“Proximity Sensors” - Hussein Chalayan at Galerist

By Cornucopia | March 3, 2011

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(Üzgünüm Leyla, 2010) Obviously, Istanbul Arts Diary was present for the opening of Hussein Chalayan's new show at Galerist; then again, so was what seemed like half of Istanbul. You were probably there, in fact. Masses of directional haircuts, overexcited people drinking soft drinks and crowd control issues made it feel more like a Berlin rave than an Istanbul gallery opening, but once we got past the horribly crowded entrance it was actually rather interesting. In the first room, Turkish pop star Sertab Erener performs the weepy classic Üzgünüm Leyla ('I am sad Leyla') backed by an Ottoman-style orchestra (above). This is accompanied by a lifesize model of Erener performing in the video, wearing a classic Turkish outfit as updated by Chalayan. Whether or not you immediately appreciate this as an exploration of cultural change, it certainly is interesting to watch. At the opening it was just too crowded to appreciate it, but on reviewing it later it made much more sense, looking at the multiple layers of history which come together in the performance. It coalesces the macro (hundreds of years of Turkish cultural history) into the micro (hundreds of Istanbul scenesters watching a video) into a way most artists can only dream of. Elsewhere in the exhibition are two new installations, "Imminence of Desire" and "Imminence of Change". The latter reworks memorable hairstyles and makeup of the twentieth century using computer graphics, lights and electronics, but it is the former which makes a much greater impact. An old-fashioned arrivals board, of the kind once found in train stations and airports, flashed up 150 of the names by which Istanbul has been known over the last few millenia. It may sound like just another contemporary art piece which is better in idea than practice, but it's actually a rather touching reminder of all the cultures which have had an attachment to this city and of the way in which it defies easy definitions. Now that the crowds are gone, this thoughtful exhibition is well worth visiting - especially, in fact, if you were there at the opening. İstiklal Caddesi, Mısır Apt. 163/4, Beyoğlu 34340, İstanbul. Entrance free. Until 26 March.

Posted in Contemporary Art Tagged galerist, hüseyin çağlayan, hussein chalayan, istanbul, mısır apartmanı, sertab erener
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