Thomas BüschRampa Istanbul presents the first posthumous gallery show of Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin on September 2 on the occasion of the 14th Istanbul Biennial. The exhibition brings together over 45 works produced during the two decades on either side of the new millennium, including a selection of studies, drawings and notes from the Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin archive.
In 2007, he represented Turkey in the 52nd Venice Biennial with his installation Don’t Complain.
Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin in Venice 2007, one of his last interviews about his work before he died on December 31, 2007
The exhibition at Rampa Istanbul will also consider his collaborative initiatives with other artists, such as the Bunker Research Group (BRG) or the Sea Elephant Travel Agency, which aspired to organize a “floating laboratory” for artists and thinkers to circumnavigate the Black Sea, developing critical discussions and artistic exchange while tracing the route taken by the protagonist in Jules Verne’s novel Kéraban the Inflexible (1883).
“Democratic Luxury” is set to run until Nov. 14 at Rampa Istanbul.
Thomas BüschSince beginning of June this year fighting between pro-Russian rebels and government forces escalated again in Ukraine. A cease-fire did not exist in reality. Last weeks fightings are the heaviest since the ceasefire signed in February. Against the background of this new Cold War atmosphere the Russian artist group Chto Delat („What is to be done?“) had a past show in spring in Berlin at KOW Berlin titled Time Capsule expressing the hopelessness of this kind of conflicts in a world order that ignores the demands and needs of its population.
World is changing and artists are seeking for new approaches to cope with the modern challenges. While French artist and architect Leopold Lambert is turning our cartographic habits up-side-down and focusses on governmental structures inspired by ancient Greek polis-systems, the Russian collective Chto Delat is asking in their Berlin exhibition what could art be at a moment when familiar politics and everyday life start falling apart?
What seemed the stuff of nightmares yesterday is reality today, and artists who want to address present conditions have wound up in a very complicated position.
For Chto Delat, which is built around members as Tsaplya Olga Egorova, Nikolay Oleynikov and Dmitry Vilensky, current life circumstances result in the following question: how can we carry on creating, speaking and living when we are all frozen at our computer screens in hopeless anxiety, trying to make sense of the bloody mixture of contradictory and manipulated information, seething hatreds, madness and desperation while the chance to be heard is ever more limited?
An important peculiarity of the events taking place today in Russia and Ukraine is that they are positioned primarily in relation to the past: the unresolved trauma of the clash between Nazism and Stalinism and the crude manipulation of these ideologies that’s now going on. All this provokes the sensation that the demons of the past have returned to strangle us with their tentacles of blood.
They complain of „a new Cold War atmosphere“ arising, massive repressions happening towards oppositionals in their country and a military operation going on in Ukraine taking its tall with thousands of deads on both sides. Chto Delat does not supply answers to all the rising questions but admits the belief that someone in the future will be able to encounter the contents.
Existing since 2003 and based in St. Petersburg, the former works of Chto Delat often spoke of hope and revolutionary optimism. They developed combinations of Brechtian songspiels, participatory theater, public actions and propaganda cheering for an utopian communist alternative to the current political and economical agenda. Capitalism already led to the catastrophe, they state, but world is not willing to face this fact yet: „Until there is no hope, true revolutionary action is postponed“, says Oxana Timofeeva.
And this means we can connect ourselves to the future. Our time capsule has the shape of a heart connected to an ear. Each of us laid one special thing, something dear to him or her, in an empty space inside the heart. Then we sent this “heart-ear capsule” into the future. Because we believe the future will happen. Let’s make sense together out of this simple fact, they concluded in their recent exhibition at KOW Berlin.
At KOW they constructed a labyrinth of blown-up newspapers reporting on the war in Syria, Ebola, military convoys and ISIS. The installation’s centre contained a video, showing activist friends discussing the events until, in mid-speech, their voices lose all meanings. They crack up, stand up, become bodies and come together – as a communitiy of people, who are awake and perplexed, afraid and alter, who need each other.
The resignation of Chto Delat became figurative once more by a violent act aiming to destroy one of their pieces of art: A six metre high paper board soldier carrying a shield of the antifascistic action was set on fire by unknown people in Berlin and lateron partly rebuilt by Chto Delat. As a resurrected (zombie) soldier the sculpture returned, provided with inner monologues on the mutilation of a self, his body, perception and ideals.
Johanna FröhlichThe first group exhibition of gallery Rampa in Istanbul this secret world that exists right there in public brings together the works of Etel Adnan, Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin, Francis Alÿs, Otto Berchem, Attila Csörgő, Ergin Çavuşoğlu, Cengiz Çekil, Nilbar Güreş, Berat Işık, Çağdaş Kahriman, Yasemin Özcan, Funda Özgünaydın, İz Öztat & Zişan, Kiki Smith, and Ali Taptık until July 12th.
Bringing together works that twist, open up or change perceptions, the exhibition aims to create a space where the secret world that exists right there in public appears as a possibility. The exhibition hails the social movements that will surely leave a mark on the 10’s of this century by taking a fresh look at history, geography, architecture, and nature.
Co-curated by Lara Fresko and Esra Sarıgedik Öktem, the exhibition takes its inception and title from a scene in Noah Baumbach’s 2012 film Frances Ha, in which Frances, talking to strangers in semi drunken fervor, points out a fleeting moment when the transformative potential of love as well as the miracle of unmediated communication is rendered possible and visible. Focusing on the potentials of interpersonal relations and social movements to envision alternative worlds, the exhibition brings together works from different histories and geographies.
Frances Ha – Official Theatrical Trailer
The exhibition successfully depicts three central works that explore the many facets of travel, crossing borders, creating channels of communication, instituting solidarity, storytelling and imagining utopian and dystopian alternatives through a cartographic approach.
Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin, Image from SALT Research Hüseyin-Alptekin-Archive, Courtesy of the Estate of Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin and Rampa Istanbul
We want to put a special emphasis on the work by Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin The Black Sea Map / Kéraban Lé Têtu (1999). The installation constists of a black sea map expanded originally by a reprint of a postcard showing a story teller in the black sea region and a deck of cards. This installtion became already 1999 an inspiration for further works by various artists.
The work by Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin follows Jules Verne’s stubborn tobacco merchant in a journey all the way around the Black Sea in order to get to Istanbul’s Asian coast without crossing the Bosphorus. A remnant of what became the Sea Elephant Travel Agency focussing on networks of communication among the contemporary art scene of Turkey with its northern neighbors and what is not only a vision of alternative routes but also a cultural project of solidarity formation.
Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin, Image from SALT Research Hüseyin-Alptekin-Archive, Courtesy of the Estate of Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin and Rampa Istanbul
At gallery Rampa, Istanbul until July 12th
Thomas BüschA Library That Music Runs Through
Murat Opus reinterprets Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin Collection at SALT Galata
SALT continues to invite others to reinterpret the Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin Collection, which consists of the artist’s archive and books, located at SALT Galata. The new presentation is undertaken by the musician Murat Opus who worked with Alptekin for a period.
A harmonica from Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin Archive
With Three Books, Three Partitions, Three Sounds: A Library That Music Runs Through, Murat Opus engages in a dialogue with the three books from the Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin Library: Punk – Break All Rules: Punk Rock and the Making of a Style – , Schoenberg Remembered: Diaries and Recollections, 1938-76 and Tropical Truth: A Story of Music and Revolution in Brazil. He aims to touch upon three periods of the last century, as well as the music books in the Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin Collection, via the language of sound and music.
Partition Gyorgy Ligeti – Murat Opus
While he reconstructs Alptekin’s relation with music, its influence on his projects and day-to-day life; Opus also aims to decipher the new paths that Alptekin’s oeuvre offers for music and the musician. He articulates Alptekin’s deep interest in the world of sound, its close relationship with other disciplines and its effect on the formation of cultural history.
Tom Ze: Quero Sambar Meu Bem
In the context of the project, Opus presents the great transformation of Brazilian music in the post-1960 era and the youth movement reshaped by Tropicalism; the adventure of contemporary musical architecture, initiated by Schoenberg after 1908, that centers around the idea that this music demolished and recreated itself; and finally the irresistible rebellion of Punk subculture that peaked in the second half of the last century. With works by Tom Ze, Gyorgy Ligeti and Lou Reed.
Anja ProssHüseyin Bahri Alptekin’s solo exhibition at SESC Pompeia, Brazil, presents a selection of 12 key works spanning the artist’s career from the early 1990s until his death in 2007.
photo from Camila Rocha
A central figure in Turkish contemporary art, Alptekin was a prolific artist, writer, curator and educator whose career was marked by his extensive work-related travels and by his influential collaborations with a number of artists and thinkers from Turkey and abroad. Including photographs, videos, collages, installations and objects, this is the most comprehensive display of Alptekin’s work in São Paulo to date – his works were previously shown at the 24th São Paulo Biennial (1998) and at the Istambul Agora Festival in 2011.
The exhibition was curated by Camila Rocha and Kiki Mazzucchelli.
SESC POMPEIA, Brazil – APRIL – MAY 2013
Text by Kiki Mazzukelli [...]Read more...
Since the most comprehensive exhibition to date of Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin I am Not a Studio Artist objects and documents from the artist’s collection have been presented at SALT Galata.
Opening at SALT Galata on March 26, 2013 the artist Luchezar Boyadjiev, a colleague of Alptekin’s who shared many experiences and exhibition collaborations with him, composed a selection of this objects and documents.
Boyadjiev’s selection creates a narrative through Alptekin’s objects and ephemera collected mostly from the Black Sea region. Boyadjiev engages in a dialogue with these materials to suggest the reasons why Alptekin chose and collected them; he also detects traces of his own professional past, thanks to the projects the two artists worked on together. There are also some objects that Boyadjiev includes in his selection purely for their design or aura.
This text was first published at SALT online [...]Read more...
Thomas BüschMelancholia in Arkadia
Hüseyin Alptekin, Melancholia in Arkadia at Biennial in Bosnia and Herzegovina – May 2011, Courtesy of the Estate of Huseyin Bahri Alptekin and Rampa Istanbul
The first Biennial in Konjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2011 featured works by 44 international artists and artistic groups which were be presented in the space of the nuclear bunker in Konjic, (Atomska ratna komanda – ARK). This was the first artistic project ever to be organized in this space and the first artistic prroject organized in any of the military facilities built in the time of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The exhibition was a unique opportunity for the invited artists to intervene in a space with such a historic and symbolic weight, and to create mostly new works in relation to the space, its story and its contemporary symbolical resonance.
Artists invited to participate in the project were primarily be those whose work is concerned with different aspects of “artistic research” and other “non-disciplinary” modes of production of inter-subjectivity in the field of experience which is increasingly getting emptied of forms of communication in a “common language”. The exhibition of contemporary art set at this location was represent also a significant step in re-connecting art scenes in a politically and economically ravaged part of Europe. Invited artists were mostly be from the immediate region but as well other international artists whose work can be of a significant contribution to the understanding of all the above issues as well as presenting their new and intriguing consequences.
Today the bunker in Konjic is gradually becoming a time machine that inspires us to travel as much into the past as into the future. This journey was initiated and mediated by innovative practices of contemporary art, in the form of some inquiries into implications and consequences this unique place, and its historical tale.
On display was Melancholia in Arkadia beside other works by Hüseyin Alptekin.
1st TIME MACHINE Biennial of Contemporary Art
D-0 ARK Underground, Konjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Exhibition “NO NETWORK” May 27 – September 27 2011,
Curated by Branislav Dimitrijević and Petar Ćuković
Project D-0 Ark Underground 2013 [...]Read more...
Thomas BüschInstallation view from I am not a Studio Artist – Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin, SALT Beyoğlu, Istanbul 2011
The most comprehensive exhibition of Hüseyın Alptekin’s work to date, I am not a Studıo Artist included nearly fifty works incollage, neon, video, photography, sculpture and installation. Some had been lost for years, but were carefully reconstituted from material found in what the exhibition’s curator, Vasif Kortun, calls “the organized chaos” of Alptekin’s archive, or recreated according to the artist’s notes.
Among the displayed works at SALT were Ah Odessa and Guardians of the Threshold produced or presented first in the name of the Sea Elephant Travel Agency.- [...]Read more...
Thomas BüschSea Elephant Travel Agency, Istanbul presents within the frame of the Parallel Events of the 8th Istanbul Biennial (20-27 September 2003):
B-fact (Black Sea, Baltic Sea, Barents Sea)
Huseyin Alptekin and the Sea Elephant Travel Agency organized “B-Fact”, an off-beat, open-ended, and provocative event that unfolded over several hours. In this collaborative exhibition, he worked with Halil Altindere and Vahit Tuna in Istanbul, Minna Henricksson from Helsinki and Love Enqvist from Sweden.
Photos from Love Enqvist – www.loveenqvist.se
Narratives of Travels
Several works in “B-fact” addressed slow travel and ordinary people. These artists embraced a counter-discourse to the grand narratives of travels that seek out ruins of the past and to the government- and war-oriented focus of contemporary media. In their acceptance of the mundane and the local, they also countered the pretensions of the international biennial format. Timo Vartianen, Finnish artist and mushroom picker (a reference to his roots in the Karelian area of Finland), presented a collage of sound, writing, photographs, and clothes in Walking and Hitchhiking. He has covered amazing distances: 8,000 kilometers through Russia, the Baltic countries, Poland, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. His journal is a travelogue with entries like “Nights,” “Fear,” “Pleasure,” and “Wild Animals.” Swedish artists Love Enqvist and Martin Berling documented their Stockholm-Istanbul: A Paddle Trip Through the Baltic Sea, Danube and the Black Sea with the canoe, the paddle, and photographs. The artists performed a three-month act of endurance as they embraced the physical experience and constructed an alternative to political geography. Underscoring the fact that gender differences still matter on the road, Kristina Junzell and Jessica Jalmo of Sweden traveled by the less macho means of train through Stockholm, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Macedonia, and Greece to Turkey for their Stockholm-Istanbul: A road movie through “The New Europe.” As an alternative to the catastrophes of daily news information, they spoke with ordinary people about their dreams for the future, what makes them happy, and what is important to them.
The Istanbul “B-Fact” (other versions appear in other places) included two other segments in different venues. Near Taksim Square, the heart of contemporary Istanbul and the elegant Marmara Hotel, a street-level foyer was the site of Bathers (2001–03), a video by Elina Brotherus. On three large facing screens nude Finnish bathers slipped in and out of a cool Northern lake, dispassionately entering and exiting the vision of the stationary camera. Brotherus’s piece is about the ordinary event, and familiar art subject, of bathing, but here the watcher does not control the models as in paintings like those by Rembrandt and Cézanne.
Blue Noses Group
The top floor of the Marmara Hotel hosted a performance by the Blue Noses Group. Ten floors below in Taksim Square, Siberian artists Alexander Shaburov and Slava Mizin began exploding firecrackers out of their pants. As part of their ongoing 25 Short Performances About Globalization, they had managed to get by hotel security with the firecrackers taped to their legs. The result was a hilariously funny spoof of militarism, terrorism, and suicide bombers, ironically timed just two months before the real thing happened only a few blocks away. The Blue Noses Group’s videos in the gallery display almost took over the show. In Two Against the Russian Mafia, which has five episodes including Attack of the Clones and Show Girls, they used a combination of cutouts and video with slapstick humor to appropriate a Russian militia TV series. The heroes (the artists) take on the absurdity of the social sphere, from pop culture to globalism.
Written by Susan Platt published May 2004 in Sculpture [...]Read more...
Anja ProssOn the occasion of the Istanbul Biennial 2001 the Sea Elephant Travel Agency presented the exhibition “Loft Story” on September 22nd in Istanbul.
Participating artists were: Hüseyin Alptekin, Serkan Ozkaya, Can Altay, Natasa Ilic, Erden Kosova, Zeigam Azizov, Emre Erkal, Mihai Craciun, Nicolas Petrovitch Njegosh, Edi Muka, Ricky Ford, Yuan Shun, Vahit Tuna, Tugce U. Tuna and Halil Altindere. [...]Read more...
Thomas BüschInternational Forum 2000, Sochi, Russia
Hüseyin traveled with his friends Ahmet Senkart and Yildirim Arici to Sochi in 2000 to present the Sea Elephant Travel Agency to a group of interested people.
In a video directed by Yildirim Arici Hüseyin explains the Travel Agency. He takes us to the beach and describes his art works he did within the frame of the Sea Elephant Travel Agency.
excerpt of a video by Yildirim Arici
Guardians of the Threshold
Notes by Hüseyin Alptekin, on Guardians of the Threshold, (Odessa – Istanbul) 1999: Image on the right (Storyteller) is appropriated from a found postcard: Serie 778. Orientalisches Volksleben. No.4. Der Märchen-Erzähler – The story-teller. This orientalist image is a postcard from the beginning of the century. The storyteller is the symbol of power in nomadic cultures. For them, the story is the reality and the representation of the world. For that reason the storyteller is power in oral tradition, he is standing, the rest of the people, nomads are all seated.- Image on the left (Cossacks) is appropriated from a cigarette package cover from Ukraine: The brand name Zaporozhtsky and the image of the cigarette package cover is appropriated from a painting by Ilya Repin, titled Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire, 1880-91 . Zaporozhtsky means “over the threshold,” and is a region where these nomads live. They are called Zaporozhtsky Cossacks. The image in the collage has been reappropriated by myself. Originally, it was appropriated from Ilya Repin’s painting entitled Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire, 1880- 91. The tobacco company took the cental composition of the painting (the section with the Cossacks or nomads), which shows nomadic people, riding horses and moving. They are in a state of rebellion and ride for independence; they are even willing to write a letter to the Sultan, even though they don’t know how to read write. Only one person, the one sitting in the center of the table and in the center of the painting knows how to write. He claims the power. Almost all the Cossacks are standing or leaning over the table in a state of conflict and hesitation. This is a moment of passage or a threshold that shows the shift from oral tradition to the law of the scriptum.
Image and text from SALT Research Hüseyin-Alptekin-Archive, Courtesy of the Estate of Huseyin Bahri Alptekin and Rampa Istanbul
Odessa is calling off season… [...]Read more...
Images from SALT Research Hüseyin-Alptekin-Archive, Courtesy of the Estate of Huseyin Bahri Alptekin and Rampa Istanbul
In Melancholia in Arkadia, a series of photos show the interior of a sanatorium in Odessa: a simply furnished room with a television broadcasting scenes from a film, a spinning fan, curtains blowing in the wind, wedding costumes on display. Focus, angle and time changes slightly and seems to create an effect of knowing what is at play and yet at the same time not realizing what it is – balancing on different layers of possible contents.
Lene Crone Jensen
Photos taking during a trip to Odessa [...]Read more...
Anja Pross“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
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.
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 [...]Read more...