• Artist talk Ahmet Öğüt
Artist talk: Ahmet Öğüt

When the axis of the Hamster's wheel is lodged inside Sisyphus' boulder

Curatorial by Albert Heta

Artist talk: 13 June 2013, 20:00

For the Artist Talk, Ahmet Öğüt will talk about his works and the context that sorrounds them.

The first exhibition of Ahmet Ogut at Stacion - Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina and overall the first presence of his work in Kosova comes at challenging times and new realities not only for the artist and the geography of his origin but overall for all of us that continue to work for expanding or defending the public space and independent thinking as the basic signifiers and premises of a developing society.

Just few days before the exhibition, Turkey and the struggle for public space and political change became news once again and there were times when I doubted that the exhibition can happen as scheduled or if it should happen. But what is happening today in Turkey? How will these events influence not only the Turkish state but also the political developments that concern others that were oppressed not only in these past days but through ought the existence of the Turkish state. Are they concerned by recent events? Compared naively with our political position under Serbian rule, Albanians never would or did join any 'opposition' protest organized in Belgrade.

So why this solidarity now? Why times have changed and what made almost everyone living in Turkey come together? In many ways, the history of other suppressed ethnicities supporting the 'revolutionary' movements of the dominating ethnicity made me think of the history of the movement of Young Turks, described today as a secularist Turkish nationalist reform party in the early twentieth century, favoring reformation of the absolute monarchy of the Ottoman Empire. In the history books for primary schools one could read that the Albanian leadership, within the Ottoman Empire, supported this movement as they were promised to get the autonomy that allegedly was requested for long time ago. After the Young Turks overthrew the old regime through a coup and came in power, their regime 'betrayed' Albanians, once again. Maybe one cannot compare any of these situations. But history and ancient mythology that we know today, even though our history is changing continuously and is challenged even in present days, is still hovering around. 

Or is this less of a struggle for freedom and more of a struggle to have a right to protest.

Struggle for freedom would never call a struggle for liberation struggle for occupation. In real world, beyond protest, today we are under constant surveillance, we are named and labeled by those who read, hear and watch us 24hours, and in our midst votes as the remaining mechanism for power is harvested not only in village and cities but also among football fans, in my experience today's political groups that can also nurture extreme political ideas, but not only. Now we see cases when these groups can also rally to resist regimes in power.
But why the resistance is happening in park and for the park? I'm not talking about our park as our parks are being transformed into mini highways for walking people that don't like green in front of them or brown under them. Territory of our parks has been occupied for business long time ago. We cannot protest for our parks. 

What is happening in Gezi Park? What are they talking about? What will be their demands beyond the park? But again, what about solidarity? Can solidarity exist without emancipation and beyond liberation? And what is the function of art in a political crisis? If any?

The exhibition 'When the axis of the Hamster's wheel is lodged inside Sisyphus' boulder" is constructed through four works by Ahmet Öğüt: Oscar William Sam (2012), This area is under 23 hour video and audio surveillance (2009), 203 Mehmet YILDIZs (2009) and The Flying Brick Library (2013).

The Flying Brick Library is making it's presence at Stacion for the first time and is in reference to "mobile library" buses, this work is taking the name from radical lending library and community space in Oregon Hill in Richmond, Virginia which consist of a collection includes books, zines, periodicals, and other media about class, labor, feminism, queer issues, immigration, anarchism, DIY, health, fiction, biography, art, film, religion, travel, psychology, peace, communism, poetry, plays, revolution, energy, environmentalism, animal rights, disability issues, gender, economics, urban studies, education, race, civil rights, and more. The Flying Brick Library is a real scale Inflatable F16 Aircraft Balloon, sometimes invisible for the human eye. This work focus on the issue of being a civilian in conflict zones, and the difficult notion of education and culture in conflict zones.

Ahmet Öğüt is born in 1981 in Diyarbakir, Turkey, lives and works in Berlin, Istanbul and Amsterdam. Öğüt recently completed a year-long residency at Tate and the Delfina Foundation, resulting in the major ongoing project: the Silent University (2012). Öğüt recently had solo exhibitions at Künstlerhaus, Stuttgart; SALT Beyoglu, Istanbul; Fondazione Giuliani, Rome; Artspace Visual Arts Centre in Sydney and Kunsthalle Basel. Selected group exhibitions include the 7th Liverpool Biennial; the 12th Istanbul Biennial; the 4th Moscow Biennial; Performa 09 in New York and the 5th Berlin Biennial. 

He is winner of the 2010 Europas Zukunft prize from Museum of Contemporary Art (GfZK) Leipzig, the 2011 Volkskrant Art Prize, and 2012 The Special Prize of the Future Generation Art Prize. 

He co-represented Turkey at the 53rd Venice Biennale together with Banu Cennetoğlu.
The exhibition with Ahmet Öğüt at Stacion - Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina is part of the exhibitions program for 2103 and is part of the project 'Rethinking (Social) Space Program'. 

The work of Ahmet Öğüt in this context and for Stacion - Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina and our program, is important for the practice that is carries, for the time and political context, the importance of art, independent art institutions and independent thought as a significant indicator of the development of democracy and the particular social conditions. 

Every program module of the project 'Rethinking (Social) Space Program' is intertwined with the issue of social and public space, in the new time and geopolitical context, and aim to produce new social space for this scene and contexts, at a time when the tendencies to re-centralize and re-traditionalize thought and society are not limited to a particular context or place.

The exhibition 'When the axis of the Hamster's wheel is lodged inside Sisyphus' boulder' with Ahmet Öğüt is supported by: Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports of the Republic of Kosovo, Directorate for Culture, Youth and Sports, Technomarket, Ujë Rugove, x-print, DZG