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Roundtrip Istanbul

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    Worth the return: Roundtrip Istanbul Nov. 4 - Dec. 12 at the Borusan Culture and Art Center JOHN COOK Istanbul - Turkish Daily News The Borusan Culture and
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 10, 1998
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      Worth the return: 'Roundtrip Istanbul' Nov. 4 - Dec. 12 at the Borusan
      Culture and Art Center

      JOHN COOK

      Istanbul - Turkish Daily News

      The Borusan Culture and Art Center once again brings a provocative and
      stimulating exhibition of Turkish artists to Istanbul. It may seem
      strange that one would need to bring Turkish artists to Turkey, but
      this is just what "Istanbul Roundtrip" ("Istanbul Gidis-Donus") is
      about. With the support of Borusan Oto (one may have seen their BMW
      dealerships) General Manager Sami Caner, Art Gallery Manager Binnaz
      Tukin and Art Gallery adviser Beral Madra (who also curated Istanbul
      Bilgi University's recent tour de force "Art Agora" and "Modernity and
      Memories"), the work of five Turkish artists residing abroad has been
      brought to Istanbul.

      A visitor to one's own home

      Fatih Aydogdu (Vienna), Cem Aydogan (New York), Ergin Cavusoglu
      (London), Melek Mazici (Helsinki) and Sukran Moral (Rome) have each
      submitted works from exile, as Beral Madra has defined them. The works
      range from video and installation to etching and photography. Due to
      the limited space of the gallery -- eventually to be enlarged once
      Borusansanat opens a new center in the near future -- the works fail to
      make an immediate impact. Only Cem Aydogan's "Excess Baggage" (1998)
      really occupies the space in a commanding way. His mixed media
      construction of plastic teeth, white chocolate, dough and lights
      creates an haunting image of a traveler/exile/refugee. A translucent
      suitcase dimly glows as it sits on the floor with a statue of a man in
      white chocolate standing on top. Spiraling upwards from the figurine is
      a chain of teeth. The material of the suitcase has a morbid quality to
      it, as if it was made of skin or fat. The work is reminiscent of the
      1960s and 70s performance artist Joseph Beuys and the artistic
      innovation of the Fluxus movement. Aydogan's work can be seen on the
      mezzanine level of the gallery.

      Most disappointing is Sukran Moral's "Turkish Bath" ("Hamam"),
      represented only by a slide projected on the back wall of the ground
      floor of the gallery. It fails to recreate the sensation of the video
      project shown at last year's 5th Istanbul Biennal. I found the piece
      problematic when I first saw it at the Biennal. In "Roundtrip Istanbul"
      it becomes even more cloudy in interpretation. Moral's catalog
      description does little to clarify her video-performance. Her idealized
      transgressive actions do not address the complex social, cultural,
      feminist and gender issues brought up in "Hamam." Her focus on the
      uncertainty of masculine identity in the hamam mixed with her
      semi-nudity just touches the surface of the complex performative
      activity of public bathing. I fear the visitor to Borusansanat will be
      completely baffled by the still image.

      The remaining works fall somewhere in between Aydogan's and Moral's
      remembrances of a home long since left behind. I found the large format
      photographs of Ergin Cavusoglu quite pleasing and witty. Had they been
      framed in a more innovative manner, such as placing them in huge frames
      with a large white border, perhaps his political architectural
      landscapes, as the author describes them, could have more impact.

      In contrast, Melek Mazici's "In the Moonlight" (1998) is a highly
      sexual landscape of interiors providing a subtleness which is missing
      from Cavusoglu's and Moral's pieces on exhibit. The gray-tone etchings
      invite the viewer into the feminine sexuality of the floral
      environments Mazici evokes in her work. Though the artist disregards
      any substantive meaning in the setting of her works, I find it
      difficult to make the conceptual leap from her images on paper to her
      words in print. She writes in the catalog of the exhibition that her
      purpose is to "discover [herself] as a woman and as a human being."
      Even for those who are looking for less far-reaching insight than
      Mazici proposes in her text will enjoy the sensual poetry of her
      images.

      I highly recommend visitors purchase a copy of the bilingual exhibition
      catalog of "Istanbul Roundtrip" for the stunning reproductions and
      exhibition histories. Unfortunately, the text suffers from an
      over-reliance on semiotics and clever quotation and fails to illuminate
      the artists themselves or the meaning behind their art work. One can
      appreciate the use of such theories in an exhibition catalog, but only
      if they serve to elucidate the theoretical or compositional basis for
      the art work. As an exercise in themselves they crowd the space in the
      catalog, uncomfortably squeezing the artists' own images.

      The Borusan Culture and Art Center is located at Istiklal Cad. No. 421
      Beyoglu, istanbul. Tel: (0212) 292 06 55 Fax. (0212) 252 45 91

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