ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Istambul Agora’s goal is to bring the Sao Paulo public a small sample of the city’s vibrant art scene and the main questions and themes contemporary Turkish visual artists are raising.
Sao Paulo will hold its Turkish festival, Istambul Agora, starting this week. The festival’s events will include an Ara Güler exhibition, and concerts by Yasemin Mori and Baba Zula. The two-week festival also includes an exhibition called “Hoje Istambul” (Today’s Istanbul), which brings together installations and videos from artists whose practice is closely related to contemporary life in the city of Istanbul.
Istambul Agora’s goal is to bring the São Paulo public a small sample of the city’s vibrant art scene and the main questions and themes contemporary Turkish visual artists are raisıng.
Istanbul occupies a unique position in the world, belonging simultaneously to the continents of Europe
and Asia. This position is inevitably reflected in the works presented here, which include pieces representing several contemporary systems of representation and circulation. Themes such as the European economy, the circulation of capital, and immigration appear in Ahmet Öğüt’s work. Camila Rocha, the only Brazilian artist based in Istanbul whose work is included in the show, raises the topics of identity and representation. Can Altay deals with the urban environment of Istanbul, its history, and its politics of inclusion and exclusion. Işıl Eğrikavuk investigates how information is manipulated by the contemporary press and how the “other” is portrayed by the Western media. Finally, Hüseyin Alptekin, one of the most important contemporary Turkish artists, who died in 2007, will be represented by a video installation on everyday life in two different cities (Bombay and Rio de Janeiro), in which he
observes how public spaces are occupied.
Öğüt will exhibit his piece “Perfect Lover,” which takes its name from Felix Gonzalez Torres’ famous piece. The work involves two wall clocks working in perfect unison. Another of Öğüt’s pieces places together two coins of the same size: one two-euro coin, valid throughout Europe, and one one-Turkish Lira coin, which is currently worth slightly more than one-fifth of the European coin’s value.
Rocha will exhibit her video work titled “Yedikule.” Yedikule is the name of an old fortress, where Rocha recorded mysterious images of Muslim women wandering in a group. The place was formerly a treasury vault, archive and state prison during the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, and today it is a tourist attraction. As the women, dressed in black, appear, the evening prayers begin.
“Dogs of an Island,” a piece by Ankara-based artist Altay, begins with two stories about the stray dogs of Istanbul. It takes a collection of photographs from the streets of Istanbul, mainly showing stray dogs hanging around on the streets in various action or portrait shots, and combines them with photographs of the pages of a book about the 19th-century Europeanization of the Ottoman Empire, and its effects on neighborhood dogs. Altay produces installations using video, maps, books and photographs, which incorporate different forms of research about the urban environment.
Eğrikavuk takes the invisible, the hidden, and the secured into consideration and displays them through an interview with one of the protagonists of a specific event, in her video work “Infamous Library.” In her videos and performances, Eğrikavuk creates situations which confuse our perception of reality. By mimicking the format of television news, her documentary-style videos enact fictional stories and intentionally create a space for doubt about the truthfulness of information that was seemingly transmitted with impartial objectivity.
Alptekin’s video works “Incident-s Ipanema” and “Incident-s Bombay” are from his film series “Incident-s,” documenting many different localities, such as Turkey, Kosovo, India, and Brazil. These are places Alptekin made his temporary home for periods in the years before his death. Alptekin said he was “not on a search for an ‘other’ to mediate for, but for silhouettes of what may be shared.” Festival events
The two-week festival will also host a solo exhibition by Ara Güler, a photographer famous for his images of the old Istanbul. Turkish DJs including Barış K, Kaan Düzarat and İpek İpekçioğlu will perform in Brazilian clubs, and Turkish musical groups such as Yasemin Mori and Baba Zula will meet Brazilian music lovers. Turkish Kurdish singer Aynur Doğan will also perform, and dance workshops and seminars will be held to introduce Turkish culture to Sao Paolo.