2009 Venice Biennial Turkish Pavilion delves into concept of ‘LAPSE’

Curator Başak Şenova’s project, “Lapses,” which is going to be showcased in the Turkish Pavilion during this year’s Venice Biennial, was introduced to the press this week by Şenova and artists of the exhibition Ahmet Öğüt and Banu Cennetoğlu.

Şenova explained that the word “lapse” connotes numerous verbs and nouns in English, yet there is no one word that corresponds to it in Turkish. “A lapse in the linear and continuous flow of time implies either a sense of disorientation or a disconnection with our personal surroundings. Only by recognizing such a lapse do we realize our ability to restructure memory in the space and time continuum through an uninterrupted flow, with afterimages that recur by narrations and our senses,” she said, adding that the whole project is based on reconstructing the memory again and again by remembering the past.

The project will be realized through Cennetoğlu’s “Catalog,” and Ögüt’s “Exploded City.” “Both shows reveal the possibility for diverse memory formations — or diverse narratives — conceivable through lapses,” the curator elaborated. Cennetoğlu’s photographs are presented in the form of a performative “mail order catalog,” where hundreds of photographs are classified under subjective categories. All of the photographs from the mailing catalog can be downloaded for free exclusively during the duration of the Venice Biennial. “Rather than selling my works for higher amounts, I chose to give them away for free, so, in a way, the audience will be rewarded when they go home,” she said, explaining the reasoning behind her work.

Ögüt’s “Exploded City,” on the other hand, traces buildings that have recently been the site of a crucial event and have turned into ruins. It presents a model city by referring to the original architectural features of each building, questioning the significations and values attributed to these buildings before and after the explosion, while detecting lapses that occur in our memory via media images. Öğüt explained that his inspiration for his work was from the Italian author Italo Calvino’s novel, “Invisible Cities.”

Along with the project, a three-volume book series was also introduced during the press conference. “This is an attempt to document the development phase of the project by congregating our sources, projects, plans, experiences and thoughts. It certainly is not a book series on how to read the works, but evidence of the process that has shaped the project,” said the curator.

Edited by Şenova, the first volume of the series can be considered as the catalog of the exhibition. It explores the conceptual framework, the artwork and the insights on the overall production process. The second volume, edited by Jalal Toufic, includes philosophical essays by William C. Chittick, Jalal Toufic and Paul Virilio, which looks into the concept of lapses with depth and from different points. The second volume constitutes the source of the influence for the entire project, along with a variety of quotes inserted between the essays.

The third volume, again edited by Şenova, features four case studies discussed within the conceptual framework of this project: “Park Hotel” by Ceren Oykut, with contributions by Gökhan Akçura, Korhan Gümüş, Cem Sorguç and Levent Soysal; “Postcapital” by Daniel García Andújar with contributions by Iris Dressler and Hans D. Christ; “Kriegspiel” by Mushon Zer-Aviv and Alex Galloway; and “Master Plan” by Yane Calovski, accompanied by short interviews by Şenova.

The 53rd Venice Biennial will take place from June 17 to Nov. 22 this year. The Turkish Pavilion’s exhibition is organized by the İstanbul Foundation for Culture and Art (İKSV) with contributions from the Turkish Prime Ministry under the auspices of the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

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