Photo: © Ardan Özmenoglu
A solo exhibition by Ardan Özmenoğlu
Curated by Katerina Valdivia Bruch
I have to talk about the work of Ardan Özmenoğlu, I will need to go
back in time and check what has been happening in the formation of
Turkey since the Otoman Empire until today. A lot has been changed
during that time towards the development of the Turkish nation and I am
not able to summarize it in this paper. What I am able to do is to
connect Ardan´s work in relation to Turkish contemporary art.
this exhibition, the artist recreates in silk screen prints historical
images of sultans, undercovered behind x-rays. We might not be able to
see the sultan, but we know that the image depicts one. Commonly used
in medicine for research and diagnostics, the x-rays are literally
'scanning' the sultans to see what is behind in the interior of their
bodies. X-rays make people look the same, thus we all become anonymous.
What happens today if we put a big head-dress on our head? Do we also
become a sultan? This question remains open as dresses do not
necessarily make people play a major role in society.
silk screen print shows a portait of the first president of Turkey and
popular icon Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, with an enlarged background
inscription Don´t forget me, formerly Atatürk´s hand-written phrase.
Best known for his efforts towards the modernisation of Turkey as a
democratic and secular nation-state, Atatürk was aware of the
importance of literacy and education for all Turkish inhabitants.
During his administration, he introduced the new Turkish Latin based
alphabet that replaced the Arabic script. He was influenced by Dewey´s
teaching methods and gave more space to women in public matters, such
as politics and education. As a result of secularisation, he abolished
the use of the veil. He was also influencing the arts scene by creating
in 1927 the first state art and sculpture museum, against Muslim
tradition of avioding idolatry, but corresponding to his idea of a
secular state. Atatürk considered that art production, either
traditional or modern creations, belong to the Turkish heritage and
therefore had to be shown. Ardan reminds us of his achievements that
are related to her own body of work. The artist studied at the Bilkent
University in Ankara, got an English and Turkish diploma, that she is
selling to the public as a result of her own survey about the state of
contemporary art in Turkey. She does not need a diploma to become an
artist, as the artist resides inside her. She prefers to work with
prints and installations, rather than doing paintings.
moves out from the institutional work as a graduated artist, does
street walks and observes a space full of meanings. She takes phrases
written on walls, such as God knows, or phrases on crinkled papers
posted on doors with adhesive foil that tell us to wait, I went to
Friday pray, I will come back soon, or a simple phrase such as Do not
put trash here. These phrases remind us of a social behaviour, of a
living city with a religion and certain civic manners, that the artist
recovers and writes on neon light tubes to express the importance of
common life and of personal beliefs. But, what is contemporary here?
The fact that painting and sculpture are still playing a major role in
contemporary art in Turkey makes Ardan think about institutions and how
art is being taught. The works Oil on canvas and Ink on paper are the
clues to understand this exhibition. These two works are making a
parody of the tradition of teaching art techniques in university: the
artist literally exhibits oil on canvas and ink on paper, and that
conceptualisation of the method is what we might call Very Contemporary!
Opening: April 7th, 2011 at 7 pm
Exhibition: April 8th – May 4th, 2011
Macka Modern Art Gallery
Macka Caddesi 24/1
[ curatorial text EN ]