Art reference

On art and humor: Duo of directors at SALT

By its nature, youth have a rebellious spirit. He feels different and therefore finds it difficult to comply. This reluctance can translate into a sort of adolescent awkwardness that persists as the onset of adulthood gives birth to binary inventions of the social imagination, fashioned from an archetypal construction of human life in which everything new must. fit in and be counted by the success and volume of their guess.

A person, despite the scientific terminology, is not reproduced, but forms according to the unique pressures within which he grows, either outward or upward, in order to gain valuable perspective, becoming as well an outsider, or more internally and in a more connected way, so that fit into the status quo by copying its tendencies and identities. In response to such notions, the curators of the “The Sequential” exhibition series at SALT Galata have grown in strength.

“Better late than never” by Onur Gökmen and Fatma Belkıs. (Courtesy of SALT Galata)

From the archaeological policy of Barış Doğrusöz to the concrete editorial of Deniz Gül and the removal of celluloid by Volkan Aslan, “The Sequential” has grazed the conceptual polarization of lightness and its opposite in a lack of seriousness, or weight, which founds plus traditional cultural productions with rigid definitions of tragedy and comedy. In contemporary art, however, the presence of humor maintains a rarefied tone.

This is the case of the exhibition “Belkıs Hanım and Onur Efendi” at SALT Galata, edited by the artists Fatma Belkıs and Onur Gökmen. First, the underground space where the artists’ works are exhibited is filled with sculptural pieces that seem somewhat out of place. It’s not easy to say exactly why, but they just look fake, out of proportion or out of place, not in their element like fish out of water. They are the art equivalent of high school dance movements.

A Japanese-style red paper fan is spread out against a wall. Its title reads “Hittite Sun” in reference to a recurring theme throughout the exhibition, which includes some seven sculptures all made during the year, and a concurrently produced film, “The Connected”. Although the artists proudly state that this is their first feature film, the video runs under 20 minutes and includes three scenes that establish logic as absurd as some Modernist ideals.

As a thinker thinks

Belkıs and Gökmen seem to have satirized the role of the sufficient intellectual in the history of the transition from late Ottoman society to the citizenship of the Republic of Turkey. One claim that found its way through the pores of turn-of-the-century Anatolian literati is called the Sun Language Theory, a hypothesis that sought to prove that the Turkish language family was the oldest in the world. The theory developed in the 1930s as Turkish faced nationalist reforms where words of Arabic and Persian origin were replaced with their Turkish alternatives.

It’s about as absurd to expect a nonchalant urban explorer to look at a twisted, reflective metallic likeness of a fan and imagine he could spark thoughts on the anachronistic speculation developed in the 1930s, when the Turkish language was subject to nationalist revisions. In the process of filtering Arabic and Persian, members of the fledgling Ankara-based republic were not immune to senseless vanities.

A still from

A still from

In their movie, “The Connected”, there is a scene in which the three main characters are sitting in a furnished trailer. They are said to represent a writer, painter and actor, all of whom are frustrated with the unsuccessful attempts to inherit the advances of Ottoman culture from the Tanzimat era and to westernize themselves by maintaining a scientific basis for their aspirations. creative. But the camera focuses on a mustached man reading aloud.

He declares: “Your Excellency, Turkish is the mother of all languages. And since he says that the first time a human being spoke he spoke Turkish, he then utters the first vowels of the language. “Aa! He shouts, until, finally, his recitation ends with the word “Ankara”. At that moment, the actor betrays the solemn convictions of his character and breaks the smile. This is not a completely unfounded gesture, because the film then takes itself less and less seriously.

After a brief interlude in which this reader appears shirtless in a cave, ostensibly seeking an anthropological sign of solar language deep within the Earth, the hapless trio sit under the stars, spending their time as the hapless writer recounts them tries to come up with names for a story, but stops at Sait and Faik, a humorous nod to the eponymous master of Turkish short fiction.

'Hamdy attacked by the great white' (2021) by Onur Gökmen and Fatma Belkıs.  (Courtesy of SALT Galata)

“Hamdy attacked by the great white” (2021) by Onur Gökmen and Fatma Belkıs. (Courtesy of SALT Galata)

Being caught in the act

“The Connected” is a far cry from the artful and demanding cinematography of Volkan Aslan’s films for The Sequential, “Stay Safe” (2021) and “Best Wishes” (2019). Instead, perhaps more authentic to their aesthetic roots in gritty independent cinema of the 1990s, “The Connected” has a B-movie video quality. Although there are redemption shots, the game actor is either incomplete or excessive. But he retains a satisfying self-awareness throughout.

Because there is a self-deprecating sense of humor in the movie, and because it doesn’t take itself seriously, it has the potential to trigger the kind of heard laughter that throws a searing spotlight and criticizing the historical precedent of his material while simultaneously criticizing the appearance of contemporary art as a mildly fictitious portrayal of intellectuals’ continued failures to uphold the principles to which they personally aspire, and as the result of their presumably enlightened national collectivizations.

In the institutional text published by SALT to contextualize the cryptic exhibition, which might sound like a joke, the artists were said to have been inspired by the famous Ottoman painter Osman Hamdi Bey. One of the sculptures, “Revolt Against the Sun” (2021) apparently depicts the bureaucratic pressures in Hamdi Bey’s life. It is a wooden device, an open door on a floor of intertwined planks, leading to a compartment.

The centerpiece of “Revolt Against the Sun” appears to be a strange object, with a pale yellowish-green surface, inside the bowels of the curious half-built assemblage. A more direct reference to Hamdi Bey, might be the play, “Hamdy Attacked by the Great White” (2021), in which the likeness of a shark and a man are side by side in unfinished wooden boxes, deducing the distraction of the museum of Turkey’s foundations, the eccentricities of its detour, even imposed, cultural transformations in the mind of the West, although misguided.

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