Critics’ Picks

View of “Der Himmel über Berlin,” 2018.

View of “Der Himmel über Berlin,” 2018.


Çağrı Saray

Pilot Gallery
Sıraselviler Caddesi No.83/2
November 8–December 15, 2018

Since the mid 2000s, Çağrı Saray has been obsessed with Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire), the 1987 film by Wim Wenders. Damiel and Cassiel, the film's angel protagonists who watch and eavesdrop on the Wall-divided city from above, flutter around Saray's meditative exhibition. In the video installation Homage to Peter Handke, 2018, Saray reshoots the opening scene, his hand translating the first lines of Handke's script into Turkish. In That night , 2018, he plasters a set of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds posters on the gallery wall, reenacting a key moment in the film, when Damiel meets the trapeze artist for whom he trades his immortality. And Damiel's armor, 2018, reproduces the broken armor Damiel finds next to him when he falls to earth.

But Saray's works resist film-school geekiness; they don't fetishize the angels of the Wenders film but rather endeavor to reenact their gaze, in all its empathic searchingness. In methodically drawn lines, 3 Asylum / Berlin State Library, 2015, a light box, uses one-point perspective to map out the interior of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, where, in the movie, the angels peek into readers' minds. The drawing Transformation, 2017, repeats Damiels's out-of-body experience in black verticals of varying width. The dizzying effect nicely illustrates his transformation from celestial to terrestrial. But it is Radio Station, 2013, which projects the image of an angel circling the Berliner Funkturm onto a canvas with airbrushed clouds, that steals the show. The installation sums up Saray's engagement with recurrence as an aesthetic concern and pays immersive homage to Wenders and Handke's enduring vision.