Collecting the Uncollectable


Still from the video Swinging on the Stars (2013) by Hale Tenger / Courtesy the artist, Galeri Nev, and Collection of Tüten and Agah Uğur

Arts enthusiasts have always been collecting artworks, but often prefer to hang them on their walls. A new show at SALT Beyoğlu is dedicated to the types of art that are not suitable for this purpose, but meet collector’s approval nevertheless. Some pieces owned by Turkish collectors can be seen at „Every inclusion is an exclusion of other possibilities“.

There has already been said a lot about the oddities of the market for arts. It works as immediate as almost no other one: The demand determines the price that is paid for a piece of art and there are absolutely no limitations towards this mode of action existing. Someone offered around 50 million pound for Damien Hirst’s „For the Love of God“, so this sum became the price he paid.

But also there is plenty of art production not that much sought-after by museums and collectors. Especially types of art which cannot simply be hung at a wall often suffer from a shadowy existance. SALT Beyoğlu in Istanbul pays a tribute to this kind of art with its new exhibition named „Every inclusion is an exclusion of other possibilities“ opened on 9th of June.

Until the 2nd of August SALT displays contemporary art works provided by three of the very rare private collectors in Turkey: Haro Cümbüşyan, Saruhan Dağon and Agah Uğur. Included are works that are socially critical, political and sometimes disturbing. But mainly the collections feature pieces of art that are hard to display, such as video, audio, a book installation, film and slide projections – pieces, one would not necessarily expect to be bought by collectors.


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The superordinate frame of „Every inclusion is an exclusion of other possibilities“ makes the exhibition very manifold. This appears inspiring on the one hand, but makes it fray thematically on the other hand. It is hardly possible to draw a line between Han Nefkens movie „Blue and white“, which is located in Thailand, towards the obligatory breast- and penis-section, to Ed Atkins film „Death Mask III“ in which pictures of landscapes, colors and a dead gecko are alternating.

Maybe animals can be seen as some focus in the exhibition: There is one section displaying photographs of Istanbul’s street dogs and a picture of a hunted zebra. In Francis Alÿs 17-minute movie „The Nightwatch“ an irritated fox is observed while exploring a museum, room by room, undecided where to go.

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Still from the video Swinging on the Stars (2013) by Hale Tenger / Courtesy the artist, Galeri Nev, and Collection of Tüten and Agah Uğur

And, of course, there are the famous three monkeys – not seeing, not hearing, not speaking – used once again by Hale Tenger for her video „Swinging on the Stars“. In this work the blue colored monkeys are sitting in front of an image picturing endless galaxy, swaying to the rhythm of the well-known swing song „Swinging on a Star“. But after the last verse („And all the monkeys aren’t in the zoo/Every day you meet quite a few/So you see it’s all up to you/ You can be better than you are/ You could be swingin’ on a star“) situation is turning: The scenery gets filled with smoke, the monkeys are suddenly wearing gas masks and the cheerful music is replaced by a remonstration song frequently chanted during Gezi protests in Turkey in 2013. The apes start to move, raise their arms in anger and are suddenly reacting to what happens around them. Like this, Tenger attaches a very strong political dimension to her work, that demonstrates once more her important position in current Turkish art scene.

Furthermore „Every inclusion is an exclusion of other possibilities“ contains interesting approaches towards working with video and sound: From Cevdet Erek „A selection from Cetveller ve Ritim Çalışmarları“ is shown, which consists of two illuminated, blank canvasses, amended by two clapping, complementing rhythms. Emre Hüner is represented with a variety of works owned by different collectors, which are for the first time displayed together. Among them is „Panoptikon“, a video in picture book aesthetics, not lacking some entertaining details and reminding of Monty Python’s style.

Another important piece by Oliver Laric is questioning reality in media. In „Versions“ he plays with image hierarchies and the power of pictures. At first sight it seems so harmless to watch Disney’s Mowgli and Winnie-the-Pooh’s friend Christopher Robin moving in exactly the same way towards their harmonic cartoon environment. But when it comes to edited videos of Zinedine Zidane headbutting Marco Materazzi or scenes of rockets being launched, Laric’s message becomes obvious: Everything can be photoshopped today, nothing visual needs to be real, no image deserves blind faith.

With „Every inclusion is an exclusion of other possibilites“ SALT Beyoğlu manages to show important art works from Turkey and all over the world in public, which are privately owned and therefore not generally accessible. But unfortenately the emphasis on the collector’s motivation is slightly neclected in the exhibition. Viewers are just confronted with pieces chosen by the buyers, lacking any explanation of the reasons for their selection. A little more personalisation would have done good this nevertheless worth seeing exhibition.


“Every inclusion is an exclusion of other possibilities” at SALT Beyoğlu, 9th of June – 2nd of August 2015, Tuesday – Saturday 12 a.m. – 8 p.m., Sunday 12 a.m. – 6 p.m.


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Thomas Büsch

Filmmaker, Founding Member and Secretary General of diyalog, promotion of cultural exchange with Turkey. Since 2012 he is also project manager of InEnArt.

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