Istanbul’s Pera Museum has recently opened the new season with two exhibitions, “Katherine Behar: Data’s Entry” on the third floor of the museum and “Encounters,” which brings together artwork from students at Akdeniz University’s Faculty of Fine Arts on the fourth and fifth floors.
The first museum survey exhibition of New York-based artist Katherine Behar, who moves fluidly between sculpture, performance, video and writing, “Katherine Behar: Data’s Entry” explores the often confounding and sometimes rebellious ways that people and technologies manage to coexist in digital labor.
Behar seeks out solidarities between humans and nonhumans and finds in these connections unexpected traces of traditional gender, racial and class dynamics. She shows how data acts not only as a powerful technological commodity, but also as a universal measure. As a measure, data is becoming a great leveler of the differences that traditionally separate people from machines.
“It is easy enough to despise the digital dross of so much junk culture. But insofar as we reflect ourselves in the products we create and love to hate - fabricating new technologies to overcome our human limitations and retrofitting ourselves to accommodate their inevitable shortcomings - we engage in a cycle of mutual imprinting. And so, we must ask: As we code ourselves into technology, bit for bit, what becomes of the ugly bits? Are they augmented along with the rest?” Behar said.
The artist, who focuses on gender and labor in today’s digital culture, is keen to show the audiences how contemporary dualities blend together; humans and nonhumans, organic and inorganic, digital and analog, handmade and machine-made, real and virtual.
The exhibition includes the post-apocalyptic “USB” sculpture series, “E-Waste; 3D-&&,” in which a 3D printer grinds out Morse code messages for a herd of computer mice, robotic vacuums doing the Roomba Rumba and a selection of the artist’s parodic and poignant video works.
In three new works inspired by the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation’s “Anatolian Weights and Measures Collection,” the artist challenges the metaphor of cloud computing, which suggests that data is atmospheric and weightless. Artwork from Fine Arts students
The other exhibition at the museum, “Encounters,” brings together artwork from Akdeniz University’s Faculty of Fine Arts.
The exhibition includes artwork by students from the university’s painting, sculpture, graphic design, photography, traditional arts and cinema departments.
Encompassing works by first graduates and more recent ones, as well as those by graduate students, the selection embraces references to the city’s colorful fabric and its rich cultural history.
Curated by Ebru Nalan Sülün, the exhibition cherishes the idea that methods and media are merely tools in artistic production and make room for an interdisciplinary dialogue and analysis of diverse aesthetic and thematic approaches.
Different themes in the exhibition include: The “Metamorphosis of the Body,” which focuses on the question of metamorphoses and uses of the body, and “Abstraction,” which includes paintings and sculptures along with traditional arts, with abstract renderings of city plans executed with traditional techniques.
The selection in “Conceptual Approaches” gives the opportunity to observe different approaches to conceptual art and the uses of “ready-made” presented at the faculty.
In “Digital Universe-Publicity,” it is possible to see works from the university’s department of graphics as well as from the photography and traditional arts departments.
The section “Documentary,” formed from works within the documentary photography and video art department, also give the opportunity to observe perceptual differences in “documentary” methods and production processes.
Both exhibitions, which opened on Sept. 8, can be visited through Oct. 16 at Pera Museum.