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Köken Ergun & Zeyno Pekünlü

Neither Forward nor Back: Acting in the Present

SAHA provided support for the production of the new works by the artists Köken Ergun and Zeyno Pekünlü participating in the Jakarta Biennale held between 15 November 2015–17 January 2016. The 2015 Jakarta Biennale carries the theme “Neither Forward nor Back: Acting in the Present”. With this theme, Jakarta Biennale seeks to concentrate on the present while refusing to indulge in nostalgia or escape into dreams of a future utopia. This perspective prioritizes works that focus on economic, social, and emotional conditions in the here and now, that portray how people in different cities and environments live with and take responsibility for the present through their actions.

Three further themes are present throughout the exhibition and connect different artworks. The first is the use and abuse of water, as a basic need of life and also as something threatening through flooding and pollution. Another significant aspect of the exhibition will be its interest in how history has an impact on today, though memories and traditions affecting how people behave now. A third strand will be the influence of imposed gender roles and how individuals struggle to find their own voice. The related issue of violence is also addressed. Throughout the exhibition, works have been selected that search for the small victories that people experience in daily life despite the difficulties.

Jakarta Biennale 2015 is curated by Charles Esche, who has made his mark in prestigious international art events such as Gwangju Biennale 2002, Istanbul Biennale 2005, and Sao Paulo Biennale 2014. He collaborates with six young curators from all across Indonesia: Anwar ‘Jimpe’ Rachman (Makassar), Asep Topan (Jakarta), Benny Wicaksono (Surabaya), Irma Chantily (Jakarta), Putra Hidayatullah (Banda Aceh), and Riksa Afiaty (Jakarta).

In addition to a number of exhibitions and art projects in city spaces, Jakarta Biennale also organizes supporting programs such as seminars, workshops, public education, and stage performances for all Jakarta’s and the world’s citizens.

About Köken Ergun

Born in Istanbul, in 1976, Köken Ergun studied acting at İstanbul University and completed his postgraduate diploma degree in Ancient Greek Literature at King's College London, followed by an MA degree on Art History at the Bilgi University. After working with American theatre director Robert Wilson, Ergun became more involved with video and film. His multi-channel video installations have been exhibited internationally at institutions including Palais de Tokyo, Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, KIASMA, Digital ArtLab Tel Aviv, Casino Luxembourg, Protocinema, Queensland Art Gallery, SALT and Kunsthalle Winterthur. His film works have received several awards at film festivals including the “Tiger Award for Short Film” at the 2007 Rotterdam Film Festival and the “Special Mention Prize” at the 2013 Berlinale. Ergun’s works are included in public collections such as the Centre Pompidou, Stadtmuseum Berlin and the Kadist Foundation. 

About Zeyno Pekünlü

Zeyno Pekünlü was born in 1980 in Izmir. She graduated from the Department of Painting at Mimar Sinan University, Istanbul, then continued to study for Master’s and PhD degrees at the same university. She has also completed a second Master’s degree in Artistic Production and Research in the University of Barcelona. Currently she works as a lecturer at Kültür University, Istanbul. In her works, Pekünlü explores the fragile meanings of the identities that society attributes to us. To highlight these identities she usually uses coincidental methods to reorganize the given symbols.