Critics’ Picks

View of “Reverse Corner,” 2013.

View of “Reverse Corner,” 2013.


Işıl Eğrikavuk

Egeran Galeri
Kemankes Mahallesi Tophane Iskele Caddesi No:12a Beyoglu
September 5–October 5, 2013

The title of Işıl Eğrikavuk’s latest project, “Reverse Corner,” denotes a football tactic in which the attacker fakes an approach, sending the goalie to one corner and the ball to another. The artist compares this to the footwork that has spun Istanbul’s recent Gezi Park demonstrations as an erratic clash of protesters and police—a dichotomy that presumes the latter is complicit in the orders they have sworn to enforce. Eğrikavuk does this by first marking out a field of play, carpeting the entire gallery in Astroturf. This field is manned by a tight cluster of police helmets hung at shoulder height near the entrance. Through the helmet’s speakers, visitors can hear the tale of the (expressly fictional) character of Ferit, an officer who originally trained to be an archaeologist but was unable to find work as one. Aspiring to the moral-compass model of television detective Behzat Ç, Ferit enlists in the police force, only to learn that to be an officer of the law one must set aside personal principles.

Ferit’s story is told again deeper into the infield, where a set of red bleachers faces a projection of Reverse Corner, 2013. The film riffs on a popular, highly orchestrated 1990s-era game show, rewarding phone-in contestants for goals scored by proxy, while the audience is distracted by cheap jokes and cheerleaders. One round’s contestant—again, introduced only as Ferit—refuses to play along with the spectacle, instead using the coveted airtime to tell his story. When the host tries to redirect the conversation, Ferit responds by offering his uniform for rent to those who think they understand what it might mean to work as an officer in contemporary Turkey.

This proposition is realized in Swap, 2013, a slim strip of grainy photographs suggesting surveillance footage or stills from a cell phone video. These images document a performance in which an unnamed civilian and a police officer exchange clothes in a public setting. Together, these works deliver a potent reminder that agents of the law are not the law itself, and that there are still citizens under the helmets in Taksim Square.