Gökcan Demirkazık

  • “NIL YALTER: EXILE IS A HARD JOB”

    Curated by Rita Kersting

    For Nil Yalter, the Paris-based pioneer of video art, geometric abstraction has served as an unlikely but loyal companion to her proto-intersectional politics bridging feminist, migrant, and labor movements. This exhibition at Museum Ludwig, slated to be the largest survey of the artist’s work to date, will spotlight Yalter’s groundbreaking work from the late 1960s and the ’70s, most notably the rarely seen abstract paintings executed soon after the Turkish artist moved to Paris in 1965, thus sparking a transformative period for her practice. “Exile Is a Hard Job” takes

  • picks November 09, 2018

    “That Is Water, That Is Earth”

    Named for the port district in which it’s located, Marfa’ Projects is awash with waves for the third time in as many years. Following Tamara Al-Samerraei’s wistful paintings of shores from 2014–15 and Caline Aoun’s twenty-four-hour live stream of the Mediterranean Sea from the largely inaccessible port (Seascape, 2016), Istanbul-based artist Hera Büyüktaşçıyan has unleashed a regiment of diminutive wavelike structures in the gallery space (The Wanderer’s Storm-Song, 2018). These waves are in fact pillowcases that appear to be getting rolled up by invisible hands. Each one stands on a humanoid

  • picks October 19, 2018

    “Heavenly Beings: Neither Human nor Animal”

    “An underground kingdom that was considered hell is even a special department within the museum,” wrote the Russian Cosmist Nikolai Fedorov in 1906. One interpretation of this department is currently on display in this exhibition, fully equipped with well-known footage of a chained performance artist incarnating a feral dog (Oleg Kulik, Dog House, 1996) and a video of an audience voting on the death of a chicken (Janez Janša, Pupilija, Papa Pupilo and the Pupilceks—Reconstruction, spectator's vote, 2006). The works are united in their collective assault against “nature”—which the Slovenian poet

  • picks March 12, 2018

    Francis Alÿs

    A cryptic question appears in one of Francis Alÿs’s many studies for Tornado, 2000–10: “What relationship can one build with a tornado?” The words “pure present,” hastily scribbled underneath, are far from a full-fledged response but offer an important clue for understanding the microcosm that is the artist’s first solo exhibition in Lebanon. Above all, the phrase suggests an unadulterated sense of being in the moment, the pursuit of a self momentarily yet perfectly suspended, or, in the words of art historian Michael Fried, the “primacy of absorption.”

    To what end does (self-)absorption function

  • picks February 20, 2018

    Khalil Rabah

    Despite swelling regional unrest and economic stagnation, the museum boom of the former capital of Arab letters lingers on with Khalil Rabah’s Broodthaersian fictional enterprise, “The Palestinian Museum of Natural History and Humankind,” 1995–. For its most comprehensive presentation in Beirut, the museum debuts a new installation within the Anthropology Department, in addition to bringing together new and old works in all four wings.

    Rabah’s project has long moved on from being a tongue-in-cheek museological intervention aimed at introducing a voice and narrative for compatriots who lacked such

  • picks October 30, 2017

    Jasmina Cibic

    Jasmina Cibic’s work resembles a private eye’s attempt to re-create a crime scene in order to arrive at its punctum—a tell-all feature that pricks in the Barthesian fashion. To this end, she does not actually blend fact and fiction but instead transposes historically and formally related realities.

    In the video The Pavilion, 2015, performers restage Dragiša Brašovan’s razzle-dazzle Yugoslavian pavilion from the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition with scaled modular blocks, taking cues from the site plan and the few extant archival photographs of the grand undertaking. For the interior,

  • picks September 25, 2017

    “Singular/Plural: Collaborations in the Post-Pop-Polit-Arena”

    Sigmar Polke was once a beautiful mermaid with a tail made of snakeskin-patterned fabric. In a photograph by Bernd Jansen from 1973, this iconic figure of postwar German art is seen sprawled across a floral carpet in a gentle curve that complements his reverie. Staged at Willich, near Düsseldorf, where Polke lived and produced work collectively with artists including Mariette Althaus and Achim Duchow (sometimes under the name “Polke, Duchow & Co.”), this mise-en-scène captures the gender-defying, psychedelically inclined, and communally driven young art scene of Düsseldorf’s punk 1970s—the

  • picks July 26, 2017

    Raymond Pettibon

    Raymond Pettibon has a habit of painting large murals for his solo shows, and this one is no exception. Organized by the same curators who put together the artist’s retrospective at the New Museum earlier this year, this exhibition opens with an untitled expanse featuring Pettibon’s emblematic surfers—stormy metaphors contending with waves of ontological hurdles—hovering between water and clouds. Rendered with the same color palette and scratch-like brushstrokes, both natural forms blend together, pointing to the malleability and openness of meaning in the artist’s pictorial language. Such

  • picks April 20, 2017

    Hera Büyüktaşçıyan

    Writing on marble is not easy, but the title of Hera Büyüktaşçıyan’s latest solo exhibition, “Write Injuries on Sand and Kindness in Marble”—a proverb found in many cultures, including Gulf countries and France—seemingly ignores this fact. In fact, marble emerges as a deceptively attractive menace, an elusive signifier of slippery semiotic value, in such works as Chanting if I live, forgetting it I die, 2016, a kinetic sculpture that features a row of moving piano-key-like off-white marble slabs on a simple plank of wood. Compared to an earlier, larger wooden version twice exhibited in Istanbul,

  • Sarkis

    Sarkis deals with signs of living and living signs. It is not unusual to hear that his light boxes are kept lit beyond an exhibition’s opening hours, or that he agonized over a brief planned power cut for the maintenance of Respiro, his installation for the Turkish pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale. Not simply the caprice of an established artist, these particularities stem from his decades-long engagement with memory theory, which took center stage at this show, “Ayna” (Mirror), cocurated by the artist and Ceren Erdem.

    For the occasion, The Treasure Chests of Mnemosyne, the 1995 anthology on

  • slant December 02, 2016

    On the Ground: Istanbul

    NOT LONG AFTER FIGHTER JETS BEGAN DROPPING SONIC BOMBS, I decided to go to bed. It wasn’t my apartment.

    On July 15, 2016 the night of Turkey’s attempted coup d’état, I was at a friend’s house party in Galata. From the building’s terrace, which commands otherwise delightful views of the historic peninsula, everyone was trying to glean a hint of what was happening. When that did not work out, Twitter feeds and live TV had face-offs on multiple cell phones, only to be interrupted by worried relatives’ calls and streams of tears. On one screen, I saw President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on FaceTime with

  • picks October 24, 2016

    Yasemin Özcan

    “Dead-End of Bliss,” Yasemin Özcan’s first solo presentation at this gallery, is an object-theater of sorts that funnels mostly domestic objects into a Duchampian freeze, transforming their homely associations into uncanny proposals for survival in modern Turkey.

    A quote from Brian Friel’s 1980 play “Translations” is incorporated into the title of Özcan’s To Remember Everything Is a Form of Madness 2/40 (all works cited, 2016): These words appear in Turkish on three ceramic tiles among a horde of others that are predominantly pink, cream, or floral patterned. Each tile serves as a metonymic device