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Thomas Geiger – Art in Public Spaces in Istanbul

Thomas Geiger studied Fine Arts in Karlsruhe and Interdisciplinary Art in Tallinn, Estonia and is now settled in Vienna as a performance, sculpture and language artist with a focus on public space.

He is currently in Istanbul for a 3-month stay as part of the International Residency Program of the Austrian Cultural Ministry accompanied by the Austrian Cultural Forum Istanbul and Diyalog.

Co-financed by the Goethe-Institut, he was invited to the “Arter” Museum, one of the most renowned art houses in Istanbul, to present his performance “The Pigeon“, adapted to Turkish public space.

However, under the current conditions, triggered by the terrible earthquake in southern Turkey, Kurdistan and northern Syria, the performance has been cancelled until further notice.

Geiger plans to realise the performance in another house or place in a respectful way towards the earthquake.

In his performance “Le Pigeon” (The Pigeon), first realised in Paris, Thomas Geiger shifts the perspective of the recipient and focuses on the omnipresent pigeon in public space. In doing so, he gives a voice to the expert for this space, as Geiger calls the pigeon, in order to draw attention to its living space, which is threatened by privatisation.

In the continuing version in Istanbul the pigeon is to remain the protagonist as a recurring character, sharply criticising and questioning the advancing privatisation, which is often only distinguished from private space by only fences or walls.

In this way, he places objects of everyday life and daily perception in a slightly shifted context and encourages the recipient to rethink the prevailing structures.

In his new project “Istanbul Simit Exchange”, Thomas Geiger plans to buy a vendor’s daily supply of simits and offer them to pedestrians for free. In return, he invites them to draw their own simit on a sheet of paper as a value compensation. As is well known, the steadily decreasing purchasing power of the Turkish lira can be illustrated by the price of simits and underlines the ever-shrinking, affluent middle class and ever-increasing poverty in Turkey. The basic idea of the project is to take up and critically question the issue of value representation and the payment for creative work. So you don’t pay for your simit with money, but with a small, creative, self-produced piece of work. These creative imitations of the simits will then be sold in Vienna as components of his project “I want to become a millionaire”, which has been running since 2010.

The performance was canceled because of the earthquake that took place Feb 6 in Turkey and Syria. Instead the artist will prepare a video of the performance which will be screened later on. Watch out for further notification.

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