The Silent Evolution

Life-size statues near Cancún, Mexico, in a late 2010 picture.

More than 400 of the permanent sculptures have been installed in recent months in the National Marine Park of Cancún, Isla Mujeres, and Punta Nizuc as part of a major artwork called “The Silent Evolution.” The installation is the first endeavor of a new underwater museum called MUSA, or Museo Subacuático de Arte.

More on National Geographic’s website.

Working at the Pera Museum, the Japan Media Arts Festival and Maywa Denki’s Otamatone

Remember my post about the Pera Museum? Well guess what, I have been working there under the Japan Media Arts Festival for two weeks now, therefore I haven’t had much free time to update here, but it has been wonderful. You should definitely drop by if you are in Istanbul because it will definitely be worth it. I work at the fifth floor, where all the interactive media art works are, to guide some people who have a hard time understanding what’s going on, and are reluctant to touch some of the works. I still have one week left (or three days, which makes today – oopsie, it’s already 2 A.M.!, wednesday and friday, I’m there from 3 P.M. to 7 P.M.) so drop by if you want to see me AND the exhibitions. I figured I would have seen more familiar faces, but so far, apart from the friends I dragged along, I only saw one of the assistants from college and some celebrities that I didn’t recognize but was told later on who they were (why am I so bad with faces? WHY?)

Ahem. So I’ll tell you my favorite work at the exhibition which is the Otamatone by the Maywa Denki corporation. Before I started working in the museum, I attended the seminars (because I wanted to, I hadn’t even seen the job posting at the time) where the artists introduced their works so that helped a lot while answering questions. I saw the guy who invented the otamatone and he was an adorable person. So basically the otamatone is a music-note shaped cute toy/musical instrument where the stem of the note is the handle of the instrument, the head of the note is actually… a head, and the flag of the note is a rotatable piece. This all sounds really confusing, but to sum it up:

Behold, the otamatone! To play this very cute instrument, you have to use two hands. While pressing on the touchpad on the handle, you have to squeeze the cheeks of the head so that the mouth will open and a high pitched or bass sound will be played through the small speaker inside the head. The notes start with Do from the top. You do have to press on the cheeks or there will  be no sound at all. I find this ingenious and adorable at the same time. And today for the first time, I have looked at the price through amazon.com, and the price of this black otamatone is *drumroll please* – only 35.95$! I was expecting it to be over 70$ so I guess this is pretty decent. There are a lot of different versions of the otamatone, the black one being my favorite. There is also a white version, and another version with a face consisting of teeth (the black one has a silver colored handle while the white one has a gold colored one). You could purchase one from this link.

Anyway, you could play with them for free (once you pay for the museum ticket) as long as you want on the fifth floor of the museum. The exhibition will continue until the 3rd of October, so be sure to pay a visit before it’s over.

More updates soon!

Update from my life + Pera Museum

Lately I have been busy with my internship in a printing house. It’s a nice place hidden in a queer neighborhood, the place is in the middle of the city but nobody really knew how to get there and I got lost 4 times on my second day (the first day I had hired a cab) but well, when you learn how to get there the rest is easy. Oh and I have learned a lot from my internship so far.

Last weekend I went to the Botero exhibition in the Pera Museum with my mother, and it was quite interesting but not as interesting as the exhibitions downstairs from the Suna and İnan Kıraç collection. One was of the panaromas of İstanbul and other nice portraits of women and royal life. There was also a replica of the Tamer of tortoises (Kaplumbağa Terbiyecisi) which my mother took a liking to since she first saw its photo many years ago. The other exhibition was of the various types of weighing systems, and there were a lot of weights from Roman Antiquity to Byzantium period weights to Ottoman then modern weights and so, there was one shaped like the head of Heracles (or Hercules), another looking  like a 12-sided die which we use to play FRP and much more. There was also a pretty sundial which I liked, and next time I’ll be sure to bring my camera with me, because they were so pretty ^^

By the way, entering the Pera Museum is only 3 liras for students and 5 liras per person for other people. So it’s quite cheap and worth paying for to see those wonderful collections.

11th Istanbul Biennal – What Keeps Mankind Alive?

I visited two of the 11th Istanbul Biennal locations on Saturday; at the Feriköy Greek School in Şişli and the Tobacco Warehouse in Tophane. I didn’t go to the third and largest location, Antrepo No.3 yet, because I had some other exhibitions that I wanted to visit that day. Funny thing is, I had thought that all of these locations were odd, but according to the Biennal Guide, The Top 5 venues wish list went like this:

1. Istanbul Museum of Painting and Sculpture

2. The ex-Istanbul U.S. Consulate General building

3. Ottoman Bank Archive and Research Center

4. Haydarpaşa Train Station

5. Park Hotel

These locations, unfortunately were not able to host the biennal due to bureaucratic, financial and security reasons, which is quite a shame because I really think that the Haydarpaşa Train Station would have been awesome.

I thought the most intruiging part of the Biennal within the Feriköy Greek School was Larissa Sansour’s short movie, “Soup Over Bethlehem” which according to the Biennal Guide, “depicts and ordinary Palestinian family, Sansour’s own, seated around a table on a rooftop overlooking Bethlehem. ‘Mloukhieh’, a national Palestinian dish is served, and what starts as a culinary discussion about the food soon evolves into a personal and engaging conversation about the politics and conditions of life under the restraints of occupation. Snatches of English occasionally interrupt the Arabic spoken around the table, indicating the ways in which fragmented identities are rebuilt through life in exile. The routine issues discusses amongst family members in the middle of the occupation counters clichés about victimhood and the stereotyped debates over identity.

‘I’m so occupied these days’, says one of the people at the table towards the end of the video. Someone replies, laughing: ‘Aren’t we all.’ Along with Sansour’s other projects, Soup Over Bethlehem breaks up ethnic stereotypes with a strategic dose of humour, and depicts Palestinian reality in a way that remains critical, yet steers clear of representational clichés”

I liked Sansour’s video because I think that might have been how conversations around my mother’s family table might have been when they first arrived at Istanbul. If you want to watch the video, it’s available here.

The other work I really liked – and found very amusing – was Siniša Labrović‘s Postgraduate Education. According to the Biennal Guide,

“Using different performative strategies Siniša Labrović challenges the limits of what is allowed, and the codependence between artist, audience and exhibition context. Postgraduate Education uses the rhetoric of self-help and ‘how to’ books, transferring it to the field of education. But this particular education teaches the ABC of typical criminal activities. The book is a continuation of Undergraduate Studies organized in 2008 in Zagreb as a series of workshops held by ‘experts’ from different fields of crime, with topics ranging from drug dealing and burglary, to ‘rules of conduct’ in criminal circles.

In the post-industrial context, Labrović challenges market and class demands for ‘life-long education’, which requires improvement in every aspect of the worker’s labour skills, and increasing ‘flexibility’. Commenting ironically on the increasingly blurred borders between business, politics and crime, the book offers an overview of different topics, ranging from debt collection and shoplifting to developing public-private partnerships, corruption and nepotism. The irony is taken to its extreme. The bold approach of Postgraduate Education follows the doctrine of the education system -preparing people for (more or less) successful servitude within the established systems, through opportunism, competition, deceitfulness, and highly structured rules of conduct. It suggests criminal behaviour as a prerequisite to both commercial and social success.”

I think you should see the text of Labrović’s work for yourself, it is really hilarious.

In the other Biennal venue I visited, the Tobacco Warehouse, I found the work of Vyacheslav Akhunov‘s work 1m2 very interesting. According to the Biennal guide,

1 m2 (2007) is an installation of one square metre of matchboxes, and is probably the largest retrospective exhibition displayed in such a small space. The matchboxes are filled with the artist’s small-scale reproductions, drawings and plans taken from his numerous journals and albums from 1976 to 1991. On a monitor available for detailed viewing there is an archive of Akhunov’s journals and artist’s books.
Akhunov’s works push the aesthetics of Soviet propaganda to the limits, and open up a number of questions that go beyond ironic subversion of the ideological apparatus. They form an archive that has a relationship to the past, beyond that of revisionism or nostalgia, and their relationship with communism remains open.”

1m2

1m2

Another work that I found interesting in the Tobacco Warehouse was Işıl Eğrikavuk‘s short documentary video,  Gül. The story of this young woman was truly interesting and captivating. According to the Biennal Guide,

“In Gül (2008), the main character, a woman, talks about her past and the arranged marriage she had to endure at the age of fourteen. As the young woman talks she is interrupted by scenes in which she takes on the role of an actor, commenting on the ‘character’ she is playing, and analysing the plausibility of her role. The almost voyeuristic interest in hearing the confessions of an abused woman is subverted as the story slides into fiction, questioning society’s reaction to violence.”

I really want to visit the third location of the Biennal soon, and I recommend everyone to go while the Biennal lasts (which is until the 8th of November).

The Biennal Guide I rant on about is only 2 YTL (which is not even a Euro) so it is very cheap and it’s not bad either if you want to have more information about the artists and their works. Here is the map for the Biennal venue locations, but I can say that the Feriköy Greek School is just at the top of the slope from the Osmanbey Metro station, and the Tobacco Warehouse is a short walk from the Galata tower (when you walk past it from the left, not the right), go down the slope, walk until the end of the road and it’s there.

Yaşam Şaşmazer

Today, I went to Yaşam Şaşmazer‘s exhibition “Strangely Familiar” at Çağla Cabaoğlu Art Gallery with my friend Yankı, who apparently has previously posted about this on her blog. I really did adore the sculptures although I think they were a bit damaged (probably because they were in a fair before this exhibition). The exhibition had its opening reception today so it’s really fresh and will continue until the 15th of October.

Here are some photos I took of two of his wooden sculptures, a bronze relief and another sculpture made from bronze which I particularly liked. Enjoy!

flow /Debi

I don’t know if I have any works in this exhibition at the Sakıp Sabancı Museum, but I’d be delighted to find out if I do. If I don’t have anything there, I guess it’s okay, since I have only been producing something in Sabancı University for just a year. I’m looking forward to this exhibition and will be visiting tomorrow. Here’s the description of the exhibition, Flow:

“The Flow exhibition is the moment to engage with three years of work within the VA VCD program at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Sabanci University. The exhibition covers the period from 2007 to 2009, showcasing the students’ creative practices. Flow will be exhibited at Sakıp Sabancı Museum between 10-16 August 2009.

The theme of the exhibition this year is Flow and focuses on the work in progress and ideas that students have developed during their course of study. These are projects that have been presented as academic papers or exhibited in international artistic and professional venues.

The exhibition of students’ work is an opportunity to engage with new ideas by the new generation on the future of the creative industry and present the talents nurtured by skilled professionals in the VA VCD program at Sabanci University.

For more information, please click here.

SSM information about Flow