Born in Izmir in 1982, the artist is a graduate of Mimar Sinan University’s Faculty of Fine Arts. Since the early 2000s, his interest has mainly focused on processes of subjectivation at play against and within meta-narratives of history and politics. His multi-faceted practice ranging from drawing and canvas painting to sculptural forms, video and performance captures the material residues of history as components of collective memory. Historical sublimation and ideological constructs of social and political events are central issues in his practice. He investigates the monumental layers of ’memory’ ranging from official histories to individual stories, and he frames, within his art practice, the phenomenon of testimony beyond documentarism. His research-based practise is ‘historiographic’, in the sense that it figuratively excavates, reconstructs and reenacts the past. Since 2014, the artist realizes a series of performances around gastronomy, history and politics while he resides and works in Ayvalık.
Raz, dva, tri!
The triple rhyme of “Raz, dva, tri”, which means “one, two, three” in Russian, is used in Russian children's songs that teach counting as well as marking the marching rhythms of soldiers in the Russian army. The paradox between these two uses constitutes the departure point of the research. Based on this irony between childhood and military order, the project is shifted to a historical and (auto)biographical axis with the tale of the Soviet Union cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who became the first person to orbit the Earth with the Vostok spacecraft on April 12, 1961.
One of the building blocks of the project is the metal bust of Yuri Gagarin, which is included in the artist's collection, which features propaganda objects and photographs related to Soviet space studies found in flea markets after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This bust, with a total height of 17 centimeters and a dark patina, mediates the examination of the childhood hero as an ideological figure.
Besides a bust of Gagarin, the installation at SAHA Studio titled Raz, dva, tri! includes a children's book written by Krupskaya to describe Lenin, and a “Thinking Desk” on which various cosmonaut postcards, a set of dominoes adorned with Soviet space propaganda pictures, ephemera including an original photo of a cosmonaut, and a metal earth globe are placed. The globe, which is left open to the intervention of the audience, relates to the “limitless” imagination of children as it’s left bare of depictions of the continents or countries, as well as to Stanley Kubrick's 1968 science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey. This cinematographic reference also finds its place in the video work, in which the 3D modeled bust of Gagarin floats in space like a vehicle that has completed its ideological function. The acrylic storyboard-like patterns that accompany the video are also references to children's books. The charcoal portrait is modeled after Gagarin's plain bust, which was disseminated around the world with multiple productions, including the copy the artist owns, instead of the medal-winning photographs of Gagarin. The novel copy of the bust depicting Gagarin upside down as "fallen" to the world, offers new interpretations in today's world where national politics and global conflicts take different forms.
Raz, dva, tri is produced with the support of SAHA Association, within the scope of SAHA Studio program.