A Few In Many Places is an exhibition organized by ProtoCinema and held since the 24th of May on the first floor of Kıraathane ; an exhibition whose intention resonates with the purpose of the İstanbul Edebiyat Evi.
Kıraathane is an archaic word composed of qiraat which in Arabic means “reading” and hane which means “place”, “house”, “space”. This word is used in Turkey in the sense of coffee house, where newspapers and magazines could be read while drinking tea or coffee during the times of the Ottoman Empire. It’s also the name of the İstanbul Edebiyat Evi – İstanbul Litterature House – located in Beyoğlu, whose doors are open since October 2018. This venue works as a proper house: a get-together place for artists, writers, and people using their freedom of expression at a time when the latter is challenged ; a place to discuss literature, art and creativity, exchange ideas and promote creation.
a multidimensional exhibition
A Few In Many Places is a « multi-city group exhibition which addresses on-going collapses and cycles of violence, through various forms of collectivity » as can be read on the ProtoZine, the zine that accompanies the exhibition. In other words, ProtoCinema is engaging a simultaneous discussion in 6 different cities : Seoul, Bangkok, Istanbul, New York, Santurce and Guatemala City.
Far from presenting a globalized and asepticized art, all these interventions are careful to offer an interconnected art that’s still acknowledging its regional grip, with local artists for each one of the cities. On the curating aspect, a special attention is given to the use of « a sustainable exhibition-making model of reducing exploitation (of natural resources, labor and knowledge) and consumption (no shipping or flying) ». A Few In Many Places is a multi-level reflexion occuring in 3 different continents and 2 different universes, in both physical and digital realms.
repetition & perception
A few in many places can be understood as a willingness to return to the essential, to the ‘few’, to what is left when one got rid of the superfluous ; a persistent movement towards the atom, the tiniest component of what composes all of us, every substance, all over the world no matter where you find yourself.
It is to such an extent that can be understood the work of Zeynep Kayan, one of the artists whose work is part of the Istanbul exhibition. She uses video and her body as tools to show endless repetitions of small physical movements, « recalling somatic knowledge which our bodies carry and transmit for generations ». This inherited, unconscious, sometimes violent physical knowledge emerges from the repetitions of movements, as the artist is trying to disarm the violence through repetitive cycles.
One of her videos, titled An attempt to read from Thomas Bernhard (2021), represents the artist reciting a sentence from Bernhard’s Walking but as she recites she always interrupts herself before the end, and constantly goes back to the beginning of the sentence ; while in the meantime she carries water from one receptacle placed in front of her to another, and do it all over again.
The repeated sentence says : ‘‘We have to continue what we aimed to start, while we are conscious that nothing is ever certain and nothing ever has integrity. If we keep giving up before we start, we would not get rid of disappointment and we would get lost in the end.’’
In the other room of the exhibition is the installation of ARK, an collaborative work by Kathryn Hamilton and Deniz Tortum. The 4 walls-room is plunged in darkness, there is just a tiny hole in the black paper that covers the only window of the space, allowing a single ray of light to get in. The installation is working as a camera obscura, projecting on the wall in front of the spectator the landscape of the streets outside. As you accustom yourself to darkness, you can discern the bridge of Haliç, the Bosphorus.
This makes us enter into a reproduced world, a visual construction of reality ; entering into a discussion on perceptual knowledge. Hamilton and Tortum evoke the year 1970, when an object was scanned for the first time in an American laboratory, « transferred from the physical world into the digital one ».
In an epoch when virtual reality is getting more and more common, when computing technologies are trying to create a reality more real than reality itself, we can think of these simulations as a way to slip away from the outside world when this latter is collapsing. Some organic elements are introduced into the installation, such as an orange tree, to highlight how reality and time still have a grip on real and material objects in the “real simulation”.
The responsive aspect of the project led by ProtoCinema is central in the exhibition : the venue perfectly resonates with the artworks, the curating is in full coherence with the intention of the exhibition… All these factors make the visiting of the exhibition extremly fluid and the insertion into the dimensions created by the artists even more accessible.
A Few in Many Places, Istanbul edition, curated by Mari Spirito and Alper Turan, is going on until the 21st of June in Kıraathane İstanbul Edebiyat Evi, Yemenici Abdüllatif Sk., 1. Beyoğlu.