Black Sea Traces

Ah Odessa

“Odessa is calling off season… no snow, no cold, no wind; winter remaind somewhere on the Black Sea.

But where is the Black Sea? supposingly below the plateau. Shopping first: lovelace, desease, contamination, pollution and romance; beauty, seduction, flirting and crime… Melancholy shading sublime girls of Odessa, nothing today over Philarmonia, but ketamin and opium kompot contemplating in gypsy Palermo, for the far art, far out.

Comrades, guardians of the threshold, in the rusted Volga, back to the Brejnev Baroque: haunting, Hotel Centralnaya, vodka, saltd fish, beer, salted fish, vodka.

There is no black mud, no therapy today. Warm champagne accompanied with oxidated mussels in abandoned Arkadia, day-dreaming on the beach, last summer, next summer, who cares…”
Poem lines taken from Ah Odessa by Hüseyin Alptekin


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Odessa with Ahmet Senkart, Kagan Gürsel, Vildan and Hüseyin, photos by Sitki Kösemen

Today people from the Black Sea region and the Balkans are in constant motion: they move along polarities and sensitive nodes across too many borders in search of meaningful lives. They buy, sell, trade, smuggle, marry and however construct their own routes for distributed lives. Thus, the map of the Black Sea is in constant flux by small and big movements, individual and community decisions by the people; where one by one every man and woman takes their destiny in their hands and keeps on moving, until ‘heimat’ becomes where they are.

Current economic and global theories cannot explain these movements, yet it is evident that some unrecognized social forces are at work. What these movements signal is the necessity of a re-thinking of the geographical construction of the Black Sea. Following the spirit of Kéraban, a re-routing is imagined: one that refuses the established boundaries set by political fault lines and representation in the media.


Ah Odessa

Oh Odessa, photo from SALT Research Hüseyin-Alptekin-Archive, Courtesy of the Estate of Huseyin Bahri Alptekin and Rampa Istanbul

An overcrowded beach in Odessa is on display in an enigmatic b/w photo. Rather then pure pleasure, the expectations of jouissance in this place seem to accumulate, approaching the limits of joyfulness and almost inverting into the unpleasant. The relief in Hüseyin Alptekin’s appropriation of the photo, that is part of his work ‘Ah Odessa’, seems to be a ‘prozac’ green coloured swim ring, that oddly comforting shows a way out, like a life saver.
Lene Crone Jensen

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