artists: Banu Cennetoglu and Ahmet Ogut
assistant curator: Nazli Gurlek
coordinates: Venice, 2009
project coordinator: Üstüngel Inanc
commissioner: Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts
The project developed for the Pavilion of Turkey is titled as “Lapses”. A lapse in the linear and continuous flow of time implies either a sense of disorientation or a disconnection with our personal surroundings. Only by recognizing (après coup) such a lapse do we realize our ability to restructure memory in the space and time continuum through an uninterrupted flow, with afterimages that recur by narrations and our senses. This is a subjective act. However, in societies dependent on the credibility of everyday media, huge visual archives operate as the collective memory.
In this context, “Lapses” consists of two art projects: “Exploded City” by Ahmet Ögüt, and “CATALOG 2009” by Banu Cennetoglu, which both reveal the possibility for diverse memory formations – or diverse narratives – conceivable through lapses.
Ahmet Ögüt traces buildings that have recently been the site of a crucial event and have turned into ruins, thus triggering associations in our subconscious. “Exploded City” presents a model city by referring to the original architectural features of each building. The work questions the significations and values attributed to these buildings before and after the explosion, while detecting lapses that occur in our memory via media images. It also manifests otherwise concealed lapses by ripping the buildings off their memory. In viewers’ minds, this research may find openings similar to Borges’ forking paths, Calvino’s fictions of imaginary cities, and Toufic’s ruins.
“CATALOG 2009” holds to the fact that photography, extracted from the reality in which it was shot, is not only expected to exist in a new subjective and critical context, but also to become the bearer of expression for this new context. Banu Cennetoglu’s photographs pertain to different geographies whilst simultaneously being open to fictional narratives. The work is presented in the form of a performative “mail order catalog” where hundreds of photographs are classified under subjective categories. The artist will allow free download of all the photographs from the mailing catalog exclusively during the duration of the Venice Biennial. This process also signifies the questioning of the dissemination of artwork and photography as extracts of memory.
The Pavilion of Turkey is designed to be a straightforward, self-standing building at the Arsenale. This scaffold building functions as an interface to present these two projects with the intention of both separating and intersecting them in a subversive manner.
The project is accompanied by a book series of three volumes. Edited by Basak Senova, the first volume can be considered as the catalog of the exhibition, as it explores the conceptual framework, the artworks and the insights on the overall production process. Along with texts by the curator, the assistant curator and the artists, contributions by Remco de Blaaij, Sezgin Boynik, Erhan Muratoglu, November Paynter, Mounira Al Solh, Pelin Tan on the artists’ works shape the first volume of the book.
The second volume, edited by Jalal Toufic, consists of a set of philosophical essays by William C. Chittick, Jalal Toufic and Paul Virilio, which looks into the concept of lapses with depth and from different points. Along with a variety of quotes, inserted between these essays, this volume constitutes the source of influence for the entire project.
The third volume, again edited by Basak Senova, presents four case studies discussed within the conceptual framework of this project. These are Park Hotel by Ceren Oykut, with contributions by Gökhan Akçura, Korhan Gümüs, Cem Sorguç and Levent Soysal; Postcapital by Daniel García Andújar with contributions by Iris Dressler and Hans D. Christ; Kriegspiel by Mushon Zer-Aviv and Alex Galloway; and Master Plan by Yane Calovski in company with short interviews by Basak Senova.
The assistant editor of the volume 1 and 3 is Nazli Gürlek. The design of the book series is by Eray Makal. A year later a fourth book was published to document the realization of the pavilion in Venice. A year later, a fourth book was published to document the realization of the the Pavilion of Turkey in Venice.
The Spatial Design of the Pavilion
In the Venice Biennale, a specific art context is predominantly maintained through the main exhibition and the national pavilions, and it is a conscious decision for the viewer to view the works in this context. At the same time, the viewer is pre-conditioned to be or not to be emotionally and intellectually engaged during this visit. Nevertheless, the viewer’s immersion is restricted with the limited time that s/he would devote to each artwork in the exhibition or in any of the pavilions.
In such a setting, the Venice Biennale extends itself to two main venues and multiple extensions of national pavilions. The Pavilion of Turkey was located in Arsenale. While Arsenale could be considered a public space to host millions of visitors within the timeframe of six months, it was obviously planned to be a privatized and even commodified space with the existence of national pavilions and designated exhibition areas. In this context, the structure of the Pavilion of Turkey, which standed alone,somehow seemingly attached and detached to the main building, oscillated between being public and private, yet constructed a temporary lapse within the perceptual level.
The pavilion clearly did not belong to where it stands; however, presumably anything could find its place in the continuously articulated context of the Venice Bienale. Nevertheless, the pavilion was also designed to function as an interface, which positions the viewer to experience the artworks as an individual act, by sustaining ‘aesthetic distance ’24 for the viewer. Instead of leading the viewer to passive acceptance, the temporary structure of the pavilion alerts the viewer in the self-contained venue that presented the works. The pavilion fluctuated between its subversive existence and its self-manifestation of being an explicit interface. It was instrumental as well; it simultaneously gathered and divided the two works it inhabits.
It was crowded with overloaded information. It exceeded its boundaries. It was subversive. It was cooperative. It was modest. It was noticeable. It was once just a drawing on paper. Accepted. Built. Used. Now, the pavilion itself is a lapse in Arsenale.