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Ahmet Öğüt: Exploded City / MATRIX 231 (January 24 – April 11, 2010)
First Solo Exhibition in the United States of Turkish Artist Ahmet Öğüt
“This city is from the future. It’s called The Exploded City. Those who live there have emigrated from faraway lands, with dreams of traveling to the future. When they realized that there was no finding the future, they decided to build this city.”
– Marco Polo
Berkeley, CA, January 15, 2010 — (Download a PDF version of this press release.) Ahmet Öğüt’s first solo exhibition in the United States, Ahmet Öğüt: Exploded City, is an imaginary metropolis comprising buildings, monuments, and vehicles that have figured in acts of violence and terrorism over the past two decades. Structures from Turkey, Ireland, India, Yugoslavia, Great Britain, and the United States, among other countries, form a unified urban scale model, reconstructing these sites in the moments before they were destroyed. The exhibition, which runs from January 24 through April 11, 2010, is curated by Phyllis Wattis MATRIX Curator Elizabeth Thomas.
Originally commissioned for the Turkish Pavilion at the 2009 Venice Biennale, the installation is accompanied by a text situating the locations within a narrative that engages the poetics and politics of space, architecture, violence, and international relations. In so doing, the work directly channels writer Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, which detailed Marco Polo’s fantastical descriptions of the “invisible cities” he witnessed during his travels for the emperor Kublai Khan.
Although Öğüt’s work takes off from very real sites and symbols of terror, Exploded City is not a work of commemoration, but instead one of invention. Öğüt’s installation takes on the character of a fable, a deliberate conflation of fact and fiction. Its tone rejects moralizing, instead accepting the gaps and lapses between us, how the tragic is inscribed within the banal, absurdity injected within reality.
Öğüt’s metropolis presents visible but “semi-anonymous” buildings, whose intact form may be forgotten while the aftermaths of their destruction are seared into the collective consciousness via the media and individual consciousnesses via personal experience. The vehicles in particular reference Öğüt’s ongoing interest in distance, time, and speed, measures by which our relationship to reality is shaped and through which disparate lands are connected. The exhibition’s second work, the film Things We Count, pans slowly across the retired fighter planes at an airplane graveyard in Arizona’s Sonoran desert, as a voice counts them one by one in Kurdish, Turkish, and English. This counting, in the languages of faraway lands, connects the planes in their U.S. resting place to their actions in the larger world.
Öğüt recently had solo exhibitions at Künstlerhaus Bremen; Centre d’Art Santa Mònica, Barcelona; and Kunsthalle Basel. His work was also recently included in group exhibitions at Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw; De Appel, Amsterdam; New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; Malmö Konsthall, Sweden; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, the Netherlands; and the Berlin Biennale. Born in Turkey in 1981, Öğüt lives and works in Amsterdam. Upcoming solo exhibitions in 2010 include Museum Villa Stuck, Munich; Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig; and Artspace Visual Arts Centre, Sydney.
Related Program: There will be an artist’s talk on Sunday, January 24, at 3 p.m. in Gallery 1. Admission is free. A reception will follow.
Support: The MATRIX Program at the UC Berkeley Art Museum is supported by a generous endowment gift from Phyllis C. Wattis; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; and the continued support of the BAM/PFA Trustees. The presentation of Ahmet Öğüt: Exploded City was made possible in part by the Mondriaan Foundation, Amsterdam.
The Exploded City installation was originally commissioned by Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) as part of the Pavilion of Turkey, The 53rd Venice Biennale.
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