28 May – 17 July 2016
Artists: Sezgi Abalı, Patrizia Bach, Doğu Çankaya, Juliane Eirich, Benjamin Maus, Lara Ögel, Neriman Polat, Çağrı Saray, Elena Tezak, Andreas Töpfer, Bilal Yılmaz
The chronicler who narrates events without distinguishing between major and minor ones acts in accord with the following truth: nothing that has ever happened should be regarded as lost to history.
The exhibition project Past, in Each of Its Moments, be Citable – On Walter Benjamin’s Concept of History in the City of Istanbul invites six Turkish and five German artists to read, transform and address Walter Benjamin’s theses On the Concept of History in the city of Istanbul.
Under the initiation of the Berlin artist Patrizia Bach, the group has been reading and discussing the German philosopher’s writing since April 2015. Through collectively sharing their knowledge, experience with and approaches to the text, they have not only transferred Benjamin into the city but also conveyed his enigmatic writings into their own understanding of the here-and-now. During this process, Walter Benjamin’s text has been used as an entry point, tool, method, and critical authority in each artist’s practice.
The participating artists all search for hidden fragments in the city, the seemingly marginal and neglected. As ‘urban physiognomists’, they cite personal history and histories in constellation with generic traditional history, investigating individual and social needs for identity and consumption, craft, automatic production and the urban infrastructure of Istanbul today.
Through installation, drawing/illustration, photography, design, engineering, collaboration and artistic activism, the project not only reflects upon but also wishes to independently continue Walter Benjamin’s task of brushing history against the grain.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a day of artist talks, project presentations and an academic panel discussing the contemporaneity of Walter Benjamin’s work in the city of Istanbul.
Talks and presentations will be held in Turkish or English (as indicated). We will provide short translated summaries. All events are open for discussion in both languages.
Event coordination: Caroline Adler
Wednesday, June 1st
15:00 – 16:00 Benjamin and Material(ism) (TR/EN)
Research Presentation Crafting in Istanbul by Bilal Yılmaz (TR)
Conversation between Elena Tezak and Aslı Kıyak İngin (Made in Şişhane) (EN)
Bilal Yılmaz and Elena Tezak present their research on Craft in Istanbul. Crafted objects (their materiality and value), traditional crafting practices and their identifying character as well as displacement in the city play an important part in both the artists work and their research has become a body of work in its own right.
Elena Tezak invites the initiator of the “Made in Şişhane” network Aslı Kıyak İngin to discuss the role of local craft establishments for Istanbul’s design and production infrastructure, as well as strategies to make use of its potential.
16:30 – 17:30 Benjamin and the Urban Space (EN)
Artist Talk: Lara Ögel, Neriman Polat, Patrizia Bach, introduction by Caroline Adler
The artists Lara Ögel, Neriman Polat and Patrizia Bach in conversation with Caroline Adler on the the city of Istanbul as imprint of social action and as phantasmagoric site. The three artists discuss their individual approaches to the urban space (their movement within it) as well as their understanding and incorporation of Benjamin’s thoughts on history in each of the artist’s work.
18:00 – 20:00 Academic Panel Benjamin Now (EN)
Aslı Odman, Derya Özkan, Meltem Ahıska, Susan Buck-Morss
with an introduction by Aslı Odman Reading Benjamin in Turkey today
Aslı Odman (Mimar Sinan University, Istanbul), Derya Özkan (Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich), Meltem Ahıska (Boğaziçi University, Istanbul), and Susan Buck-Morss (CUNY Graduate Center, New York) discuss the importance and contemporaneity of Walter Benjamin’s work on history and the urban space, its critical implications, and, most importantly, what it means to read Benjamin in Istanbul today.
The panel will be open for discussion. The discussion will be held in Turkish and English.
20:30 – 21:15 Intervention (TR)
Project Presentation Adonyl Elixir by Sezgi Abalı, Reading by Melih Ziya Sezer
Adonyl Elixir departs from the medical collection and poems of the pharmacist Melih Ziya Sezer in the district of Kadıköy. Mr. Sezer’s poems, extracted from his anthology Bütün Şiirleri / All Poems (1949) become a guideline to Sezgi Abalı’s investigation into urban transformation of Kadıköy today.
The project presentation will be accompanied by a reading by Melih Ziya Sezer himself.