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reviews art without borders
Art without Borders
K arsi sanat, istanbul
21 novem ber – 8 decem ber
Of the many geographical umbrellas available to curators,
the Caucasus and its region, or in this case Turkey and
the countries that border its east, is an area that could well
do with some attention. Hosted previously by galleries in
Iran, Georgia and Armenia, Art Without Borders recently
completed its circuit at Istanbul’s Karsi Sanat. The
exhibition brings together a selection of works by 25 artists
from these four countries to create a space for dialogue
that rises above past conflicts and ongoing geopolitics. In
the accompanying exhibition text, project director Edward
Balassanian suggests that the individual’s role is becoming
more and more important in the construction of civilised
societies and that art allows individuals to cross borders and
instigate new forms of communication.
For an exhibition that aims to solve problems through
discussion, human contact, mutual understanding and
intercultural artistic development, too many of the included
works are past statements, produced for earlier exhibitions.
So while many of the selected works tackled similar topics
– cultural misinterpretation and the commodification of
human existence – rather than initiating a new platform for
exchange, the making of associations falls very much in the
lap of the audience.
Farhad Moshiri and Shirin Aliabadi’s series Operation
Supermarket (2005) provides an initial headline impact.
Their brash staged adverts for general household items
are digitally manipulated so that the commonly recognised
branding language presents a very different reality.
Described by the artists as ‘mixing poetry with detergent’,
the product labels read like ironic demonstration placards:
‘Shoot first, make friends later’; ‘We are all American’; and
on a Frosties cereal packet, ‘Families ask why’. Installed in
domestic settings, their kitsch-aesthetic textual disjuncture
is comparable to that of Halil Altindere’s photograph My
Mother Likes Fluxus Because Fluxus Is Anti-Art (1998). In
this everyday scene of the artist’s mother sitting at home on patterned floor cushions, the viewer’s immediate
moshiri Farhad, Families Ask Why,
2005, 75 x 100 cm
presumption to locate and cross-reference the scenario is dislodged by the copy of a Fluxus publication held courtesy the artist and Kashya
open in her hands.
hildebrand, Zurich
The cartoonish element of these images leads well into the more overtly political drawings of Nicky
Nodjoumi. Diary Series Installation (2006) is a compendium of symbolism in which Western and Persian political
figures are caricatured acting out absurd acts that tell tales of corruption and hypocrisy. Despite the disjointed
bodies that merge with those of animals to perform sexual acts and denote religious taboos, Nodjoumi’s comic
strip, in its immediacy like an editorial cartoon, locates one foot in reality. A converse position appears on the
opposite wall in Grigor Khachatrian’s One of You Will Betray Me (2006). This manipulation of Leonardo’s Last
Supper (c. 1496) fresco sees all the disciples’ faces subtly replaced by the artist’s own, supplanting the fear of
trust in national establishments with that of trust in oneself.
Although presented several times in Istanbul already, Ahmet Ogüt and Sener Ozmen’s Coloring Book
(2004) installs a moment of literal dialogue within the exhibition. Their line-drawn scenes, adapted from
childhood memory, depict engrained local customs, the effects of immigration and religious tension in Turkey.
When exhibited, the drawings are made available for the audience to colour in, write upon and, on this occasion,
bring about the layer of human contact that this exhibition really aims to initiate. November Paynter
129 Artreview
FEB_REVIEWS.indd 129 2/1/08 13:58:05
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