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24.9.–29.9. - Art Initiative: OPEN SPACE
PROJECT CURATORS: Gülsen Bal & Walter Seidl



12th September - 15th September 2019

OPENING: 11th September, 7 PM - 9.30 PM


Initiated and curated by Gülsen Bal


Participating Artists:

Mustafa Akkaya
Şener Özmen
Khaled Ramadan

Special Event:
Film- and Video-Screening: “From a Place of Darkness”

Participating Artists:

Jorge Galindo & Santiago Sierra
Servet Koçyiğit
Renata Poljak

Meeting Point: Pupil’s Hub Section
In collaboration with Arkin University of Creative Arts and Design (ARUCAD)

Istanbul Congress Center
Harbiye, Darülbedai Caddesi No:3

Coincides with the 16th edition of Istanbul Biennial 2019.

Open Space aims to bring diverse creative practices together to encourage exchange and joint projects with its visual arts programme within its long-established history in Vienna. This program designates the inter-relationship between creative practice and divergent lines of encounters in an engagement of creating a discursive platform for a variety of reflections of potential critical dialogues to facilitate new creative connections initiated by Gülsen Bal.

The programme covers three sections in which an exhibition is delivered in seeking for multi-facetted criticality by presenting different artistic practices by Mustafa Akkaya, Şener Özmen, Khaled Ramadan. There is a Special Event section showing the works of Jorge Galindo & Santiago Sierra, Servet Koçyiğit, Renata Poljak under Film- and Video-Screening: From a Place of Darkness, forcing us to rethink historical notions of progress and the inhibitions. Along the side, a Meeting Point section functions to create a platform for experimental practices in collaboration with the University of ARUCAD.

Mustafa Akkaya

Mustafa Akkaya

The imputed Power, 2018

Installation, various dimensions

Mustafa Akkaya employs particular facets in his most recent art practice with highly sophisticated sculpture-based 3D printed figures of ordinary people, animals, or objects, which are generally contrived elegant “yet potentially evil since they are strange and uncanny” regarding their multi-facetted tyranny of reality. His art works have the quality of bringing up what happens on most occasions or in most situations of declining hegemonic desire by revealing the symptomatic constructs of the sovereign risks of our time.

Akkaya’s newly produced installation work The imputed Power deals with an issue of exemptions that preludes the history of Cyprus' migration, which began in the 1950s and makes us face the arbitrariness of the buffer zone – also called ‘the Green Line’, a 180 km long strip of land dividing the island into two between the Turkish Cypriot community in the north and Greek Cypriot community in the south – which is marked by its unprecedented and relatively untouched landscape through featuring an unrealistic setting against an intrinsic resistance of processes.

Şener Özmen

Şener Özmen

On the Road, 2012

Hahnemühle Fine Art pigment print 120 x 180 cm

Şener Özmen focuses on the concepts of forced migration and displacement in his photographic work titled On the Road. Here, the artist portrays a migrating gymnast from the Middle East, on the road with his wooden suitcase packed with basic needs - dreams, hopes and memories of what he has left behind - practicing for a possible Olympic competition. When we look at the politics of a country like Turkey, traditional diplomacy disregards the present living standards of those belonging to nations unfamiliar to theirs. This all due to not only socio-cultural and socio-economic variables, but also to a fantastic historical background when it becomes involved. This situation could lead us having to regard the ideological view of even the greengrocer we buy our parsley from. Oriented towards Syrian Arabs living in Turkey, whether the foundation is economic, cultural - or normative -, or ideological, we can see that their habitat attracts violent reactions from every sector of society - from the neo-nationalist to the liberal, the leftist to the pan-Islamist. The issue with Syrians who have taken over cities is that although they seem as if they deserve the anger that is directed at another nation trying to survive within the same habitat, we also know that this can change at any time. On top of it, this ‘habitat’ situation in Özmen’s work is not only limited to certain cities in Turkey that have received heavy migration; the artist, having lived and produced in a cosmopolitan capital like Berlin, also recognizes that Turks, who spend their summer holidays in the coastlines of their motherland, aren’t warm towards the Arabs who have run away from war and moved to Berlin. The Turks approach the Arab immigrants with the apprehension that they are going to do exactly what they did in Turkey to beautiful Berlin.

Courtesy of the artist and Pilevneli Gallery
Edition 1 of 5 / Edition of 5 + 1 AP

Khaled Ramadan

Khaled Ramadan

RobOman - Empire of Silent Culture, 2016

Double-channel video installation, 27 min

Khaled Ramadan’s video addresses the notion of intellectual freedom, the Omani dream, and life between existing reality and what it is not. This project visually navigates between the parallel, sub-fictional lives in a dreamlike virtual space in which many Omani intellectuals choose to live, and the society without a dream that surrounds them.

Cultural activities in Oman are systematically monitored, restricted, and blocked by the regime - rendering impossible a sort of art and culture that could significantly affect contemporary social conditions by raising the awareness of issues that society may have trouble understanding and playing a crucial progressive role in further shaping said society, providing and producing knowledge, experience, and liberal participation. This has not been the case in the Arab world since the beginning of the post-colonial era, with most political and cultural activities under state control. There is no freedom of cultural or academic expression in Oman, and the government imposes exceptionally severe censorship in order to control the outcome of any cultural production or political activity taking place in the country. On January 17, 2011, three days after the success of the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia, unprecedented protests demanding political reform began in Oman. The government responded with a systematic crackdown on political and civil society activists, writers, bloggers, and journalists. And this crackdown now appears to have developed into an ongoing campaign of reprisals in Oman against all those who demonstrated peacefully in 2011 and 2012 in order to advocate socio-political reform.

Special Event

Special Event

A Selection of Status Artistic Survey: Film- and Video-Screening: From a Place of Darkness

With Jorge Galindo & Santiago Sierra; Servet Koçyiğit; Renata Poljak curated by Gülsen Bal and Walter Seidl

The film and video screening project From a Place of Darkness deals with recent phenomena in history that affect personal stories, which are sometimes deprived of any notion of progress and conjure up our innermost fears dating back to ancient times and pushing us to where we reluctantly, with a critical eye, face the fact that “an unexamined life is not worth living.” The general backlash against social progress coupled with increasing consequences of current global politics has led to different forms of crisis, which make the individual feel helpless and unable to actively engage in social processes.

In the collaborative video work Los Encargados by Jorge Galindo & Santiago Sierra, black limousines are seen driving on one of Madrid’s main avenues, like a funeral procession. The limousines carry upside-down portraits of several Spanish statesmen, a symbolic decapitation. After a while the video turns upside down, suggesting that the real and the political world cannot exist upright simultaneously.

The video can be read as a severe accusation of political corruption put in a poetic form, where the images depict a procession of seven official cars crowned with gigantic portraits placed face down and also painted in black and white by Jorge Galindo from official photographs. The first is of King Juan Carlos. It is followed by the faces of the presidents of the successive governments since the transition: Adolfo Suárez, Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo, Felipe González, José María Aznar, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and Mariano Rajoy.

In To Die For Servet Koçyiğit associates American popular music with a purely poetic vision of escape to a better world full of hope. The well-known song You’ll Never Walk Alone exemplifies the way in which music and artistic expression can, and has over centuries, created a universal unity of emotions among different peoples, countries and culture, reminding viewers of their social and personal histories.

Partenza (Italian for departure, and used in many of Croatia’s island and coastal dialects) is inspired by the contemporary tragedies of migrants at sea. Renata Poljak uses this phenomenon as a connecting thread and suggestively expresses the global insecurity of contemporary society and the fragility of human existence. Metaphorically, she addresses a story about departure, waiting and separation, dictated by migrations.

On various levels, the films and videos presented suggest different viewpoints on public, private, social and political issues, which force us to rethink historical notions of progress and the inhibitions imposed upon the individual, which is often prevented from acting freely and without dependence on the permission of an/other. This survey programme directly and indirectly addresses some of the issues about darkness that evolve out of these observations, which are treated on several artistic levels.

Meeting Point: Pupil’s Hub Section

Meeting Point: Pupil’s Hub Section

Arkin University of Creative Arts and Design (ARUCAD) is a university aiming to accommodate the creative art practices and art theories strands at the edge of not only multi-disciplinary approaches but the trans-disciplinary at its essential structure by a unique position with a primary focus on bringing different critical perspectives on art as well as creative processes with its dedication to the fields of art, design and communication founded in North Cyprus in 2017.


Bahire Akmandor; Tijen Erol; Behiye Aykız Koçanoğlu; Ali Ghorbani Moghaddam

The Open Space programme is supported by:

ARUCAD - Arkin University of Creative Arts and Design

The Status Artistic Survey: Film- and Video-Screening programme is supported by:

Stadtteilkultur, Interkulturalität und Internationale Angelegenheiten
Kulturabteilung (Magistratsabteilung 7) – Bildende Kunst, Vienna

Kind support:

Q21/ MuseumsQuartier Wien

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