THIS THEN THAT is the group exhibition that marks the opening of Rodeo, a new gallery in Istanbul that represents an international list of artists. Rodeo comes out of the need for additional art spaces in Istanbul that are neither highly institutionalized art centers or locally specific commercial galleries. Working with and for artists that come from different backgrounds, Rodeo will introduce artists from Turkey and this region to an international audience, as well as establishing an international approach to viewing and collecting contemporary art in Turkey. Conceived by Sylvia Kouvali, art historian living and practicing in Istanbul for the last years, Rodeo will merge the commercial character of a standard gallery with strong curatorial practice. THIS THEN THAT will take place in Tütün Deposu, the old tobacco warehouse in Tophane and after that Rodeo will stay on the second floor of the same building. The gallery’s official opening is January 2008.
Although it sounds like a pun, or the finale of someone’s talk THIS THEN THAT means to create an atmosphere of meaningful diversity to artists’ works that are somehow connected to each other but not necessarily coming from a common conceptual or aesthetic background. Borrowed from a text Apolinnaire wrote on the newly introduced collage as a medium by Picasso, THIS THEN THAT’s general and playful but at the same time specific and serious tone deals with the artworks’ objectivity and specificity, time as memory, history and fact. The space created by time and history, the region, plays a strong role in this exhibition.
The site-specific work “Ground Control” by Ögüt transforms the entrance floor into a controlled public space, an intervention that will remain following the end of the exhibition. Four more commissions are installed between two floors. The first by Panayiotou deals with utopian lands and the use of weather phenomena in our culture. The left windows are transformed into “Lightnotes” by Patsourakis while similar pre-existing events are scattered throughout the exhibition. On the same floor are Hulusi’s trademark “Expander” posters. The calm nostalgia of Karamustafa’s series of found photographs taken during the Bosphorus’ snowstorm of 1954 are contrasted visually by Alptekin’s colourful and striking collected messages. On the top floor the exhibition ends with Epaminonda’s enchanting projection.
Hüseyin Alptekin After an incredible journey starting from the 9th Istanbul Biennial going through Albania, Brazil, India, Georgia, Finland, the Venice Biennale this year and then Mongolia, Moscow and now back again, the artist functions as a tank of information, histories, objects and images. Bringing back found objects like bed sheets from The New World Hotel in Ulaan Baatar and retracing them by using their formula but changing their meaning. Black Hole has become incidents, facts, accidents, situations and circumstances by dislocating its initial purpose, if any, a series of bed sheets become witness of a man’s mania when he goes to sleep. The room is now filled with collected material from over the years, an ongoing process for the artist that will probably never end, Heterotopias is reborn for this exhibition and leaves us lost in this new world. Lovelace is a form of 90s neo-neon writing the name of the mother of cyberspace and a beautiful representation of it at the same time.
Haris Epaminonda Being obsessed with transforming the reality to her own world from collage to video, but always using found material, Epaminonda is here closing the exhibition with a video from Tarahi series. A master in discovering hidden elements in the visual world she, and by slowing down the motion, is repeating and reviewing under the mesmerizing music, transforms an Egyptian soap opera footage to a real psychological drama of a woman and (her?) two boys. Tarahi meaning something between terror and tremor in Greek becomes a captivating factor in the show.
Mustafa Hulusi Fields of Flowers is a work that functions like a signature for Hulusi. Originally an outdoor, East London poster ‘tag’, now is been repeated and creates an Alice in Wonderland hallucinatory effect. Bringing up things like op art, the 60s, unfocused exhaustion and the machine made in an open dialogue with his highly detailed paintings he is teasing us by bringing up contemporary clichés like which one of both is more serious. Monotonous wallpaper one may say, but trespassing this part it is a serious social work: an irony in what nature has turned out to be: geometry of definitely indefinite patterns.
Gülsün Karamustafa Digging up for a long time in historical archives (No1, 2 and 6 from Cengiz Kahraman archive and No5 a photo by Allahatin Büte) part of her practice in any way, she came up with the material when the famous Black Sea icebergs invaded the Bosphorus back in 1954. Relics of a bygone era where people were more connected to their surroundings without the rush of cars, where the hustle of commuting was becoming fun and where weather conditions would be an excuse to play. Presented here as a historical piece, as a work that came out of a city’s museum to work sucks us into this Istanbul that the older ones still talk about and we are left back dreaming. The Children’s Poems is an independent work summing up the latest situations in Turkey as a nostalgic and also ironic gesture (a love and hate) to her country.
Ahmet Öğüt Gro nd Control is an in situ work beautiful, funny and scary at the same time. By bringing the outside inside the artist creates an uncanny space of uneasiness and comfort. A very common material, asphalt, has covered the ground floor of Tütün Deposu and is turning a private space to a controlled state organized route. The epitome of the artist’s practice, this work complements his whole world of cars, all other sorts of vehicles, attacks, controls and symbols full of power and is making this indoor space to a room full of possible actions.
Christodoulos Panayiotou A multi-layered installation invites us to the world of realities one would say, and not the one of miracles. Starting from the Wizard of Oz the travel of the main heroine Dorothy and her friends, a serious musical fantasy where houses land upside down and songs make us dream of utopian places. A completion of the bigger research of the artist with songs sung within the Cold War in the States reflecting a loss but a greater hope for a better world (“…over the rainbow…”). Natural catastrophes like the one in the ancient village in Cyprus (Chirokitia) where the family does come together but in a dystopian way at the end and the whirlwinds footage from the same region is about weather phenomena and their crystallization as political representations. The utopian poster represents any land that we want to carry with(in) us.
Eftihis Patsourakis Using the most ephemeral memory medium, a post-it, the artist is creating what is expected to be a divine space. Lightnotes has many references to our culture and many we’ve already left behind. A nostalgic work referring to (the loss of) the sacred, its replacement by the corporeal but at the same time the fading out of memories by the natural light of the sun, a common element in his practice. In another floor a different dimension is given to the work: a one of performance and we are given its past documentations; a proof that the actual is sometimes intangible.