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Halil Altındere


Halil Altındere is invited to the ninth edition of Berlin Biennale (4 June–18 September 2016) titled “The Present in Drag” curated by the New York based collective DIS, composed of Lauren Boyle, Solomon Chase, Marco Roso, and David Toro. SAHA provided support for the production of the new video work by Halil Altındere.

Halil Altındere takes a timely, topical, and often irreverent approach to questions of marginalization, repression, and political resistance. His projects have ranged from manipulating official documents and symbols such as passports and flags to creating a music video in collaboration with the hip-hop group Tahribad-i İsyan, who rap about inequality and gentrification in their Istanbul neighborhood.

Can art respond to a global situation as divisive and critical, and with effects so polarizing and shifting as the current migrant crisis? Blending realism and humor, Altındere’s new video “Homeland”(2016), shot in Turkey and Germany, incorporates scenes based on real-life footage to address the crisis engulfing Turkey and the globe. It opens with images of refugees crossing a border through an area peppered with landmines—and performing unusual feats to overcome fences. Other scenes highlight the contradictions that define refugee status, as voiced by Mohammad Abu Hajar, a rapper from Syria who is now based in Berlin. Hajar, the leading figure of the video, is shown rapping about his own refugee experience while riding on a boat passing under Istanbul’s third Bosporus bridge, a structure intended to connect the continents Europe and Asia but still under construction. In another scene hotel guests engaged in an outdoor yoga session watch a handful of approaching Syrian refugees and in yet another, refugees enjoy a ride on Dresden’s suspension railway. The video ends at Oranienplatz in Berlin-Kreuzberg, where refugees lived and protested in self-built tents for two years. In the context of Berlin, a refugee destination and a political center where Europe’s response to the crisis is forged, Altındere’s document uses the driving rhythm and street cred of rap to spotlight the experience of forced migration.

About Halil Altındere

Halil Altındere was born in 1971 in Mardin, and now lives and works in Istanbul.  Altındere explores political, social and cultural codes, and focuses largely depicting marginalization and resistance to oppressive systems.

Altındere has been a central figure in the Turkish contemporary art world since the mid-1990s, not only as an artist but also as the publisher of art-ist Magazine and as a prominent curator. The artist who reversed the conceptions of nation-state and authority through works on everyday objects like identity cards, banknotes, stamps in his early productions, started to focus on subcultures, gender and odd-but-ordinary situations of everyday life after the 2000s. His ironic and political approach can grasp the audience easily. His works have been included in exhibitions at documenta, Manifesta, and the biennials in Istanbul, Gwangju, Sharjah and São Paulo, as well as at MoMA/PS1, New York.

About the Berlin Biennale

The Berlin Biennale is the forum for contemporary art in one of the world’s most attractive and creative capitals. Taking place every two years at alternating locations throughout Berlin, it is shaped by the different concepts of well-known curators appointed to enter into a dialogue with the city, its general public, art audiences, and the artists in an international context. The 1st Berlin Biennale took place in 1998. It was founded with the initiative of Eberhard Mayntz and Klaus Biesenbach—founding director of the Kunst-Werke Berlin—in order to promote a representative and international forum for contemporary art in Berlin. Since the year 2004, KW Institute for Contemporary Art has been the supporting organization of the Berlin Biennale.