Off-site: APARTMENT PROJECT
Seeing and Hearing Billy Apple®, Ceren Oykut, Erkan Özgen, and Cengiz Tekin
30.3. – 5.5.2018
Artist Talk: 30. March 2018, 18:00
Apartment Project Berlin Hertzbergstr. 13, 12055 Neukölln, Berlin Opening hour Thur-Fri-Sat 16:00-19:00 http://berlin.apartmentproject.org
Cengiz Tekin, Silence, 2018, video, still. Courtesy of the artist
Erkan Özgen, Wonderland, 2016, video, still. Courtesy of the artist
BILLY APPLE Basic Needs, 2014 UV impregnated ink on canvas 61.8 x 38.2 x 3.5 cm (24.33 x 15.04 x 1.38 in) Commissioned by Misal Adnan Yıldız. Courtesy of the artist and Starkwhite
Image: Cengiz Tekin, from series of drawings Silence, 2017
Seeing and Hearing
The exhibition entitled Seeing and Hearing arose out of a closed workshop* held in Berlin, which conceptually linked three artistic projects from two different hemispheres of our planet: Basic Needs (2014), by Auckland based artist Billy Apple® in New Zealand, and two recent projects from Diyarbakır-based artists: Wonderland (2016), by Erkan Özgen, and Silence (2017), recently completed by Cengiz Tekin in Turkey. During the process of arranging this proposal with Neukölln’s Apartment Project, Ceren Oykut responded to the invitation to revisit her site-specific wall drawing started almost a year ago, a long-term project developing in the direction of her next solo exhibition at the venue, Still Here. Oykut’s wall drawing arises from her notebooks and doodles from the German courses she has attended. In parallel with her working process, the work itself inevitably reflects her orientation to Berlin and her adjustment to a new environment. As part of Seeing and Hearing, the artist presents for the first time several installation elements made of steel, testing her ideas before her solo process in dialogue with Misal Adnan Yıldız. Examining language, self-expression, and communication as fundamental elements of human life, this conversation develops a strong connection with Apartment Project, a non-profit artist run space grounded in collective understandings of artistic research and production.
Commissioned by Misal Adnan Yıldız, Billy Apple®’s Basic Needs has been committed to changing people’s lives since its conception. The piece proceeds from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, listing food, water, shelter, and clothing as basic needs. Ongoing conversations with the artist have been dominated by consideration of its translation into different languages, its adaptation into diverse cultural contexts, and its potential interactions with diverse communities. Following one of Apple®’s characteristic artistic strategies, his site-specific installation at Apartment Project brings the windows of the venue into the public domain, with the intention of increasing social consciousness and political awareness of the visible impact of migration politics and the refugee crises in the area.
Comprising a series of drawings on paper and a video piece, Cengiz Tekin’s Silence is a complex body of work dealing with the psychology of war, the normalisation of violence, and the politics of isolation. Tekin, mostly known for his lens-based practice of video and photographic works, skilfully draws certain motifs from his own domestic space, framing them within dramatic narratives. His mother’s passport photo attached to an electric switch, a tiny nail on the wall, and an extension cord, depicted in life-size stills as fragments of his everyday reality, accompany a black-screen video work based on sound elements from explosions with cues and subtitles. Familiarity with the sounds of weapons, bombs, and other military devices, and knowledge and experience of their types, models, and numbers, from living with the reality of war, open up critical questions surrounding public security, safe spaces, and the meaning of human life.
A direct but ironic reference to Lewis Carrol’s masterpiece, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Erkan Özgen’s video work Wonderland portrays a Syrian boy who relays his traumatic experience escaping from war. As Caravaggio depicted his subjects, Muhammed tells his story in the type of stark detail accessible only to the one who endured it. His unique way of narrating his flight from the life of a thug is a strong call for morality and peace. Two significant biographical elements particularly touch at the heart of narrative politics in this piece: Muhammed is a 13 year old boy, who is deaf and mute. Furthermore, he used to live with his family in Kobanê, in northern Syria, which was recently renamed Rojava. His hometown became a worldwide center of attention during its 107-day-long resistance against the disproportionately heavy ISIS attacks that started in September, 2014. Reenacting the murders and the gestures of fear, Muhammed tells of the militias murdering his neighbors, members of his family, including six of his own cousins.
*On Tuesday, January 30, 2018, Loading, a non-profit and independent art space from Diyarbakır, Turkey, invited several professionals to a workshop during their research visit in Berlin as part of Mutterzunge, an independent programming of conversations, events and presentations. The workshop was held at nbk’s studio residency with the artists Cengiz Tekin and Erkan Özgen, and moderated by Misal Adnan Yıldız. It focused on their most recent works, opening up conversations about the politics of language and the meaning of silence, as well as on questions of belonging, geography, and self-organisation. The development of content for the exhibition Seeing and Hearing accumulated through this workshop* process, which now operates as an off-site project for Mutterzunge’s program.
**Connecting filmic, performative, and curatorial discussions with contemporary literature and critical writing, Mutterzunge investigates autonomy, anonymity, and authenticity. As an inquiry into unorthodox forms of exhibition-making, Mutterzunge is an independent program of research visits, studio residencies, invited table conversations, and mapping of installations and events in Berlin. Revisiting Berlin-based author Emine Sevgi Özdamar’s book of the same name—in her city—this proposal by Misal was one of three winners of the Curate Award, an international competition promoted by Fondazione Prada and the Qatar Museums. Launched in May 2013, the Curate Award aimed to find new curating talent and bring about original perspectives in exhibition-making. The international jury selected three winning projects in August 2014 out of a large number of submitted proposals from 63 different countries.