes its cue from the infamous Milli Vanilli song “Girl you know it’s true.” In the work two actors, a man and a woman, stand on a small podium performing the chorus of the song.

Is there anything more faithful, more emotional, more beautiful than a man singing a love song to the woman he adores? In 1989 Milli Vanilli hit the charts worldwide with this single, but a year later their success turned to infamy when it was revealed that the lead vocals on the record were not the actual voices of the singers. Milli Vanilli had cheated a worldwide public by using playback recordings.

Astonishingly, one of the biggest frauds in the history of pop music relied on the confession of true love. But let us not fall for easy conclusions here. This work does not simply set the “fake” against the “authentic.” Pop music’s magic lies in the fact that it promises to address the individual (you) as well as the whole planet. We all know this is a lie, but it’s one we believe in.

 Aladag’s strategy is far more refined, as she takes pop music’s promise to be a universal language literally. After the opening song of “Significant Other,” we hear different people reflect on the topics of love and relationships with all the vocals lip-synched by the two protagonists. We see the lips of the male actor move, but we hear a woman’s voice. We see the female actor, but we hear a child’s voice, a foreigner’s voice etc. The effect is irritating and leaves us asking ‘who is talking here?’

Significant Other

“Significant Other,” as many of Nevin Aladags works, blurs the lines between authentic expression and role play, turning identity from something categorized by sex, age and origin into something negotiable. The simplest and at the same time most complex questions lay at the center of this oeuvre: Who are we? How do we want to live? Where do we come from? Searching for answers, Aladag investigates what may be called our cultural DNA - the point where the inner and the outer, self and society, determination and freedom collide.

In “Makramé” (2012), an object made out of wire, the knotting patterns are visualizations of the pattern inherent in the cable. Again, Aladag is contrasting the surface (the ornamental) and what’s behind it (the inner structure), this time around not in the universal realm of pop culture but in the more personal folklore. Tradition and memories also play a role in “Five Stones Game” (2009-12), a photo-series that documents this ancient, central-Asian game. Nevin Aladag, who was born in Van in east Turkey but grew up in Southern Germany and today lives in Berlin, learned this game from her mother. It is a culture inherited with a set of rules, but with countless numbers of variations.

The biggest work in the show pushes this constellation on yet another level. The work consists of imprints of body parts cast in ceramic. The pieces spread along the wall of the gallery like a climbing wall, inviting viewers to lean on, to see how their own body fits into this assemblage, which may well represent the average of society. Each viewer will surely find shapes that match and others that are completely at odds with his own body.

Nevin Aladağ, exhibit, Istanbul