‘ HOME IS WHERE THE (HE)ART IS ‘
Group show curated by Yann Perreau at Galerie Paris – Beijing
Halil Altindere | Yesim Akdeniz | Volkan Aslan | Mehtap Baydu | Antonio
Cosentino | Gözde Ilkin | Yaşam Şaşmazer | Güneş Terkol | Mehmet Ali Uysal
↓ INTERVIEW BELOW
In the summer 2016, Gallery Paris Beijing invited me to curate the first solo exhibition of Turkish artist Mehmet Ali Uysal in France. The artist invested the space with a body of works, which, he explained, were created and assembled as an attempt to define a new home (“ev” in Turkish) for his oeuvre.
Following this gesture, the gallery will exhibit this winter works by a new generation of artists who live and work partly in Turkey, focusing on their relationship to that notion of “ev”. These artists have been exhibited around the world in the last few years, confirming the Istanbul art scene as one of the most interesting, innovative and dynamic of our time. Some of them have decided to move abroad recently. Others still live there, while most of them have now one foot here, and another one elsewhere. Hence, they have made of the world itself, in its complexity and diversity, their home. This exhibition doesn’t focus on the eternal themes of exile, diaspora or migrations, which can be a bit limitative to define works of art. It doesn’t either reduce itself to “Turkish artists”, preferring to look at artists who live in Istanbul, whatever their nationality (a global city, Istanbul welcomes artists and creators from around the world, who consider it their home).
It starts from a proverb: “Home is where the heart is”? and follows a philosophical and aesthetical – even if political too – approach: in our globalized world, is the traditional apprehension of home relevant anymore? Can home still define one and only one specific location? “Here, isn’t it elsewhere”, questions Gözde Ilkin in her poem Delirium for a poetry of space ? How can travels, displacements and shifting remodel one’s apprehension of home, one’s sense of belonging and – ultimately – one’s aesthetics? Home is sometimes left behind, voluntary or by necessity. Still it can be recreated elsewhere. What do we remember of our previous homes?
Ultimately, isn’t home that strange, mysterious, ephemeral feeling that art can sometimes help to define? Something personal, always changed, always re-imagined, like memory itself, or may be like a romance? This group exhibition looks at how these questions can materialize, take shape in various bodies of works. It will transform the gallery into a transitory, dwelling, utopic space. A “Here and elsewhere”, as Anne-Marie Miéville and Jean-Luc Godard defined it in their eponymous film.
– Yann Perreau
Yann Perreau is a French art critic, author and curator. He lives between Paris, Istanbul and Los Angeles.
So let’s first introduce yourself, because the exhibition is connected with your own relation to Turkey as well
I’m an author, art critic and curator. It’s been now five years I go to Turkey and work with artists there. I exhibited some of them in Los Angeles. It’s also a city I know as I used to have an art gallery there. I first curated a show in Ankara and exhibited Mehmet Ali Uysal. Thanks to this and a personal experience I learned a lot about Turkey.
Can you tell us more about the exhibition « Home is where the he(art) is » that you curated in Paris for the gallery Paris-Beijing ?
The exhibition theme came up with two concepts « ev » and « knut » which are two turkish words. « Ev » is for home while « Konut » could be related to the house, in a functional way . It’s connected to the first exhibition I did in this space which was a solo show of Mehmet Ali Uysal. There was the idea to keep on with this metaphor but this time with a group show.
Also, I felt there was a desire to go beyond stereotypes about what could be « Turkish Art », for example this exhibition is not about political works in an obvious way.
Yes, the point wasn’t to make a direct statement about Turkish artists today. The aim was to show artists with similarities through their practices. Also they all know each other but each of them use different mediums with time to time some crossovers in the themes.
The purpose of this exhibition is about discussion in between artists and the gallery, about the space and ideas. Each of them had the space on mind for the exhibition although some of the work got exhibited previously in Istanbul biennial, Geneva and Cappadocia All of them emerge from various dialogues which connect with the space, the gallery vision and mine. Also, the art gallery went to Istanbul and it’s important.
It’s not a « cliché » exhibition in a way that my vision changed since first time I came to Turkey. It took time to enter into a dimension that is more symbolic and aesthetic, in order to understand how certain things can be shared in a subtle way. There is a link with Time, it’s not about the young generation who wants to destroy everything, Even though it can be interesting as well. For this exhibition, artists are in a maturity time, they have distance with their work. They assume their work can be powerful with only one idea or one material, out of any spectacular or provocative conception. It’s more or less universal messages, it’s not a statement about Turkey. Thus, the exhibition appears as a witness of a special moment but without sharing any specific message as it could be a thing if the exhibition was held in a museum.
How did you chose works to exhibit and organize it according to the thematic you chose ?
All works are from the last years. Each artists is not only living in Istanbul, they also live elsewhere most of the time, which also goes back to the exhibition thematic. It’s not about exil or travel but being home. It can be in the gallery, in the work, in the luggage as it is for Mehtap Baydu’s work, or also an imaginary and utopic home, or a home which moves as it is in Volkan Aslan’s video.
Also the gallery stands as a home opens to the outside, as all rooms appear as open mirrors towards the outside. Somehow, I notice with a bit of distance the dramatic side of some of the work Yaşam Şaşmazer’s works are about this, while Halil Altindere’s work is also a serious topic but with a humorous twist.
Also, it seems important to me to mention that as a first group show of these artists in Paris, there isn’t any heavy statement, all artworks are reachable in a way, none of them translate an abstract concept. This humility is important.
Exactly, none of the artists here wants to impress with such complex artworks where the meaning wouldn’t be easy to get, although there can be an intellectual or philosophical dimension through these works. Gozde Ilkin’s characters don’t have any head for exemple. Güneş Terkol represents anonymous characters. Volkan Aslan’s women on the video are also anonymous. There are no myth or iconic character. Even Halil Altindere’s astronaut, he is famous in Turkey but it’s also one Syrian refugee.
Why do you think this exhibition found a home in this specific art space (Galerie Paris – Beijing) ?
There is a real wish from the gallery to work with turkish artists, starting a real discussion. This exhibition establishes a picture as story beginning. They reach me to do a real curatorial job with a committed position as I have a story with the country and these artists.
Also the gallery is connected to travel, most of the time they exhibit foreign artists. Even though they are specialized in Asia, in between Paris and Beijing, I would say there is Istanbul
Questions by Fiona Vilmer writer specialized in contemporary art.