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Aslıhan Demirtaş: Modern Essays 5. Grafts

Exhibition at SALT Galata ( 25.05.-26.08.2012). Very recommendable, fine concepted show about the relationship between structural governmental power and the exploitation of nature.

The creation of huge dams became a symbol for power and modernity all over the world in the past 110 years.The first wall for the Assuan Dam in Egypt was completed 1902, in the 193oth the US built the giant Hoover Dam in Nevada and Arizona.

In the 1930s newspapers in Ankara often published articles and photographs celebrating Ankara’s “seas” and “shores” as “modern recreational spaces of the new capital.” Ankara, at the time, an arid, drought-ridden steppe, was grafted with these “shores” and “seas” which were, in fact, modern hydraulic infrastructures, part of the modernization project of the Turkish Republic: the reservoirs of the Atatürk Model Farm built for irrigation, the Çubuk Dam (“Bosporus of Ankara”) built for potable water supply. Süleyman Demirel, former Prime minister and President, became the “Daddy of the Dams”, due to his role in the development of the Southanatolian Project (GAP).

Grafting of an Amasya Apple-tree.

These modern projects of a “modern” geography are cultivars, propagated by grafting an Ottoman scion onto an Anatolian root underlines Curator Aslıhan Demirtaş: İstanbul’s waterfront geography was imposed onto Ankara’s barren land. Huge Farms with apple trees, grapes and other fruits were developing.

Despite being modern and with ties to the past ideologically severed, these new landscapes nevertheless regenerated the urban practices of the old capital in the new one. The singular Directorate of Public Works of the 1930s, which propagated the cultivars of Ankara, proliferated into a complex machine of multiple ministries and government organizations to develop regional development plans through the 1950s. As a result, the cultivar of Ankara was re-grafted all over the country. Multiplied in a massive scale on the riverbeds of Anatolia and Eastern Thrace, the cultivars, consequently, transformed and mutated into a wild species of aggressive and invasive nature.

Curator Aslıhan Demirtaş was awarded by the Graham Foundation for this project:


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