Critics’ Picks

View of “Burak Kabadayı: Static Shifts, Dynamic Rifts,” 2021.

View of “Burak Kabadayı: Static Shifts, Dynamic Rifts,” 2021.


Burak Kabadayı

AVTO Kazancı Yokuşu 39
November 11, 2021–January 8, 2022

Turkish car culture is the motor of this adrenergic yet tightly controlled show. In Static Shifts, Dynamic Rifts, 2015-2019, video artist Burak Kabadayı uses materials employed in the manufacture of Turkish automaker Tofaş’s iconic Doğan model, repurposing, for example, chrome-plated exhaust pipes to support LCD screens and positioning interior car lamps behind them to illuminate the gallery. In “Circle,” the first of three components of Kabadayı's installation, two simultaneous approximately six-minute videos capture a white Doğan from above and within as the car whirls around the Istanbul Park Racing Circuit, a track host to Formula One, GP2, and other global racing series. (Istanbul's local drifting community also frequents the venue, albeit with more modest vehicles.) In one of the videos, a bearded driver, using his left hand to steer, appears in the first frame. His military dog tag dangles from the rearview mirror, rattling to and fro in response to the Doğan’s movements. The drone POV highlights the contrast between the drab, obdurate concrete and the swirling car, evoking a mood of angst-ridden masculinity.

“Straight,” a triptych, follows a different route. Featuring a man who tries to drive a car while it is being towed, it dramatizes the dynamic between two conflicting velocities: the slow acceleration of the tow truck and the useless power of the Doğan, burning rubber while being pulled behind it, their respective kilometers per hour shown on each vehicle’s dashboard display. A third video ponders their coexistence from a remove. A cloud of smoke arises from the car’s futile attempt to drive on; it and its transport eventually disappear beyond the horizon. Experts at car customization and at pulling off impossible-seeming maneuvers, Istanbul’s auto racers seem to power this exhibition. Still, Kabadayı is the one in the driver's seat, deftly shifting gears between a fascination with friction and speed and a canny deconstruction of such thrills and intensities.