Negotiating the In-Between?

By Karen Edwin, 19 July 2006

Negotiating the In-Between?at the edge of the location of Emergence…

The project curator Gulsen Bal in 'territories of Duration' (i) addresses a number of questions which are characteristic to epistemological approach in defining creative practice within its geopolitical context towards the production of the subject.

In an engagement with the “flows and the spaces of encounters” where this creative project was initiated through the exhibition 'where it was, shall I be' (ii) which took place in September 2005 at Keçiburcu in Diyarbakır, the approach here takes a close proximity with transitional interactions.

It seems that something significant has to be taken on board as it is poetic as much as it is political into the proliferations of the sites towards re-reading “cultural turn.” The scenario which occurs inside the fixed limits of these paradoxical settings mirrors “the regional, personal and territorial encounters [which] enable artists to appropriate the very domain of marginalized history in constructing their national identities, its aspiration to complete itself within us.” (iii)

An impelling force of ‘difference’ operating in and across the existential territorial boundaries consequently lies beyond globalisation’s accompanying shadow where the contradictory tensions that are at play.

In her curatorial constrain Bal brings some questions into attention by asking: “where do ‘borders’ and ‘in-between spaces’ exist relative to the […] new the fortress Europe (Festung Europa) which marks a rupture with a Europe to come.”

A key to these paradoxical parameters needs to be designated. Such articulation reflects the foundation of “sovereign power” on what Agamben calls a fundamental bio-political fracture that between “bare life” and political life; force us to re-think the Nation-State and borders. These inclinations also influence a specific conjuncture of a simultaneous relationship of the proliferations of the sites.

Today’s curatorial and artistic practices still could bring the identity politics of the 90’s, which sought to deal with cultural difference either by emphasising multiple identities or by showing the constructed nature of national identity. Perhaps with this token, what one might think that this exhibition is not an exception?

However Bal further reinforces the discussion about the politics of identity and the question of different engagement of artistic production in regard to the “politics of space” into focus. Deepening this might lead crystallization, and this is where she invites us to engage with what happens within the realm of artistic expression that suggests a connection marked by ‘here’ and ‘there’? Together with she asks: “what is still ‘missing’ in trans-local and trans-national locations within the divergent lines of encounter?”

Then, what really happens in that space? The surface so formed by layers and cross-references... It looks in order to reveal the complexity of each layer and cross-references of the inquiry; it is necessary to rectify the world, “a word ruled by in-determination” and recognise the impossibility of the project…

At this point, some artistic practice needs to be put forward. In the midst of the impossibility of the engagement, both visiting and local artists Cengiz Tekin, Dilek Winchester, Elena Cologni, Genco Gülan, Karl Ingar Røys, Nasan Tur, Shezad Dawood, Sophia Kosmaoglou and Turan Aksoy have been invited to present works within an interdisciplinary artistic approach addressing the questions posed.

In her live video installation Elena Cologni works on the concepts of movement/shift and how the image overlaps with our memories, whereas Turan Aksoy tries to create meaning and make connection with reality over space in his installation Deceit and Recollection. Inasmuch as the uncanny introduced by Karl Ingar Roys in Erna’s Video which seeks to address the tactical media and power structures.

Genco Gülan’s mixed media installation Whenever I hear a Plane… reflects the act of dislocation in an indelible manner that marks the haunted existential transience in its point of reference to 9/11. In the nerving sound of the video installation Run which is a portrait of repression and marginalization, Nasan Tur presents an essential characteristic disquieting atmosphere of the scene captivated in its otherness.

Shezad Dawood’s video piece Sunday Morning documents a Sunday ritual in the midst of trivial errands revealing anguish interventions where the ongoing problem of cultural difference and hybrid identity unfolds. In his neon light installation her işte bir HAYIR vardır Cegiz Tekin sets a metaphor for a pervasive sense of the transitory juncture in dehumanized automation within cultural specific conditions.

The de-contextualized ambiguity in tea, sunflowerseeds, kids, et al. and chocolate & créme de menthe towards vitality that brings the urban landscape to the surface, Dilek Winchester in her collaborative work creates a dialogue and fragmented narrative through a game which is inspired by psychodrama techniques where the work becomes a subtle and relevant validation on the associative sight of the unseen players.

Likewise the rigorously disembodied voice is an introductory glimpse of the root-less-ness as it appears in Sophia Kosmaoglou’s sound installation An Ideal for Living. The disembodied voice of the announcer carries us into a seemingly illogical and equally determinate assembly of enigmatic interpretation towards “subjectless subject” in its relation to the “politics of space.”

Yet what awaited the viewer encapsulated in another state of engagement at the totality of the exhibition. This is initiated with a specific kind of flow characterized by different artistic practice which begins to converge with the rhythmic flow of the articulated; the juncture of environmental stimuli and the divergent lines of encounter therefore encapsulated in the cultural immersion.

When considering 'territories of Duration', in turn, it gives a surrogate voice along to the borders that capture the dynamic force that lie beneath the surface of existential territories, and eventually yield to an overwhelming desire to an impulse: embrace the differential structures in transgressions at the edge of the location of emergence.


i. territories of Duration… curated by Gulsen Bal, 23 June – 15 July 2006 at Karşı Sanat, Istanbul

ii. where it was, shall I be… curated by Gulsen Bal, 24 September - 7 October at Keçiburcu, Diyarbakır

iii. Shaheen Merali, Please Give Agency a Chance Here. Text written for Focus Istanbul exhibition catalogue, April 2005, Berlin