Bergama Stereotip by Cevdet Erek at Arter
Cevdet Erek’s solo exhibition “Bergama Stereotip” opened on Feb. 26 at Istanbul’s Arter Gallery, consisting of a sounding architecture conceived for the gallery space.
Curated by Selen Ansen, the exhibition takes the architecture and odyssey of the historical Great Altar of Pergamon as point of reference and reinterprets it.
A continuation and a variation of the work “Bergama Stereo,” which was first presented in Germany at Turbinenhalle as part of the Ruhrtriennale in Bochum and then in the historical hall of Hamburger Bahnhof Museum in Berlin in 2019, the installation takes the historical Great Altar of Pergamon as point of reference and reinterprets it.
The Great Altar of Pergamon, a Hellenistic edifice also known as the Zeus Altar, was an open-air monument presumably built in the 2nd century B.C. following the victory of the Pergamon Empire over the Galatians as a place where sacrificial ceremonies were considered to be held. Unearthed during the 19th-century archaeological excavations at the ancient city of Pergamon in the town center of present-day Bergama in İzmir, the altar was encircled by the Grand Frieze that depicts the battle between the underground Giants and the celestial Olympian gods.
At the turn of the 20th century, the remains of the Grand Frieze were transported from their original site located in the Ottoman Empire to Berlin, capital city of the newly born German Empire.
In Berlin, the monument was reimagined and reassembled in order to be exhibited at the Pergamonmuseum, a museum specially constructed for the altar. The historical displacement of the remains has given birth to an ongoing debate.
Featuring a portion of Bergama Stereo’s structure, “Bergama Stereotip” stands as a vestige in the first place: A reminder of the Great Altar and a remainder of Bergama Stereo, the work’s prior version.
Erek’s work offers an abstraction of the historical frieze made of white marble and transforms it into a wooden structure comprised of loudspeakers and loudspeaker casings. “Bergama Stereotip” interprets the Grand Frieze, featuring the battle between the Giants and the Gods, as a loudspeaker frieze that projects a sound composition into the gallery space.
Rather than the word “stereo,” which highlights auditory symmetry, “Bergama Stereotip” takes the concept “stereotype” which indicates the idea of repetition and impression as its focal point. Echoing the title of the work’s previous version while at the same time differing from it, the title of the work presented in Istanbul, “Bergama Stereotip,” introduces the different layers of interpretation embodied by the work.
As in Bergama Stereo, sound, architecture and historicity play a central role in “Bergama Stereotip.”
The auditory components of Erek’s work assume the function that visual elements played in the historical altar. The journey of the sound mirrors the historical odyssey of the altar. In a manner similar to the echo, an acoustic phenomenon which returns one’s voice back with difference and delay, and makes a voice audible at a distance from its source, the travelling sound of “Bergama Stereotip” lets that which is remote in terms of time and space be heard.
The sounds which can be heard in different combinations according to the viewer’s position remind us that every act of repetition implies an alteration, constituting the very possibility of change and novelty.
“Bergama Stereotip” presents itself as a site where the present looks at the past and reconsiders it anew as a place to be listened to, looked at, stepped on and its rhythms even danced along with.
“Bergama Stereotip” will be on view through Aug.9.