Walker Art Center

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Capacity, 1998
Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin
Courtesy the artist, Istanbul, Turkey
Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin

Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin  b.1957  (Turkey)
lives and works in Istanbul, Turkey

launch interview with Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin

Trained in art and philosophy, Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin explores the narrow gap between the real and its reproduction, local realities and global fantasies, signifiers and signified, ideas and language, history and mythologies. He develops critical works that borrow the structure of language in order to analyze the phenomena of perception and the diffusion of knowledge. His works circle around the idea of signifying systems, their leeways and their limits in terms of translatability. His practice is rooted in historical precedents, including the international language of concrete poetry, which Alptekin appropriates in neon text, bending language and its untranslatability into something to be seen and something to be read.

His photo, text, and object collages, which often contain the cross-cultural detritus of world travel, reference common global anomalies such as cheap hotels with non-sequitor names of recognizable places and persons: Dallas, Tibet, Libya, Pele, Arafat, etc. Alptekin, a Baudelairian wanderer, creates symbolic tableaux--collaging language, objects, and images into an aesthetic of association that plays off of the tensions and heightened awareness that juxtaposition brings. He uses "coincidences," associative relationships, as a method to acknowledge that meaning is not in the structure of language itself but in the mind. Alptekin embraces the philosophical belief that the underlying principle that organizes meaningful systems is generated not by some inherent order to the world but by the subject and his or her own mind.

Alptekin was featured in Becoming a Place at Proje4L Istanbul Museum of Contemporary Art, Turkey (2001); the XXIV Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (1998); and the Fourth Istanbul Biennial (1995). He has had numerous solo exhibitions including Kriz: Viva Vaia at the Dulcinea Gallery in Istanbul (1999).

--Philippe Vergne

Ersen explores social behavior--the way identities are shaped and transformed across national, cultural, linguistic, and intimate borders. Whether working in photography, video, or installation, she often reacts to or uses the specific location of her activity in order to formalize her investigations.
[Minibars] are, in the words of the artist, "a utilisation of physical environment for an event [outside of the intent of] the builders, designers, and residents." These locations become places through occupation, use, and social relations . . .
. . . can our local practices survive their inherent unpopularity without the certain stamp of authority that comes from our thin participation in the global sphere?