Invited by the SAHA Studio Selection Committee, Murat Alat is the resident writer and programmer of SAHA Studio throughout the year 2021.
The article series "Living Matter" focuses on the artworks, that investigate the potentials of the matter and go into its different states, among the projects supported by SAHA in the previous ten years. Concerning themselves with nonhuman perpetrators, these works render perceivable the movement and vibration inside the material structures of things rather than representing them. Such an effort, which can be realized sometimes with sound, sometimes with image and sometimes with the help of imagination, has aesthetical as well as ethical and political results. "Living Matter" is an exercise that endeavours to understand the structures of and reflects upon the possibilities of the policies created by the artworks developing different tactics with the aim of returning to things the place they deserve in the political field.
#06 catch the time
"Alas, we have no tool that can measure time properly. Clocks and calendars are only useful for counting their own rhythms. If we try to perceive the vastness of time, our numbers are not enough; if we try to catch a moment of it, it constantly slips through our hands because it is so small. We try to estimate a beginning and an end of time; but is time infinite and are all our efforts a reflection of our finiteness? While time stands still stretching out to infinity, is it we who decreasingly pass through it like a meteor scattered in the atmosphere? If the infinitely small and the infinitely large are equal to each other, if we cannot separate existence and nonexistence in infinity, we can listen to Carlo Rovelli who states that “time does not exist”; maybe time only consists of a relative relationship between events."
#5 dance with me
"Five straight lines with a length of a few arm spans, drawn parallel to each other with black on the white walls of the exhibition hall where there is no sound to be heard. It is a large-size music paper, as it were. And in the usual residence of musical scores, there are heavy cannonballs out of bronze, half buried in the wall. Each cannonball powerfully substitutes the musical scores as if they have bursted out of a cannon. A fanfare put down on paper, like those sweeping dramatic melodies played with wind instruments in palaces, in ceremonies. However, instead of being echoed on the walls of palace halls, this melody plays in the mind of the audience. It penetrates into the darkness of the flesh, silently vibrating the bodies. But how can a melody, which is quiet as a mouse but which can be perceived through the eye in need of distance, contact and move its addressee? I am looking for the answer of this question in Nevin Aladağ's work entitled Fanfare."
#4 touch me
"I can swear that what is in front of me, what my eye sees clearly is a marble slab. Yes, I can swear because not only my eye but all my sense organs, by means of my eye's deception, witness that it is a marble slab. I can feel its texture without even running my fingers on it, and can get its slightly salty taste without touching my tongue. But what I see here, what looks like having been taken out of the marble quarry with all brutality, crudely shaped and then taken from the stone workshop and placed in front of me, what has a whitish colour and unique bluish tempting veins is not marble. Or more precisely, it turns out not to be marble. I learn from a label attached to it that this work by Guido Casaretto is made out of wood and paint. This is a breaking point in the system that I assume to be true."
breath in, breath out...
"A nice landscape. The Horniman Gardens. Trees, shrubbery, flowers, water, air, and five thin metal pipes with their bright surfaces and flawless geometric forms, erected in the soil, reaching out to the sky, in contrast with the landscape. The wind is blowing; it is moving around the flowers, licking the water and enters into the strange pipes. The emerging humming noise reminds a human voice. Somebody breathes in, breathes out... Whose voice is this, whose breath? This installation which we are witnessing is called the Wind Organ. A work by Ali Miharbi. With inspiration from the musical instrument collection of the Horniman Museum, Miharbi has designed instruments that gather the wind blowing all over the place into vowels. These instruments played by the wind penetrate the bodies of those who are looking at the landscape where they are situated, and arouse uncanny feelings in the darkness of bodies."
#02 remember, remember, remember the water
"A dry, idle cistern. After all, houses that are in need of the water held by the cistern have been long since meeting their needs by means of the extremely complicated waterworks offered by the state. This building is now only a historical artifact, a museum. It incompletely tells to its visitors about what has happened to it. But how much can a waterless cistern tell about itself? All along the passages of the cistern, there is a long, blue net installed on wooden scaffolds at a height surpassing human body height. This net reminds us the water that was once there, was nourished by rains and used by the people in the neighbourhood. Now a dynamic mass that has remained in memories. When we enter the cistern, it feels as if we are under the water. When we lift our heads, we see the blue net substituting the water that was once there. Instead of the stars that we would look at in order to determine the direction to where we go and to be informed about our future, there is a blue net and floor tiles caught in the net. The past comes over us; we remember."
#01 “I Want To Believe”
"Banu Cennetoğlu and Yasemin Özcan have produced two works in 2010 and 2013 as a result of a collaboration with the Body Energy and Balance Consultant Zeynep Sevil Güven. The first work entitled Dumping into Cosmic Trash was produced for the Second Exhibition at Arter, which focused on institutional criticism, while the second work entitled What is it that you are worried about?, which can be considered as the rehandling of the same work in a different context, was produced for the Project Biennial D-0 ARK Underground held in a bunker in Bosnia-Herzegovina. This article will focus on the latter of these two works, which have similar basic structures, and discuss the strategies applied by the artists."
Murat Alat (1983, İstanbul) graduated from İstanbul Bilgi University Cultural Studies MA program. From 2007 to 2015 he worked as project coordinator and exhibition manager in İKSV, Arter and Salt. Since 2015 he has been writing texts on contemporary art and organising workshops, seminars and education programs. He is still writing for Art Unlimited on a regular basis and working as a consultant for Visual Art Projects of the Municipality of Nilüfer, Bursa. He is also programming “Açık Seminer” which is a research and public education programme being held under the roof of Saint-Joseph High School in collaboration with the art initiative Poşe. He studies philosophy and psychoanalysis and thinks on the conjunction of politics, ethics and aesthetics.