Greetings From Now On: Territories of commitments
With works by Ali Taptik, Buğra Erol, Joana Kohen, Seza Bali, Yusuf Sevincli, Zeynep Beler
22.10.2016 – 23.12.2016
Ali Taptık, from the series “Kaza ve Kader”, 2004-2008, C-print, 65 x 65 cm
Territories of Commitments at BERLINARTPROJECTS is the first in a series of exhibitions on current photography: Greetings From Now On. This edition brings together the probing work of six Istanbul-based artists, showing how they negotiate and interact with the space which they inhabit – the rapidly expanding Turkish metropolis, conflicted and divided through the current complex urban and societal context and the significant recent changes that the city has been undergoing at one of the crossroads of global conflicts and migration. A storage system based on geolocation as a tribute to family memory; empty houses and the traces of human presence left behind; views of contemporary « flâneurs » in urban space, figuring the crisis; Signs of involvement of an artist fighting for individuality in the local and global art market or reactivating the picture archive of an environmental NGO. Various voices, multiple intensities. The range of practices of the six artists is diverse, yet united by a sense of cause, of individual commitment that permeates the works on show. Their artistic stances seem to be rooted and somehow guided by a physical reality and its components; the territory as the site of investigation, production and action1. The six artists react and comment in and on their environment, sometimes with critical attitude, always with dedication to individuality, to the point that they dream and shape their own form of territory, getting closer to the broadest sense of existential geography. They are involved in defending their position as free thinkers, in a “poetic constantly renewed by the physical and imaginary territories of intimacy”2.
Text: Katja Taylor
1 Hou Hanrou, Istanbul, Passion, Joy, Fury, 2016 ;“… the art community of Istanbul (carries) out its experimental activities directly from the everyday urban conditions – apartments, houses, streets, etc. have always been their sites of production and action”.
2 Thierry Paquot, Qu’appelle-t-on un territoire?, in “Le territoire des philosophes”, 2009, Translated from French.
Joana Kohen - To The Infected Audience
09.09. - 15.10.2016
As You Wanted Me To Be | 2016 | C-Print | 3 pieces: 80 x 120cm, 80 x 120cm, 30 x 120cm (detail)
BERLINARTPROJECTS is proud to present the work of emerging Turkish artist Joana Kohen in her first solo show in Berlin. With all but one piece being produced this year, To The Infected Audience, is a current snapshot of Kohen’s artistic process in which she uses her own body as the main site of investigation.
Kohen’s incisive work grapples with digital narcissism and the cult of individuality, self-image and the beauty myth. With an emphasis on viewing and being viewed, pieces like Free Transform and Look Of Now engage with the commonplace nature of Photoshop retouching as well as the hyper-visuality of the postinternet generation. In line with the contemporary fragmentation of self and photo editing’s cropping functions, Kohen divides her naked body into multiple parts and cuts out individual facial features in works such as Piece of Me and As You Wanted Me To Be whilst this same impulse also leads her to split single works into triptych formations in a multiplication of motifs.
A sense of symbolic violence, not of digital cropping but of physical cutting, permeates Kohen’s more abstract pieces on show. Playground is the last in a line of gold-plated objects, cages attached to chokers and an object seamlessly combining a comb with a knife preceding it. Made entirely of barbed wire, the swing is impossible to sit on, drawing the viewer in with its golden allure as much as it threatens to rip their skin if touched. Like Kohen’s cages without doors, Playground denies its original function in glittering protest.
Kohen takes a destructive approach to her art in order to drive audiences to the rising waters of digital transformation. Works like Since 1988, As You Wanted Me To Be and Career Suicide, raise new issues to discuss. Previously Kohen criticised gender and identity over autobiography; now she battles with the actors of the local and global art market - curators, collectors and institutions, but also the audience itself. The title of the exhibition addresses this “infected audience”.
Directly challenging the art system and its mentality in Career Suicide, Kohen shows a stage and three digitally manipulated figures, all of which have the same face, and creates a special effect curtain behind them, referring to a digitally modifiable theatrical scene. She embodies the central dilemma by subjecting her version of Narcissus to the gaze of the three identical figures whose approval is sought. With this piece the artist implicitly raises such questions as: “How can I fit in the trends and categories of the art world without losing my personal integrity and sacrificing my artistic stance? How can I get attention without complying and then losing my authenticity?”
In As You Wanted Me To Be, Kohen points specifically toward digital deception, as the title suggests. Here the artist visually transforms herself, letting the audience to modify her appearance in the manner of the popular sticker book game of the 90s. Kohen sees this as an “objectification of acceptance”. Since 1988 is an installation in which the artist aims to show the continuum of her appearance from childhood to the present day. Consisting of 20 head shots from Kohen’s 27 years of retrospective individual experience, the portraits reveal a variety of different facial expressions and personas, ranging from the misfit to fitting in. This spectrum of feelings shows diversity while still being there and embracing the change.
Born in 1988, Kohen lives and works in Istanbul, where she has founded the Un-Known Art Initiative – a Non Profit art space that also publishes the Un-Known/zine and Prospektus Artist’s Books. Kohen studied in textile design and In situ3 at the Istituto Marangoni, Milan, and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp. She exhibits widely in Turkey and her work has recently been featured at the Benetton Foundation Art Collection, Treviso, Italy, and at Abrazo Interno Gallery, New York. Kohen has also participated in several international art fairs, notably Contemporary Istanbul, Spectrum Miami Contemporary and Contra London.
Text: Katja Taylor