came on the heels of the so-called coalition forces' invasion
of Iraq. The war prompted me to seek a different exhibition
altogether; I was already extremely worried with the swift
unrolling of the new USA masterplan following 9-11. It seemed
that 9-11 was just an excuse to enforce part of a new world
plan with the arms (usa), drugs (afghanistan) and oil (iraq)
The United States, a country
where I had spent many happy years, became uncanny. It
was no longer a place I could recognize or want to visit
again. I suspect the same would hold true for many people
living in the USA or elsewhere. I am not the kind of person
to give fast response to political situations, and I continue
to live in a country that along with Israel is considered
'high on the list' in terms of the disregard of UN resolutions.
I have never relied on contemporary art as a tool for directly
communicating political issues. Whatever can be reduced
to language is often articulated more effectively and quickly
through different media. Hence, Undesire as an exhibition
is not about representation. It is not even political.
I would rather pivot on a notion of proximity, that the
exhibition feels close to your skin, closer than one would
have liked, but it does not ask for empathy.
Fikret Atay lives close to the
Iraqi Turkish border in a small city by the Tigris called
Batman. Batman is a sad, oil-producing town with a phenomenally
high suicide rate amongst women. The city has suffered
under extraordinary security measures and unaccounted murders
for the last two decades. Imagine you are twenty years
old, and the life you call normal is about living under
many different guns, de facto curfews and an oppressive
sense of tradition. The two low-tech real-time videos Atay
has produced are of very young people. One is a kind of "war
dance," a folkloric dance in what seems to be the
corridor of a school, and the other is of two kids in a
sort of strange local song-and-dance in the cabin of an
automatic teller machine during the evening hours.
Phil Collins’ video, Baghdad
Screen Tests, is a muted travel log. The protagonists are
often silent, as if to say: Why waste their time if there
is no truth value ascribed to them, when even the BBC chooses
no direct representation of the Iraqi populace? They may
be who they are, but in the centuries-old construction
of the orientalist subject in media representation, they
merely become fiction. Months later, after this work was
finished, the aggressive minority of the alleged coalition
is busy bombing the hell out of this civilian "fiction" with "intelligent" bombs
even while I write these lines.
Inci Eviner has made wallpaper
for this project. The wallpaper resonates at different
levels. The wallpaper is something that conceals a place
and turns it into a surface, and often covers up the poverty.
Eviner's work recalls, as well, the eternal sunsets, the
Alpine views, and the idyllic large landscape images used
as "wallpaper" from the late 1960s and the 1970s.
The images on them, however, invite a rethinking of the
interior, almost holy for the various cultures of the eastern
Mediterranean, as a site where conspiracy and terror, such
as live bombs, can be designed intimately. In the eastern
Mediterranean, the street is often thought of as a site
that belongs to the colonizer, the state and an ascriptive
modernity. The home, to the contrary, is the flag-bearer
of tradition, and the final border.
Dan Perjovschi works in the
most efficient way possible. He makes simple and direct
drawings with very brief texts that then travel across
the web to any exhibition. He has created in the last few
years a structure that has turned a fragile and disempowered
situation into one of brilliant mobility and access. At
apexart, they will be projected with the aid of a presentation
program, and updated during the run of the exhibition responding
to the changes in the international situation and the bloody
war that I hope will end soon no matter who the victim
Vasif Kortun is the director of
Proje4L Istanbul Museum of Contemporary Art and the Platform
Garanti Contemporary Art Center. Kortun was the chief curator
and director of the Third Istanbul Biennial in 1992. Between
1994 and 1997, he worked as the founding director of the
Museum of the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College.
His writing and interviews over
the last three years include Mars, NU, Flash
Art, Art Asia Pacific, Art Journal, New
Art Examiner, Contemporary, Crudelia, Art
Fan and other magazines, and contributions to exhibition
catalogs such as the 48. Sao Paolo Biennial, 2nd
Johannesburg Biennial, Manifesta 2, 1999, 48. Venice
Biennial, 6. Istanbul Biennial, Zeitwenden, Echolot and
many other exhibition catalogs.
He was one of the curators for Fresh
Cream: 10 Curators 100 Artists published by the Phaidon
Press, and has also participated in two recent publications: Curator's
Vade Mecum, Independent Curators International, NY;
and Foci: Interviews with ten international Curators (ed.
Carolee Thea). Kortun is the editor of an annual contemporary
art magazine RG published in Turkish.
In the last two years Kortun gave
talks, participated conferences and ran workshops in Egypt,
Denmark, Finland, France, Sweden, the United Kingdom, USA,
Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Italy,
Rumania, Bulgaria, Korea, and Russia.
Kortun's exhibitions in 2000-01
included Young Art in Ankara-3 an annual of survey
in Ankara, Turkey, Confessions of a Voyeur at the
Dulcinea Gallery in Istanbul, Short Stories, (La Fabbrica
del Vapore, Milano, (co-curator), Becoming a Place,
(Proje 4L, Istanbul); Unlimited#4, De Appel Foundation,
Amsterdam, The Netherlands;, (Proje4L, Istanbul), Look
Again, (Proje4L, Istanbul), Projects in 2002 include Nothing:
Haluk Akake, (Platform, Istanbul), Gabriel Lester,
(Platform, Istanbul), Women Who Wear Wigs, (Proje
4L, Istanbul), and Burt Barr. Projects in 2003 are The
Biennial of Cardoba, Argentina (co-curator); and the 2.
Biennial of Ceramics (Albissola, Italy (co-curator).
He is on the Bush Global Advisory
Committee of the Walker Art Center, the International Foundation
Manifesta board member (2000-2002). He was a 2002 jury member
for The Querini Stampalia Foundation-Furla for Art Prize,