curator: Basak Senova
artists: Pınar Yolaçan, Oleg Dou, Cindy Sherman, Azade Köker, Bedri Baykam, Bengü Karaduman, Ferhat Özgür, Gilbert & George, Hale Tenger, Tracey Emin, Mateo Mate, Burak Delier, Gülsün Karamustafa, İhsan Oturmak, Kendell Geers, Komet, Nan Goldin, Nilbar Güreş, Özlem Günyol, Rebecca Horn, Tomur Atagök, Veljko Zejak, Ola Kolehmainen, Benji Boyadgian and Hera Büyüktaşçıyan
venue: The Municipal Art Gallery of Mytilene
coordinates: Mytilene, Lesvos, 2016
Lines of Passage (in medias res) endeavours to demonstrate a variety of connections among narratives of memory and expressions of differing intensities and (stylistic) approaches through artworks selected from the permanent collection of the Elgiz Museum in Istanbul. Sevda and Can Elgiz began amassing the collection in 1980 by focusing on “the contemporary” in art and life and in 2001, made the collection accessible to the public at The Elgiz Museum in Istanbul.
Lines of Passage (in medias res) forms a constellation reflecting on the trajectories of memory and perception. Within the exhibition, potential encounters between the selected artworks and spaces designate an ever-changing dynamic which is based on personal narratives, consciousness, psychological and cognitive recognitions. The exhibition suggests various paths of understanding through its scenography and potential dialogues of historically and politically charged geographies. It is nurtured by a selection of core works encompassing a cross section of narratives. Each work in the exhibition connects to another with non-linear narratives employing the in medias res, either through content-based or form-based links.
The first iteration of Lines of Passage (in medias res) will take place at the Municipal Art Gallery of Mytilene on the Greek Island of Lesvos. The gallery, formerly known as the Halim Bey Mansion, is an example of the island’s Ottoman period architecture. Furthermore, there is an emotional connection with the Lesvos venue: Can Elgiz’s great grandfather, Halim Bey, was born and raised in this building. The exhibition, already inhabited and inscribed in the narrative of the building, aims to add and route other lines of passage.
Lines of Passage (in medias res) winds through the Halim Bey Mansion and presents artworks in various media ranging from painting to sculpture, from installation to objects, from photographs to film and video by prominent artists including: Pınar Yolaçan, Oleg Dou, Cindy Sherman, Azade Köker, Bedri Baykam, Bengü Karaduman, Ferhat Özgür, Gilbert & George, Hale Tenger, Tracey Emin, Mateo Mate, Burak Delier, Gülsün Karamustafa, İhsan Oturmak, Kendell Geers, Komet, Nan Goldin, Nilbar Güreş, Özlem Günyol, Rebecca Horn, Tomur Atagök, Veljko Zejak, Ola Kolehmainen, Benji Boyadgian and Hera Büyüktasçiyan.
On the Spatial Design of the Exhibition
Since the point of departure for the exhibition was the Halim Bey Mansion, the intention and priority was to keep the ‘identity’ of the mansion as a living environment. The mansion was transformed into a white cube (gallery space) in 1994 and became the Municipal Art Gallery of Mytilene. In order to disrupt the aura of the white cube and to use the space as a transitional device between the past and the present, I worked on two strategies: (i) to place the artworks by personifying them; and (ii) to bring ‘some’ furniture to the space.
Accordingly, I decided within the exhibition design, to limit the number of artworks to be installed in the two halls, seven rooms and the staircase —and rather treated them as if they were the residents of this mansion. Furthermore, during a consultation with the Elgiz family,we discovered several pieces of Ottoman period furniture which had been used by the Koulaxizoglou family while living in the mansion. In addition, these pieces had been purchased from Lesvos’ most famous antique dealer, Dimitri Demerzis. The Municipal Art Gallery also owns an extensive collection of ‘Ottoman storage chests’ which were also used in the setup of the exhibition.
As a result, each room and/or each spatial compartment in the mansion was limited to two or three artworks, and they connected to each other —through theme-based, narration-based, form-based, and structure-based links. Upon entering the mansion, the references and the personal stories that one carries with him/herself merges with the conversations of the non-linear narratives of the exhibition and thus spectators are invited to join these conversations ‘in medias res’.