Contemporary art makes another appearance in Ankara. A new exhibition activity meets the audience in a dynamic and energetic platform. With Funda Oruç and Uğur Karagül as curators, Tornavideo exhibition will meet the audience in Tamirhane Bar, a meeting point of the youth.
When we take a look at the recent contemporary art history of Ankara down the time tunnel, we see that; the 1st “International Asia-Europe Art Biennial” in 1986 was motivating for Ankara art community. This biennial chain continued in 1998- 90- 92 years. By the end of 1980s, a student from Hacettepe University called Salim Özgilik, with the moniker “Moni”, exhibited some installations and performances challenging the established order of art environment. Founded as a branch of the first foundation university established in Turkey in 1984, Bilkent University, Fine Arts, Design and Architecture Faculty became the focal point of innovative artists. And a group of students from Fine Arts, Design and Architecture Faculty at Bilkent University formed “Grup Grip-in”. Grup Grip-in held the “Popular Myths and Graphic Image Circulation” titled exhibition in Ankara Anfa Altınpark Exhibition Center in 1992. In 1993, “Hangar Artistic Organization” was founded by Cebrail Ötgün, Atilla İlkyaz, Cezmi Orhan, İbrahim Çiftçioğlu, Murat Çelik, Hülya Çelik and Sevinç Akaya. After making some important activities contributing to the contemporary art setting of Ankara, the organization split. The interesting “Gar Exhibition” held in Ankara Station in 1995 was shut in a single day. The installation of Selim Birsel, “Lead Sleep” is still engraved in our memories. “Youth Art Activity” has been organized four times, the first being in 1998. The most striking of these were “Youth Art-3” exhibition organized in Ankara Contemporary Arts Center in 2000 with Vasıf Kortun as the curator. This exhibition was really decisive in terms of historical process. If we examine this exhibition properly, we can clearly see that the artists in this exhibition today direct contemporary art movement in Turkey.
After that, the art practices in Ankara have frayed around the edges and seem to have run dry for so long. 2 young curators are making a stagnation-breaking contribution with the “Tornavideo” exhibition devoting all their dynamism into the work. “Tornavideo” exhibition activity contains the works of 7 contemporary artists: Ozan Adam, Hakan Akçura, Nezaket Ekici, Şinasi Güneş, Ferhat Özgür, Gözel Radyo and Maria Sezer.
The first Tornevideo exhibition artist is Ozan Adam, known for his experimental video and film works. The story of the artist’s film “The Two Names of A Testimony About The Execution of A Happening And A Suitcase Full of Broken Records” is mounted on some sequences from various stories in a sleeping man’s dreams. In another film of him, “Zymotic-Amaurosis: Contagious Arbitrary Blindness” he builds on how reality and subconscious are mixed up in a surreal way as a consequence of experiments performed on a blind man’s memory and dreams. The theme of these two films of the artist refers to psycho-social processes. And his film to be presented within the scope of Tornavideo exhibition is an animation. The music of this 1-minute animation called “Little Birdie” is written by Ozan Akıncı. This animation is about the transformation of lines into shapes, then objects and figures by changing shape, and finally a spatial journey. This process takes place with a simple triangle turning into a pyramid object which is 3d form, then a cornered object after changing its shape, following it a human hand derived from this, and a woman figure with the re-forming of the hand, and finally transformation of this woman figure into a little bird flying in the tunnel of infinity. The artist finishes this animation, that begins with lines and turns into a bird figure and spreads into eternity, i.e. evolutionary process of forms with the idea of eternity ironically.
Another artist taking part in Tornavideo and describing himself as open flux artist is Hakan Akçura who lives in Sweden. The artist exhibited every document with the attribute of “mirror” requested from the persons on the internet according to their date of arrival in the “I Want My Mirrors” project leaving its mark on the minds of men. It should be noted that; Akçura also has some harsh and striking political works. One of them is the extraordinary video work he shot in Sweden with an individual named Abdulkadir Aygan, who once had connection with a terrorist organization and then escaped and settled in Sweden. Akçura preferred to spread this video known as “It Is Enough That The Truth Comes Out”. The “Open Letter to Swedish Migration Board” titled video of the artist turns the residence permit extension decision waiting process of the artist in Sweden in 2006 into a video performance, and he describes this work as “for the sake of accelerating this process for myself and to support all waiting immigrants as far as possible…”. The video of the artist to be presented in Tornavideo exhibition is again a video making reference to immigration and being an immigrant. His video “Catharsis” contains improvised actions of a group of immigrant youth in Stockholm. We can see the traces of being an immigrant in a foreign country, cultural entrapment, sense of belonging or shortly being stuck in between from the dictions, the musical tastes, dressing styles, dances and technological equipments of the youth.
Another artist in Tornavideo is Nezaket Ekici, a performing artist living in Germany. Taking every social fact as a subject, women’s problems being in the first place, the artist begins with expressing artistic actions with her body and turns them into a performance. Having also installation and video works, one of the artist’s projects “Self Diversity” is composed of performance and installations and questions gender, race and identity concepts. The performance-video with the title “Wardrobe” will be exhibited in “Tornavideo”. The artist stands before a two-door wardrobe half-naked and takes some clothes and puts them down. After this, the artist stars wearing the clothes continuously one after the other. As the clothes are put on successively, they start creating a physical pressure on the artist. However, the artist is insistent on wearing them. The artist’s insistence on wearing in her intellectual dimension clashes with the resulting physical pressure. This clash ends with the artist getting help from the individuals around. Emphasizing the naturalness of mankind at the beginning of the performance with “being naked”, the artist becomes distanced to this naturalness as she wears the clothes one after the other, and becomes alienated to herself first, and then the surrounding environment.
With his installations, works on canvas theoretically built on hermeneutics and constantly deconstructed, video art works where he interprets the visual sometimes with an ironical seriousness, and sometimes with a mise en scene language and his art aesthetics captured in the ordinary in all his works, one of the important projects of the contemporary artist Şinasi Güneş is “Obsession”. Seeing the light of day in 2005, this project helped to create a memory record in terms of audio art videos. The close ties of the artist with mail art have been actualized in his mail art projects on “Watch”, “Fundamentalism”, “Global Warming”, “Woman and Ecology”, “Gypsies”. Güneş also prepares street-art promoting publishes and fills a gap in this sense. He offers an alternative course to contemporary art practices with an e-zine named “e-benzin” published on electronic environment. Some of his videos area “Horned Toad”, “Anatolia”, “Batumi”, “After the Sheep”, “New York and Chewing Gum”. His video “New York and Chewing Gum” is built on the traces of many chewing gums deliberately or unconsciously thrown by people of New York to Brooklyn Subway floor. Having turned this performance into a book with the same title, the artist has completed the deconstruction process. The artist is featured in Tornavideo with the “My Lovely Hats” titled video constructed again with an ironical and cynical mise en scene. The artist puts on several objects over his head like hats. There are art books, flower pots, bags, buckets, boilers etc. among these objects. Each hat refers to a social role and points to a character fact. The artist strengthens the sense of rhythm with a background rap song. We see ironic allusions in this video.
Ferhat Özgür, a contemporary artist living in Ankara, underlined and expressed urban progress of Ankara, rational and irrational results of modernism, city-individual and change facts in his “City Journal” titled exhibition composed of his photograph and video pieces of work. We witness the points underlined by the artist in the negative effects of recent urban transformation programs that eventually lead to “destruction” in metropolises particularly in Istanbul. A series of performative photo works of Özgür in historical places with the title “Jump", and also the “Jump” titled video of him creates some mise en scene situations with the artist trying to touch the peak points by jumping. The artist added city-individual dualism building and history and expended the interpretation perspective. Getting involved in “Tornavideo” with his video titled “Upper Garden”, Ferhat Özgür appears with a different theme. In this video, he shows the military greeting ritual process in sequences with the preparation to ceremony until the end of ceremony. The artist begins with showing ritual elements like cannon ball, helmet, shoulder mark one after the other, and following this, we see some sequences from the march of soldiers and greeting ritual, then the greeting ritual ends.
An interesting artist in “Tornavideo” is Gözel Radio, who first of all brings together cues with music and as a pioneer blends electronic music with arabesque and oriental tunes. Some of the released music albums are “No-Exotic”, “Sound of the World: Turkey” and their fanzine is entitled “Güzel Mecmuası”. The artist creates versatile alternative works. The video which will be shown in “Tornavideo” is “İsyanbul 2010”. The artist acts in his own way over some scenes and dialogues from old Turkish films and achieves a comic effect. At this point, there are some experimental verbal rhythms streaming and they accompany the images in the background. The artist begins the message bombardment with smart cards and continues with microchips and ends with GMO. The artist associates these elements with Istanbul 2010 project as the name suggests. The artist makes use of ad techniques in the presentation of the messages placed within the video flow in critical moments. Therefore, the influence area of the video is extended.
Another artist in “Tornavideo” is Maria Sezer who states “Opposing the nature and trying to dominate the nature does not always bring happiness to people” and uses nature and time as a reference in her artistic works. Time and change are states where the artist makes the ironic and complicated association of these two concepts an object of inquiry in her works or naturally exhibits it. In one of Sezer’s installation works taking Rapunzel story as the center, the artist nearly creates an image of ladder with black, long and bush-formed yarns just like Rapunzel’s hair. Having assembled beauty and nature concepts with the sense of protection in this work, the artist designs original raku plates by using the special firing technique known as raku in another exhibition. Being a notable expert of transforming natural materials, the artist will appear in “Tornavideo” with her video titled “Swarm” created with similar operations. The video begins with the display of a colony of bees flying in the air, and then the movements of bees in and out of their hives are shown like a ceremony to the audience. Each entry to the hive means that a brood waiting at a cell gets fed and remains alive. Each swarm becoming a grown bee moves out of the cell to make honey.
I think the most striking element in Tornavideo exhibition activity including Funda Oruç and Uğur Karagül as curators is that; most of the internationally active artists in the exhibition consist of the rare independent artists in Turkey.
I hope this exhibition will precipitate art project initiatives and serve as a factor in emergence of new breath in the contemporary art scene.
Sosyologist- Art Writer