Good Morning in Torba starts at 2.53am in Portugal
CASA DELL ARTE
ART RESIDENCY #0.1
Artists: Bahadir Yıldız, Aylin Kanzik, Olcay Kuş, Nuno Henriques, Canna Ustaoğlu
Casa Dell'Arte International, Turkey
18.06.2011 - 13.07.2011
After spending almost twenty hours in airports, transfers and airplanes, I had finally arrived in Bodrum. I was very exhausted but too excited to just let me fall asleep. The sun had already disappeared and the sky was a deep dark blue... the sounds and smells that were emerging travel me to Algarve’s sierra. I took a bus to the art residence; everyone was there, the five artists and the person responsible for the art residence, who received me with a big smile. I had a chat with everyone, but my energy batteries were diminishing. I went to sleep.
Suddenly, I was awoken by the sound of good morning Torba.
A new day had arrived!
Ezan - Call to prayer, is an Arabic word meaning the one who calls to prayer, the Adhān. The person who sings Ezan is called müezzin.
Eşhedü enla ilahe illallah
Eşhedü enne Muhammeden resulullah
As-salatu hayrun mine’n nevm
La ilahe illallahü
God is Great
I testify that there is no god but God
I testify that Mohammed is His prophet
Come to pray
Come to salvation
Praying is more propitious than sleep
God is Great
There is no god but God
The Art Residency took place in one of most emblematic peninsulas of Turkey, Bodrum. Situated on the southwest cost of Turkey in the eastern Aegean Cost, it lies at 840 km from the city of Istanbul. Bodrum´s peninsula is known for having an amazing archaeological context, where we can find traces of ancient civilizations, as the Greek, converting it into one of the most privileged touristic destinations in Turkey. The name of Bodrum was given by the Greeks and means basement, cellar or dungeon in Turkish. In the last ten years this peninsula has suffered a tremendous transformation in its landscape, where constructions have been consuming more and more of its natural scenery, transforming this locality into just another place for tourism consumerism.
Torba, a small village located 8km from Brodum´s village was the place where this one-month Art Residence, a green zone inside a huge touristic complex, a villa with several two-story detached houses with private pool. This complex named GreenLife is advertised as the place where ‘Life is beautiful’. The spaces used by the residence´s programme were organized according to its necessities: one house was assigned for habitation and another for work (studios). These conditions proportionate a unique opportunity for exchanging experiences and interests, not only between themselves, artists or curator, as well as with those who passed by. During the first days, while still in an early phase where everybody was getting to know each other, I had the chance to organize a talk with all the artists, a chance to let the artists know more about each other’s work and artistic background, as well as to discuss ideas for the Art Residence #0.1. After this talk, it was clear what each artist was going to develop. Therefore the final exhibition or exercise, represented just a fraction of my work produced during this residence, which started by questioning where curating or the curatorial thinking stands in an artistic residence program where the curator loses some of its tools, namely the selection of the artists and their concept projects. In this program the curator’s main responsibilities, required by the Institution, were to plan the residence’s resulting exhibition and texts. Some questions were naturally raised, related with the curator´s role and the residence programme itself: Can the pre-delineation of the content and concepts by the institution, through the selection of the artists’ projects, condition the performance of the curator? What is the curator’s role in this kind of art residence with its associated premises? Is the curator’s role downgraded to the simple exhibition maker/organizer? What should be the appropriate curatorial strategy to be used? And what are the negotiations that might arise between the parties involved, and what should be their central focus?
According to Harold Szeemann “the curator has to be flexible. Sometimes he is the servant, sometimes the assistant; sometimes he gives artists ideas of how to present their work; in group shows he's the coordinator, in thematic shows, the inventor. But the most important thing about curating is to do it with enthusiasm and love - with a little obsessiveness.” We can then ponder about the different conditions of this Art Residence, which in its first year functions as a pilot-program, and where some of the premises are launched and presented with a critic’s eye whether in terms of its programming, scheduling, organization, content or placement. Some of the most important questions that might be brought to discussion are: How is possible to construct an audience in this particular context? Does the presence of this institution and artists create any impact on the local community? Should the institution have any obligation to introduce or offer something to the local community? Do the dichotomies of this environment, namely ‘isolation’ and ‘constant parties’ affect the artistic production? In what way could this residency be different from the rest? Should the residence be restricted to artists and/or curators of the Middle East and/or the Mediterranean territory? What should be offered and expected from the parties involved? What should be added to this art residence programme, in order to turn it into something more productive and interisland with all the part involved? What should be the period of each residence; is a month enough? Should the Art Residence necessarily lead to a presentation/exhibition? These are all issues that should be discussed, processed and analysed before embarking in the making of the following residencies. In practice, this pilot program should be use as a battleground, a case study for defining all the premises for the future programs, in order to learn from its downfalls and improve what needs to be improved.
This pilot program’s exhibition was organized according to a unique thematic. Here, the uniformities in terms of format or type are of no importance, the essence is the result of a working process, the act of thinking and doing art, limited to a time span and a place. This exhibition, ‘GOOD MORNING IN TORBA STARTS AT 2.53AM IN PORTUGAL’ took as exhibition space the Casa Dell’Arte boutique Hotel, and it was the result of a one-month partnership between the invited curator, and the five institution’s pre-selected artists. The terms of collaboration and negotiation were the premises of this curatorial art project, where the curator, the institution and the artists work side by side to create several ways of understanding, perceiving and questioning the place where they lived during that period. In this exhibition, it´s possible to see the product of the overlapping of several distinct ways of facing reality, since six ways of seeing, feeling and perceiving the surrounding environment of Torba, Bodrum’s Peninsula, or even Turkey, are presented. Some artists decided to create site-specifics works about the exact place where they lived, whether it is about the space itself or the everyday people who live in it and interact with them, as Nuno Henriques, Bahadir Yıldız or Aylin Kanzik. Others such as Olcay Kuş and Canna Ustaoğlu based their works in the mental perception of reality.
The exhibition ‘GOOD MORNING IN TORBA STARTS AT 2.53AM IN PORTUGAL’, extrapolates the gallery limits, by using different places throughout the Casa Dell’Arte boutique Hotel that previously had never been used to show an artwork. These “non-places”, un-predestined as exhibition’s areas, created new opportunities for recognizing the several potentialities that the space could offer. New dialogues and routes could and were created, adding new ways of perceiving the place itself, whether inside or outside the hotel, shifting margins and borders. Many areas that once were exclusively used by a specific group of people or were just transitory areas, are now connected through the route created for this exhibition. Therefore, the audience is instigated to cross-spaces to discover the several art pieces that make part of the exhibition, leading to a questioning of the limits or borders of the space, and where the private or public areas begin or end. This allowed an understanding of the place simultaneously as a center and a peripherally, as social and cultural, of working and leisure. This was well perceptible in the site-specific installation of Henriques: “Thank you for your kindness and good heart!" that was presented in an area exclusively used by the hotel´s workers. The video documentary, referenced above, presents the curator’s interviews to all the artists. Its main focus is to create a bridge of knowledge and recognition for this first art residency program, and becomes not only a fundamental tool of understanding what this period was for the artists but also a device to help the organization improve their following residencies programs.
Essay by Inês Valle, 2011
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