Metaphorical Space

MARSistanbul hosts the exhibition “Metaphorical Space”, May 10-June 3, 2018, with works by Ala Alhassoun, Keywan Karimi, Louis Henderson, Sibel Horada, Metehan Özcan, Neriman Polat, Özge Topçu, Pınar Öğrenci, and Selini Halvadaki.

Space is a conjunctive for thinking about politics - it can feed various spatial images into diverse political sensibilities. And metaphor deploys a creative image capacity by stripping the images from their original meaning to narrate in a different way. A good reason to think about politics through space is the impositions of systems of domination on spatial and temporal structures and the appearence of space as a tool of control. According to Hannah Arendt, we create a political field in addition to a field of action and articulation through political action. Arendt calls this area “field of appearance.” The field of appearance is always a field of potentials; just as in revolutions, potential can suddenly emerge or it can slowly develop over time, as in the effort to change a law or a policy. The city is a symbolic way of establishing time and space structures, place hierarchies, and forms of domination that are institutionalized and legitimized through the very structures and hierarchies.

The exhibition “Metaphorical Space” examines the relationship of social movements with space, authority, and memory. Similar to carnivals, collective movements take place when people from different ages, ethnic groups or classes take over the city for a short time. The city's squares appear to turn into a theater scene. What differentiates uprisings from carnivals, however, is that in uprisings, those in power, authorities and civilians confront each other; infringement of rights and spatial threats develop in parallel to each other. The power of politics traces its own cultural and political language on architecture and the city, while civilians continue to defend symbolic spaces that are held in esteem in the collective memory, and which are part of what Arendt calls “field of appearance.” The city is a now a stage for rematch. The reference point for the exhibition is Louis Henderson's “Day Before the Fires" (2012) video, inspired by the 1952 Cairo Fire, also known as the Black Saturday. The fire was the result of protests in Cairo that started off as an anti-colonial movement, causing a lot of damage, including the burning of the opera house, night clubs, shops and many other buildings that were deemed to be the symbols of the colonial and the West. Following the fire and the protests, the military reign and Nasr era began. Many historians have compared the Arab Spring in Tahrir Square to the Cairo Fire. ‘Metaphorical Space’ takes as a beginning point the urban space that has been the stage for cyclical social movements similar to that of Cairo for the action of “remembering”—forgetting is the illness of the twentieth century. ‘Metaphorical Space’ explores spatial stories from cities such as Athens, Cairo, Aleppo, Tehran, Izmir, all of which have been the stage for many oppositional movements spanning from the post WWI era - an era of nation and modern society building - to the present day. The exhibition opens a door to thinking about “metaphoric” meanings of space as an alternative to established ways of thinking about urban and architectural productions of form within the frameworks of war, revolution, colonialism, military regime and rebellion movements.

Pınar Öğrenci and Minou Norouzi have drawn the conceptual framework for, and organized ‘Metaphorical Space’.

*Mustafa Dikeç’, ‘Siyaset Üzerine Düşünme Tarzı Olarak Mekan’, Cogito, 84, Autumn 2016, 45-68.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Keywan Karimi’s “Writing on the City” will be shown at SALT Beyoglu on May 12, 2018.

Özge Topçu’s artist book “Alteration Museum” will be shared with public as part of the program "Researchers at SALT" at SALT Galata on 24th May.

Exhibition can be seen at 13.00-18.00 on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays till 3th June.

MARSistanbul is an independent art initiative founded by artist Pınar Öğrenci since 2010 and is supported by SAHA as part of “Grant for the Sustainability of Independent Art Initiatives 2017–2018”.

Mecazi Mekan exhibition supported by Austria Culture Forum Istanbul, Arts Council England, Openvizor, Seven Cerceve, SALT, Depo and IKSV.

Translation: Merve Ünsal