Collective Memories

An Artistic Way of Linking the Present with the Past

SALT Beyoǧlu in İstanbul just opened a collection of international artists’ aproaches to historic events and its current implication. A Century of Centuries treats notions of what is called collective memory but also very personal ways of remembering transformative moments and experiencing its ramifications, thereby linking past and present.

Starting with Hera Büyüktaşçıyan’s installation that deals with the forced departure of the original Siniossoglou Apartment’s dwellers around the mid-1950s: The traces of this traumatic period have disappeared from the building, which hosts now the SALT Galery, but the impact can still be imagined by reflecting upon the uncertainty of the city’s future. Didem Pekün’s filmographic work of dices and men as well as Yasemin Özcan’s threehundredone neckles are treating recent political events in Turkey and how it inflicts their personal life. Özcan’s neckles refers to the 2005 inaugurated law that makes it illegal to “insult Turkey” and its institutions, entailing so far 60 trials on its base. The golden neckles and its connotation of beauty is turned into absurdity when thinking about the serious implications for the writers or artists accused on foundation of this law.

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The work of Dilek Winchester, Shilpa Gupta, Kapwani Kiwanga and Judith Raum are reflecting on effects of our state system, national relationships and colonialism. Gupta’s paintings revolve around the implications of states and borders in Asia’s chhitmahal’s. Deriving from the word fragment, the term indicates land enclaves in Bangladesh but belonging to India – and vice versa. This situation, stemming from a feudal state system, turn the dwellers into cue balls of the neighboring ruling states, often with ridiculous consequences: In visualising cough sirup that is forbidden in the one state, but legal in the other or hundreds of cow browsing at the borderline as just a certain number is allowed to enter the enclave, Gupta points out the absurdities of our state system.

This situation is also theme of Winchester’s as if nothing has ever been said before us – a tracing of the forced oppression of Turkey’s language diversity and the sudden abandonation of the Ottoman language. The involvement of German Bank in the colonial opening of Anatolia is the motive of Raum’s collection of paintings, photographs and audio witnesses. She shows the deriving hegemonial power between the states, its implications upon anatolian citizens and concludes them to be not only relicts of the past, but structures that still exist totay.

German’s colonial past is also subject to Kiwanga’s installation that examines in …rumours Maji was a lie the largest uprising on the African continent during the Maji War. The installation contains a compendium of mystified objects and references that revolve around notions of belief and explore how history is extrapolated and mediated over time.


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The Goodness Regime, a film directed by Jumana Manna and Sille Storihle, investigates the foundations of the ideology and self-image of modern Norway through pointing incidents of the past. How history is not only collectively remembered but also turned into touristic consumerism is displayed in Maha Maamoun’s video work Like Milking a Stone which is a collage of different egyptian movie scenes, featuring the pyramids as their backround.

Chto Delat?’s film-performance installation attempts to seek out a new language to help express the current climate of politics and civil life in general: The fact that due to neoliberal governments and its acting within “states of emergency” which set them outside of law boundaries public space is fading away and the helplessness of citizens facing this situation – in Russia as well as in Turkey and other countries. The question they ask is: “What kind of art is possible now? Or is it altogether impossible?” The artist collective’s film is inspired by the fate of Ippolit Myshkin, a militant Russian narodnik and tragic figure of the Russian Revolution – although his attempts were deemed to failure, his figure continues to have an affect and stays as a symbol for civil resistance untill today.

Especially for this exibition the dance ensemble Erinç Aslanboğa, Natalie Heller and Bahar Temiz, developped the performance Trailer that treat rememberance of historic events in a collective as well as in their very personal way.


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A Century of Centuries – the title referring to the huge amount of incidents, events that impacts upon human society as well as every person individually. Some are forgotten, most are still remembered, consciously or unconsciously. Some of them still continue to influence the present. In showing a very small selection of worldwide occurences and its treatment by international artists, the exibition reflects upon what remembering means, in terms of collective rememberance but also in terms of the memory’s role in personal life stories. Away from the demand to learn from the past, it shows the importance of rethinking about it and seeing the links that reach to today, and therefore initiate to deliberate about our current way of living.

A Century of Centuries is one of a series of projects SALT will unroll not only in 2015 but also in 2016 to speak about things that matter, and most importantly the ramifications of the genocide.

The performances are presented from March 11 untill April 3, Wednesday and Friday at 18:30 as well as Sunday at 16:30 on the third floor of SALT Beyoğlu, İstiklal Caddesi, İstanbul. The exibition will be shown untill May 24.


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