Turkish artist Bedri Baykam’s new exhibition puts the assassination of JFK front and center, 50 years after the US president was killed in Dallas
You Can’t Say Dallas Doesn’t Love You Mr. President. Mixed media on canvas
People around the world can still remember what they were doing on Nov. 22, 1963, when the last sitting president of the United States was assassinated in Dallas. Fifty years have passed since John F. Kennedy was killed, but the mystery surrounding his murder has yet to dissipate despite the passage of five decades.
Appropriately, Turkish artist Bedri Baykam’s latest exhibition, “8 Seconds that Changed the World,” delves into the circumstances surrounding JFK’s death. Even more fittingly, the show at Piramid Sanat opened on Nov. 22.
Fifty years later, the question as to who might have killed Kennedy or organized the conspiracy to commit murder remains largely unsolved. A few hours after Kennedy’s death, Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested as the “lone-nut assassin” that had killed the president. Although Oswald denied the accusations, uncertainty over the real circumstances surrounding the assassination grew after the prime suspect was himself killed a few days later by Jack Ruby, the owner of a nightclub in Dallas.
The JFK assassination, which continues to be the source of much speculation along with other episodes in American
history, has produced a wealth of books and films.
In the exhibition text, Baykam said he also experienced the shock of the assassination in 1963 when he was 6, adding that he had engaged in amateur research on the case since the incident. The artist has previously traveled twice to Dallas for research, scoured through dozens of books and videos and met the directors of the 6th Floor Museum and independent international experts on the case, such as Robert Groden and Don Miller.
4-D lenticular works
Power Poker. 4-D work.
Baykam’s exhibition consists of canvases, 4-D lenticular works, installations, soundtracks and videos. The artist also has two videos on display at the exhibit; the first is an eight-hour video in which Baykam discusses the case. The second is an hour-long “abstract visual collage” video about the assassination. The Turkish version of the long video is about 10 hours.
During the exhibition, there will be film showings and panel discussions about the JFK assassination at Piramid Sanat. In the exhibition catalogue, meanwhile, there will also be articles by critic Emin Çetin Girgin and forensic scientist Sevil Atasoy, alongside Baykam’s own article. Baykam will further publish a book on the Kennedy case that carries the same name, “8 Seconds that Changed the World” in 2014. The first chapter of the book has been included in the exhibition catalog as a teaser.
Baykam, who is a well-known political activist and writer in addition to being an artist, has previously created historical exhibitions focusing on the Turkish War of Independence (Kuvay-ı Milliye - 1994), the May 27 Revolution in 1960 (555K-1990), the 1968 Generation (1997), the Cuban Revolution and Che Guevara (1998) and contemporary Turkey (I’m Torn Inside- 2010).
“8 Seconds that Changed the World” will be on display at Piramid Sanat until Jan. 5, 2014.