Letters from Abroad
Anatolian Carpets, Armenian craftsmen and Cultural Memory: the Berlin based artist Maja Weyermann displays her expirences of 6 month Istanbul in a video installation at DEPO, Istanbul until July 16.
Just one month after the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide 100 years ago, the exhibition by Maja Weyermann at DEPO Istanbul is dedicated to the role of Armenians in Turkey before 1915. Berlin based artist Maja Weyermann focussed on carpet production and the expropriation of Armenian foundations during her stay in Istanbul in 2014.
Maja has been living and working in Istanbul for six months in 2014. Her residency was granted by the Berlin Senate Chancellery, Cultural Affairs Department, and accompanied by Diyalog Derneği. “Letters from Abroad” displays the results of this residency, just like a current exhibition on gas masks by Ruben Aubrecht and Maria Anwander does in Bludenz, Austria.
When Maja came to Istanbul in March 2014 she at first planned to realize a digital art work about Anatolian carpets, its rich cultural heritage and referring to its meaning as a part of cultural memory. During her stay she did a lot of interviews with carpet dealers, workers at the bazar and Turkish historians. She discovered as well the abandond old buildings of the Armenian community in the center of Istanbul. Many of Armenians had left Turkey in the 50 years after the pogroms and the buildings stand often empty until today because the ownership is unclear.
Soon after starting her research many contradictions and inconsistent information appeared, which Weyermann could not classify until she learned about the key role of Armenian craftsmen and carpet dealers in Turkey before 1915. Weyermann continued her studies focussing on this fact and based her studies on the interviews with carpet experts, dealers, restorers and on special literature.
Another observation Maja made was the link between vacant real estate and restitution procedures in Istanbul. At this moment she came across the 2012 Declaration of the Hrant Dink Foundation. This declaration documents the confiscation of properties belonging to Armenian foundations by the Turkish state. Weyermann visited several objects in question and filmed them.
In the video installation exclusively produced for DEPO, Maja confronts the expropriation of material inherit – the seized properties – and the erasement of cultural inherit – the forgotten key role of Armenian craftsmen and carpet dealers. Like that she describes two aspects of the Armenian life in a very personal way.
Opening of Letters from Abroad at DEPO, June 12, introduction by Sabine Küper-Büsch and Thomas Büsch, Foto: Sven Flechsenhar
In “Letters from Abroad” Weyermann combines real HD video footage with 3D animations. The latter are used to create experiences of space impossibly producible with video recordings such as memories or imaginations. At the same time the video recordings may serve as pictures of “the real”. Their audio track include narrations, sounds and music, which leads to the creation of an independent soundscape. Additionally the installation contains an interview with Armenian Halı Ustası, who was born in 1936.
Maja Weyermann’s video installation interweaves both, observations and researches of the artist. It works like an experimental documentary that contributes with artistic means to the discussion on how to deal with the past.
Letters from Abroad
DEPO-Istanbul (Tütün Deposu, Lüleci Hendek Caddesi No.12, Tophane/İstanbul)
13 June – 16 July 2015
Opening: 12th of June 2015
Supported by the Berlin Senate Cultural Affairs Department
2015 Exhibition Program of DEPO is being realized in cooperation with Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.