Opening: 5th of December 2015 at 17.30 h
With contributions by Ricardo Basbaum, Sanja Iveković, Gülsün Karamustafa, Yuri Leiderman & Andrey Silvestrov, Yasmine Öczan, Johannes Porsch, Felix Sobolev, Haim Sokol, Mikhail Tolmachev
An exhibition project curated by springerin in cooperation with Depo Istanbul
springerin – Hefte für Gegenwartskunst is a quarterly magazine dedicated to the theory and critique of contemporary art and culture. Based in Vienna, Austria it has been running since 1995 when its first issue came out. On the occasion of springerin’s 20th anniversary, a series of presentations in various locations provides glimpses of the history of the magazine and tries to develop prospects for the future. The last of these presentations, taking place at Depo, is an attempt to generate links between a condensed version of the magazine’s history and the particular context of Istanbul. While the journal, due to its nature as a print medium, is confined to the format of text and image, the presentation at Depo is specifically adapted to the exhibition space.
Thematically, it addresses the context circumscribed in the October 2015 issue titled Kiev, Moscow and Beyond which was produced in connection to “The School of Kyiv” Biennial. Taking a critical look at cultural and political geographies at the eastern margins of the European Union, the issue was focused on the role of contemporary art might within an environment of political conflict, violence and ethnic/nationalist rivalry. One of the primary questions being how a constructive dialogue between art and civil society can be initiated—one that will foster intellectual and artistic exchange beyond any simplistic national framework.
The particular setting of the exhibition, conceived by artist/designer Johannes Porsch, is a version of the so-called “springerin Mobile Library,” which has been used on other occasions in Vienna, Budapest and Bregenz (Austria) before. It is both as display unit for the magazine’s backlist since 1995, and functions as a model exhibition space for selected artworks chosen around the specific thematic focus.
Within that selection, several works commissioned for, or recently shown at the Kiev Biennial stand out. Mikhail Tolmachev’s installation Line of Site consists of a series of photo etchings based on photographs from Russian and Ukrainian agencies, representing artillery positions amidst the conflict in the Donbass region. By contrast, Yuri Leiderman’s and Andrey Silvestrov’s film Odessa. Fragment 205 stages an action akin to a political manifestation or church procession in the streets of Odessa, shot through with an absurdist poetics and political disenchantment. A somewhat related vein is pursued in Ricardo Basbaum’s collective-conversation (The School of Kyiv), an audio arrangement of different voice ensembles: co-authored, the workshop-produced scripts put forth a rhythmic proposition of different voices and languages. Finally, a fragment of Felix Sobolov’s documentary Seven Steps Beyond the Horizon (1968) provides a historic glimpse of the “Kyiv school of scientific cinema.” Intertwined with these examples from the more immediate Kiev/Moscow context is a series of recent works by Gülsün Karamustafa, Sanja Iveković, Haim Sokol, and Yasemin Özcan. In Özcan’s video Run, we see the artist run next to the empty tribunes of Atatürk Olympic Stadium; what first appears to be a competitive race against a smoothly dressed woman finally reveals a process of running “together-apart.” Taking on the difficult issue of individual/collective representation, Sanja Iveković’s Why an Artist Cannot Represent a Nation State is structured along a dialogue between Rada Iveković, a philosopher and feminist, and the deaf actress Isabelle Voizeux. Based on a performance, the video tackles “the impossibility and yet the inevitability of representation.” Finally, Haim Sokol’s On the Concept of History takes up Walter Benjamin’s famous work of the same title and connects it with current issues. In the posters, inscribed with quotes by Benjamin, both historical figures and anonymous victims of recent post-Soviet military violence are depicted.
Together, these works—in combination with the springerin back-catalogue and the most current (international) issue—testify to a multi-faceted discursive, politically inclined endeavor that has been characteristic of the magazine throughout its 20 year history.
Supported by Bundeskanzleramt Österreich and Österreichisches Kulturforum Istanbul / Avusturya Başkonsolosluğu Kültür Ofisi