Critics’ Picks

Özgür Kar, it is all in his head, 2020, two looped 4K videos with sound, 35 minutes, two 75“ televisions, television stands, media players, extension cords, 77 1/8 x 75 5/8 x 27 1/2”.

Özgür Kar, it is all in his head, 2020, two looped 4K videos with sound, 35 minutes, two 75“ televisions, television stands, media players, extension cords, 77 1/8 x 75 5/8 x 27 1/2”.

Paris

Özgür Kar

Édouard Montassut
61 rue du Faubourg-Poissonnière
February 13–April 11, 2020

On a recent winter afternoon, when the light had already waned, I nearly mistook the dim, opalescent hue in the center of this gallery—a whitish screensaver glow—for moonlight. Two large TV screens stand on opposite sides of the room, each of them displaying a line drawing of a male figure who appears against a black, womblike void: a guy under the influence and it is all in his head, both 2020. Linger long enough, and they’ll move, if only imperceptibly so. While these potential twins—their postures fetal and horizontal, respectively—appear deeply asleep, their limbs are too tightly nested inside the frame of the screen to suggest anything like comfort, and the light too cold to retain the initial lunar association. For a few years now, the Turkish-born artist Özgür Kar, currently a resident at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, has developed a series of digitally animated loners, their twitches scored by drawn-out, elegiac musings that melt into pads and jingles. Some, like A New Start or At the End of the Day, both 2019, have soundtracks as long as fifteen minutes, their lyrics deployed less to convey a specific meaning than for their phatic function of maintaining contact—like a Captcha confirming you are human.

“A Decade of Submission” is Kar’s minimal debut at this gallery, and follows his strong solo presentation at FIAC 2019. Here, the sound is tuned down to inarticulate grunting, wheezing, and humming, and the emphasis on installation foregrounds the physical presence of these bodies: their gravity, their monumental fragility, and, surprisingly, their fleshiness—skin gathers under their arms, sags between their legs. Peeling away clichés such as the mediated self or late capitalism’s assault on sleep, Kar offers a pared-down vision of human life at its lonely core.