E-Issue 07 –– AUH
Winter 2023-24

January 29th, 2024

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in Abu Dhabi/Dubai
  3. Cover Interview: Shaikha Al Ketbi on Darawan
  4. Rapport: Public Art in the Gulf and a Case Study of Manar Abu Dhabi
  5. Hashel Al Lamki’s Survey Exhibition Maqam Reflects on a Decade of Practice in Abu Dhabi
  6. “You Can’t Stand on a Movement”: Michelangelo Pistoletto Interviews Benton Interviewing Pistoletto

Winter/Spring 2024

Exhibition Review July 16, 2024
PAR See Me With Them Hands: Reviewing Giovanni Bassan’s “Private Rooms” at Sainte Anne Gallery

Curators Interview May 14, 2024
AUH Embracing Change through an Open System: Maya Allison and Duygu Demir on “In Real Time” at NYUAD Art Gallery

About ––

    What We Do
    Editorial Board

Interviews ––

    Selected Archive

Open Call ––

    E-08 Seoul

Newsletter ––

Chronological Archive ––

    Selected Archive

Artist Interview November 18th, 2016
AUH Raed Yassin in Abu Dhabi

Editorial March 1st, 2018
AUH Abu Dhabi Is The New Calabasas

Exhibition Listing May 22nd, 2018
DXB Christopher Benton: If We Don't Reclaim Our History, The Sand Will

Artist Interview June 15th, 2018
TYO An Interview with BIEN, a Rising Japanese Artist

Artist Interview July 17th, 2018
TYO Rintaro Fuse on Selfies and Cave Painting

Artist Interview August 28th, 2018
BER Slavs and Tatars: “Pulling a Thread to Undo The Sweater”

Artist Interview September 1st, 2018
NYC Shirin Neshat In Conversation with Sophie Arni and Ev Zverev

Artist Interview September 1st, 2018
PAR Hottest Spices: Michèle Lamy

E-Issue 01 –– AUH/DXB
Summer 2020

August 1st, 2020

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in the UAE
  3. Pop(Corn): Hashel Al Lamki
  4. Tailoring in Abu Dhabi
  5. Rapport: Dubai
  6. Michael Rakowitz From the Diaspora

Fall/Winter 2020-21

Artist Interview August 23rd, 2020
LHR/MCT Hanan Sultan Rhymes Frankincense with Minimalism

Artist Interview August 24th, 2020
DXB Augustine Paredes Taking Up Space

Artist Interview August 26th, 2020
AUH Sarah Almehairi Initiates Conversations

Market Interview August 28th, 2020
AUH/DXB 101 Pioneers Ethical and Curious Art Collecting

Exhibition September 1st, 2020
DXB Alserkal Arts Foundation Presents Mohamed Melehi

Market Interview September 4th, 2020
DXB Meet Tamila Kochkarova Behind ‘No Boys Allowed’

Artist Interview September 7th, 2020
DXB Taaboogah Infuses Comedy Into Khaleeji Menswear

Artist Interview September 10th, 2020
LHR/CAI Alaa Hindia’s Jewelry Revives Egyptian Nostalgia

Curator Interview September 14th, 2020
UAE Tawahadna Introduces MENA Artists to a Global Community

Exhibition Review September 24th, 2020
MIA a_part Gives Artists 36 Hours to React

Artist Interview September 27th, 2020
AUH BAIT 15 Welcomes New Member Zuhoor Al Sayegh

Market Interview October 14th, 2021
DXB Thaely Kicks Off Sustainable Sneakers

Exhibition Review October 19th, 2020
DXB Do You See Me How I See You?

Exhibition October 22nd, 2020
TYO James Jarvis Presents Latest Collages at 3110NZ

Exhibition Review October 22nd, 2020
AUH Ogamdo: Crossing a Cultural Highway between Korea and the UAE

Book Review October 28th, 2020
DAM Investigating the Catalogues of the National Museum of Damascus

Exhibition Review November 13th, 2020
Kanye Says Listen to the Kids: Youth Takeover at Jameel Arts Centre

Exhibition Review November 16th, 2021
DXB Melehi’s Waves Complicate Waving Goodbye

Exhibition Review November 19th, 2020
DXB Spotlight on Dubai Design Week 2020

Exhibition Review November 21st, 2020
DXB 101 Strikes Again with Second Sale at Alserkal Avenue

Exhibition Review
November 23rd, 2020

AUH SEAF Cohort 7 at Warehouse 421

Exhibition Review December 9th, 2020
SHJ Sharjah Art Foundation Jets Ahead on the Flying Saucer

Curator Interview January 25th, 2021
DXB Sa Tahanan Collective Redefines Home for Filipino Artists

Exhibition Review February 21st, 2021
GRV MIA Anywhere Hosts First Virtual Exhibition of Female Chechen Artists  

🎙️GAD Talk Series –– Season 1 2020

November 1st, 2020
1. What is Global Art Daily? 2015 to Now

November 16th, 2020
2. Where is Global Art Daily? An Open Coversation on Migration as Art Practitioners

November 29th, 2020
3. When the Youth Takes Over: Reflecting on the 2020 Jameel Arts Centre Youth Takeover

December 20th, 2020
4. Young Curators in Tokyo: The Making of The 5th Floor

January 27th, 2021
5. How To Create Digital Networks in The Art World?

E-Issue 02 –– NYC
Spring 2021

February 21st, 2021

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in NYC
  3. Pop(Corn): Zeid Jaouni
  4. You Can Take The Girl Out Of The City
  5. Rapport: NYC
  6. Kindergarten Records Discuss The Future of Electronic Music
  7. Sole DXB Brings NY Hip-Hop To Abu Dhabi
  8. Wei Han Finds ‘Home’ In New York
  9. Vikram Divecha: Encounters and Negotiations

Spring/Summer 2021

Exhibition Review March 3rd, 2021
DXB There’s a Hurricane at the Foundry

Exhibition Review March 7th, 2021
AUH Re-viewing Contrasts: Hyphenated Spaces at Warehouse421

Curator Interview March 21st, 2021
DXB Permeability and Regional Nodes: Sohrab Hura on Curating Growing Like a Tree at Ishara Art Foundation

Exhibition March 28th, 2021
DXB Alserkal Art Week Top Picks

Exhibition Review April 1st, 2021
DXB A ‘Menu Poem’ and All That Follows

Exhibition Review April 5th, 2021
DXB A Riot Towards Landscapes

Exhibition April 16th, 2021
RUH Noor Riyadh Shines Light on Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Art Strategy

Artist Interview April 26th, 2021
CTU/AUH/YYZ Sabrina Zhao: Between Abu Dhabi, Sichuan, and Toronto

Exhibition Review April 27th, 2021
TYO BIEN Opens Two Solo Exhibitions in Island Japan and Parcel

Artist Interview April 28th, 2021
DXB Ana Escobar: Objects Revisited

Exhibition May 9th, 2021
LDN Fulfilment Services Ltd. Questions Techno-Capitalism on Billboards in London

Artist Interview May 11th, 2021
BAH Mihrab: Mysticism, Devotion, and Geo-Identity

Curator Interview May 20th, 2021
DXB There Is A You In The Cloud You Can’t Delete: A Review of “Age of You” at Jameel Arts Centre

Market Interview May 26th, 2021
TYO Startbahn, Japan’s Leading Art Blockchain Company, Builds a New Art Infrastructure for the Digital Age

Exhibition June 11th, 2021
TYO “Mimicry of Hollows” Opens at The 5th Floor

Exhibiton Review June 20th, 2021
AUH “Total Landscaping”at Warehouse 421

Artist Interview June 30th, 2021
OSA Rintaro Fuse Curates “Silent Category” at Creative Center Osaka

Exhibition Review August 9th, 2021
DXB “After The Beep”: A Review and Some Reflections

E-Issue 03 ––TYO
Fall 2021

October 1st, 2022

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in TYO
  3. Pop(Corn): Nimyu
  4. Ahmad The Japanese: Bady Dalloul on Japan and Belonging
  5. Rapport: Tokyo
  6. Alexandre Taalba Redefines Virtuality at The 5th Floor
  7. Imagining Distant Ecologies in Hypersonic Tokyo: A Review of “Floating Between the Tropical and Glacial Zones”
  8. Ruba Al-Sweel Curates “Garden of e-arthly Delights” at SUMAC Space
  9. Salwa Mikdadi Reflects on the Opening of NYU Abu Dhabi’s Arab Center for the Study of Art

Fall/Winter 2021-22

Market Interview October 6th, 2021
RUH HH Prince Fahad Al Saud Discusses Saudi Arabia’s Artistic Renaissance

Exhibition October 7th, 2021
RUH Misk Art Institute’s Annual Flagship Exhibition Explores the Universality of Identity

Curator Interview October 15th, 2021
IST “Once Upon a Time Inconceivable”: A Review and a Conversation

Exhibition Review October 16th, 2021
AUH Woman as a Noun, and a Practice: “As We Gaze Upon Her” at Warehouse421

Exhibition Review February 11th, 2022

Artist Interview February 26th, 2022
TYO Akira Takayama on McDonald’s Radio University, Heterotopia, and Wagner Project

Artist Interview March 10th, 2022
DXB Prepare The Ingredients and Let The Rest Flow: Miramar and Zaid’s “Pure Data” Premieres at Satellite for Quoz Arts Fest 2022

Exhibition March 11th, 2022
DXB Must-See Exhibitions in Dubai - Art Week Edition 2022

Exhibition Review March 14th, 2022
DXB Art Dubai Digital, An Alternative Art World?

E-Issue 04 –– IST
Spring 2022

March 15th, 2022

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in IST
  3. Pop(Corn): Refik Anadol
  4. Rapport: Istanbul
  5. Independent Spaces in Istanbul: Sarp Özer on Operating AVTO

Spring/Summer 2022

Curator Interview March 21st, 2022

Market Interview March 28th, 2022
DXB Dubai's Postmodern Architecture: Constructing the Future with 3dr Models

Exhibition April 23rd, 2022
HK Startbahn Presents “Made in Japan 3.0: Defining a New Phy-gital Reality”, an NFT Pop-Up at K11 Art Mall

Exhibition May 6th, 2022
Istanbul’s 5533 Presents Nazlı Khoshkhabar’s “Around and Round”

Artist Interview May 13th, 2022
“We Are Witnessing History”: Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian On Their Retrospective Exhibition at NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery

Artist Interview June 13th, 2022
DXB “Geometry is Everywhere”: An Interview and Walking Tour of Order of Magnitude, Jitish Kallat’s Solo Exhibition at Dubai’s Ishara Art Foundation

Exhibition June 21st, 2022
DXB Art Jameel Joins The World Weather Network in a Groundbreaking Response to Global Climate Crisis

Exhibition June 27th, 2022
What’s On in the UAE: Our Top Summer Picks

Curator Interview July 9th, 2022
IST Creating an Artist Books Library in Istanbul: Aslı Özdoyuran on BAS

E-Issue 05 –– VCE
Fall 2022

September 5th, 2022

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in VCE
  3. Pop(Corn): UAE National Pavilion
  4. Rapport: Venice
  5. Zeitgeist of our Time: Füsun Onur for the Turkish Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale
  6. GAD’s Top Picks: National Pavilions
  7. Strangers to the Museum Wall: Kehinde Wiley’s Venice Exhibition Speaks of Violence and Portraiture
  8. Questioning Everyday Life: Alluvium by Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian at OGR Torino in Venice

Fall/Winter 2022-23

Market Interview June 28th, 2022
How Pearl Lam Built Her Gallery Between China and Europe

Exhibition November 11th, 2022
“Atami Blues” Brings Together UAE-Based and Japanese Artists in HOTEL ACAO ANNEX

Exhibition December 2nd, 2022
TYO Wetland Lab Proposes Sustainable Cement Alternative in Tokyo

Artist Interview December 9th, 2022
DXB Navjot Altaf Unpacks Eco-Feminism and Post-Pandemic Reality at Ishara Art Foundation

Artist Interview January 8th, 2023
TYO Shu Yonezawa and the Art of Animation

Artist Interview January 19th, 2023
NYC Reflecting on Her Southwestern Chinese Bai Roots, Peishan Huang Captures Human Traces on Objects and Spaces

Exhibition Review February 9th, 2023
DXB Augustine Paredes Builds His Paradise Home at Gulf Photo Plus

Artist Interview February 22nd, 2023
DXB Persia Beheshti Shares Thoughts on Virtual Worlds and the State of Video Art in Dubai Ahead of Her Screening at Bayt Al Mamzar

E-Issue 06 –– DXB/SHJ
Spring 2023

April 12th, 2023

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in the UAE
  3. Pop(Corn): Jumairy
  4. Rapport: Art Dubai 2023
  5. Highlights from Sharjah Biennial 15
  6. Is Time Just an Illusion? A Review of "Notations on Time" at Ishara Art Foundation
  7. Saif Mhaisen and His Community at Bayt AlMamzar

DXB Christopher Joshua Benton to Debut Mubeen, City as Archive at The Third Line Shop in Collaboration with Global Art Daily

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“Once Upon a Time Inconceivable”: A Review and a Conversation

By Insun Woo

Published on October 15th, 2021

        Throughout the past year and a half, I often found myself being pulled in a multitude of directions. Not literally, as I spent most of the time in front of a computer screen in my room, but mentally and emotionally. News on crimes motivated by fear and hate; a message from mom about a hospitalized family friend; articles on gross inequalities exposed and exacerbated by the pandemic; natural disasters caused by climate change. All kinds of news flooded my screens, making my already cramped room almost suffocating. Plunged in this deluge of information and imagery came a set of questions: What is happening? How do I/we make sense of all this? How do I/we move forward?

Perhaps this was why I was compelled to visit “Once Upon a Time Inconceivable” when I stumbled upon an announcement of its opening as I was surfing the internet in my room. “Once Upon a Time Inconceivable” is a group exhibition organized by Protocinema on the occasion of its ten-year milestone. As a nonprofit art organization that is free of ‘brick and mortar,’ as shared by the curators Mari Spirito and Alper Turan in a conversation afterward (featured in the article below), Protocinema commissions and presents site-aware art around the world that promotes cross-cultural dialogues and understanding. For this exhibition, works by nine artists—Abbas Akhavan, Hera Büyüktaşçıyan, Banu Cennetoğlu, Ceal Floyer, Gülşah Mursaloğlu, Zeyno Pekünlü, Paul Pfeiffer, Amie Siegel, and Mario García Torres—were brought together at Beykoz Kundura, a cultural hub that was formerly a factory that manufactured paper and leather, located on the north-east coast of the Bosphorus, Istanbul. Coming after a period of crisis and loss that has left many of us with the tasks of rethinking establishments and reevaluating personal, local, and global relationships, the exhibition invites visitors to consider the workings of perception and realization in relation to time and space.

1. Zeyno Pekünlü, Without a Camera, 2021. Video, 71’, color:sound.  Installation shot by Zeynep Fırat.  © Zeyno Pekünlü. Courtesy the artist and Sanatorium Gallery, Istanbul.

As I walked through the vast exhibition space, I sensed the multiple temporalities embodied by it. The entire space bears traces of its past use (as a factory warehouse) and disuse: large holes exist in the ceiling, revealing the metal structures beyond; lumps of dust and occasional wood chips sit on the floor, and spider webs extend over the tall windows. The two walls of cardboard boxes, which were erected for the exhibition, added yet another layer of temporality to the space, making the show “appear as if it could be packed in all the boxes and be gone the next day,” as pointed out by the curator Spirito. Not only did it make me ever more aware of my body and the marks it left on the space, but it also made me more attuned to the different paces and temporalities of the displayed artworks.

2. Exhibition space. Photo: Insun Woo.

Placed in front of the entrance, Gülşah Mursaloğlu’s Merging Fields, Splitting Ends (2021) and Paul Pfeiffer’s Orpheus Descending (2001) caught my eye. Mursaloğlu’s installation investigates the effects of heat and time. A group of water-filled metal buckets, each placed on a hot plate, were scattered across the floor. A hand-sewn sheet of potato plastic hung above each bucket. Though the three objects are disparate, they register as a system; they are connected by two imperceptible forces of time and heat. Heat travels from the hot plate to the bucket and to the bioplastic sheets through the form of steam. Over time, the sheets disintegrate. By the time of my visit, some sheets had discolored and even broken apart.

3. Gülşah Mursaloğlu, Merging Fields, Splitting Ends, 2021, Installation. Potato-based bioplastic, thread, steel, water, heating plates. Dimensions variable. Installation shot by Zeynep Fırat © Gülşah Mursaloğlu and Protocinema. Within Protocinema’s “Once Upon A Time Inconceivable,” 2021.

Glowing gently next to Merging Fields, Splitting Ends is a screen full of incubated eggs: Pfeiffer’s Orpheus Descending. It spans 1800 hours, displaying the 75-day-life-cycle of a flock of chickens (from eggs to day-old chicks to full-grown adults). Though heat and time are at work in both pieces, they lead to different results. Mursaloğlu’s installation highlights their entropic effects—materials disintegrate and systems break down. Pfeiffer’s video, on the other hand, shows the generative, nurturing effects of heat and time. Though I didn’t witness the hatching of eggs during my visit, I knew that with the passing of each second, they were getting one step closer to life (though, of course, an unhappy fate awaits them at the end). Together, the works made me consider the imperceptible forces that are at work across my space and time, forming or breaking relationships between me and my surroundings.

4. Paul Pfeiffer, Orpheus Descending, 2001. Video installation, 75 VHS Tapes Duration: 75 days. Originally commissioned by the Public Art Fund and installed at the World Trade Center and the World Financial Center, New York, April 15 - June 28, 2001. Installation shot by Zeynep Fırat © Paul Pfeiffer. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York. Within Protocinema’s “Once Upon A Time Inconceivable,” 2021.

To the left, beyond walls of cardboard boxes housing Zeyno Pekünlü’s Without a Camera (2021) was Abbas Akhavan’s spring (2021). A series of concentric circles stood somewhat precariously, relying on two piles of bricks for their balance. A dry mechanic hum emanated from a nearby machine, which turned out to be a cooling engine. What the sculpture was wasn't readily available; it evoked random objects, like an electric burner or an archery target. With the help of the accompanying essay, I realized that the sculpture is made of pipes from dismantled fountains. As I looked at a fountain stripped of its spectacle—water flowing, splashing, and jetting from a beautiful cast stone structure—I wondered about the kinds of structures that underlie today’s society. Much like the fragile frozen pipes that lie behind the visual spectacle created by a fountain, what lies behind the public spectacles and fast pace of our society seems precarious and paralyzed.

5. Abbas Akhavan, spring, 2021, sculpture. Frost, copper piping,  freezing mechanism, cinder blocks, found water fountain, lights and pump. Part 1_ 3.75 meters diameter x 45 cm, part 2_ 160 x 160 x 80 cm freezing mechanism.  Installation shot by Zeynep Fırat. © Abbas Akhavan and Protocinema. Courtesy the artist, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver and The Third Line, Dubai. Within Protocinema’s “Once Upon A Time Inconceivable,” 2021.

Banu Cennetoğlu’s installation IKNOWVERYWELLBUTNEVERTHELESS (2015 - ongoing) quietly but consistently exerted its presence from above as I walked around the exhibition. The phrase comes from the French psychoanalyst Octave Mannoni, and it refers to a willingly repressed state of awareness. At the beginning of the exhibition, 24 black helium-filled balloons were neatly aligned across the wall, spelling out the title in Turkish. Though they were crumpled and scattered across the ceiling randomly by the time of my visit, it was this very illegibility that made me feel as though the work was asking, “what are you going to do with the newly gained information and perspectives from this exhibition? Are they going to translate into action?”

6. Left: Banu Cennetoğlu, IKNOWVERYWELLBUTNEVERTHELESS, 2015-ongoing. Installation. 24 helium inflated mylar balloons.  Installation shot by Zeynep Fırat  © Banu Cennetoğlu. Courtesy the artist and Rodeo Gallery, London & Piraeus. Within Protocinema’s “Once Upon A Time Inconceivable,” 2021. Right: IKNOWVERYWELLBUTNEVERTHELESS at the time of visit. Photo: Insun Woo. 

As I was writing this review, I had the chance to speak with the curators of this exhibition, Mari Spirito and Alper Turan and learn more about the featured works, as well as the exhibition space and curatorial process.

Insun Woo: Could you tell us more about the exhibition title, Once Upon a Time Inconceivable, and how the topics for the exhibition came about?

Mari Spirito: The exhibition embodies the passing of time, how we understand it, what conditions lead to realizations, and then what happens from all that. It was organized for our tenth anniversary, yet it's really about misunderstanding time, which is why many of the works here are changing and moving. That’s why we refer to it as a milestone: something that we’re passing by.

While we were working on the exhibition, we all learned how people’s perception of time had changed quite a bit because of the pandemic. We felt time passing differently because we weren’t able to physically move around. Along with that, having all that time to think leads to realizations for many. Lots of people were making big life changes, about work, where they live, how they live, and so forth. So all these things were put together into this soup that is the exhibition.

I.W.: It’s clear that the perception of temporality is central to the exhibition. Could you tell us more about the decision to bring Ceal Floyer’s works Viewer (2011-21) and Overgrowth (2004), which deal more with spatiality, into the exhibition?

M.S.: I try to put artworks together that address the core issues on a spectrum. The artworks are each about the topics from varied directions.

I’ve always been affected by the fact that when you physically change places, you get a different emotional perspective on things. Living in Istanbul has allowed me to gain a different perspective on things that are going on in New York, and this is fascinating and insightful. I felt that this is reflected in Ceal’s Overgrowth; the distance between the projector and the wall changes our relationship with the projected image. Similarly, Viewer offers a mediated view of a space, changing our understanding of it, yet at the same time an absurd move to put a peep-hole in a window.

Also, I wanted to include works by artists who I’ve worked with in different ways. Ceal is an artist I’ve had the longest relationship with—we’ve worked together for twenty years, since my time as a gallery director in New York, part of my past. On the other side of it is Gülşah Mursaloğlu, who I know the least and first showed her work in  2017.

7. Ceal Floyer, Overgrowth, 2004, Medium format slide and medium format slide projector, Dimensions variable.   Installation shot by Zeynep Fırat. © Ceal Floyer. Courtesy Lisson Gallery; Esther Schipper Gallery, Berlin, 303 Gallery, New York; Galleria Massimo Minini, Berscia. Within Protocinema’s “Once Upon A Time Inconceivable,” 2021.

8. Ceal Floyer, Viewer, 2011/2021, Sculpture. Door viewer, glass, variable dimensions.  Installation shot by Zeynep Fırat. © Ceal Floyer. Courtesy Lisson Gallery; Esther Schipper Gallery, Berlin; 303 Gallery, New York; Galleria Massimo Minini, Berscia. Within Protocinema’s “Once Upon A Time Inconceivable,” 2021.

I.W.: How was Beykoz Kundura selected as the site of the exhibition?

M.S.: I met Buse Yıldırım, who is the Artistic Director of Beykoz Kundura, a few years ago. In 2019, Protocinema premiered our screening tour at their cinema. We had a lovely working experience and kept talking over the years. While I was in the process of looking for a space for this show, Buse invited us to do the exhibition there. I am constantly keeping my eyes and ears open for spaces and always thinking about how to put artworks and spaces together. It’s regular practice for an itinerant art organization like us.

Alper Turan: Besides the good relationship we had with Beykoz Kundura, we also liked how it’s used as a film set, which fits with Protocinema’s interest in moving images. Also, the space is huge, and there aren’t that many large spaces available for an art exhibition, so we saw it as an opportunity.

I.W.: Yes, I loved it! It went really well with the exhibition topic as well. I could see and feel the history of the space--how it was used as a warehouse for a factory. I’d love to hear more about the exhibition design. Could you tell me more about some of the choices you made?

M.S.: We chose to use the space as we found it, as we wanted to show the aging of the space. The dust on the floor was left as it is, and spider webs near the window were left uncleaned. We also placed the works in a way that rewards close-looking visitors. Viewer is installed right at the entrance, many people initially run right past it, when they first walk in. You might get it only on your way out. Also, two of Mario Garcia Torres’ silkscreens are hanging in dimly lit parts of the show. Which is interesting because Mario’s works are precisely about how knowing or not knowing changes how we experience and understand our world. There are some extra treats in this show, “easter eggs’ as the film industry likes to call them, for those who look closely.

I.W.: That’s what I wondered. I also noticed how parts of the windows were colored, and the colors were similar to those used in Mario Garcia Torres’s silkscreen. Did you do that for the exhibition?

M.S.: That coloring of the windows are plastic films that Kundura Beykoz put on there to make it look like stained glass. It’s a visual trope used a lot around Istanbul referencing pre-Ottoman era glass history. Mario’s palette came from photos we sent him of the front of the cinemas where the posters of his “Spoilers” would go. The posters were sent to independent cinemas in Kars, Izmir, Ankara, and here in Beyoğlu, Istanbul.

A.T.: Also, if you look at Gülşah’s work, some of the bioplastic sheets are tinted with colors. She was literally inspired by the coloring of the windows in the exhibition space.

9. Mario García Torres, In Selvi Boylum Al Yazmalım.. 1976, from Spoiler series. N.d. 9 Silkscreen ink and acrylic paint on linen, each 40 x 30 cm. © Mario García Torres. Courtesy the Jan Mot, Brussels; neugerriemschneider Berlin; Galleria Franco Noero, Torino; Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo. Within Protocinema’s “Once Upon A Time Inconceivable,” 2021.

IW: I’m also curious about the placement of the works in the show—Cennetoğlu’s work, IKNOWVERYWELLBUTNEVERTHELESS, for example. I had read the ProtoZine before visiting the exhibition and tried envisioning what the exhibition might look like, and I expected Cennetoğlu’s work to be hung either near the exit, or at the end of the exhibition space, since it asks the question of what comes after realization. I was surprised to find it somewhat near the middle of the exhibition space.

M.S.: Naturally, in group shows works are installed to create conversations between each other. Paul’s video is on the floor facing our entrance to put forth a grounded feeling. Yet his story is a very long one—in real time, it lasts longer than the run of this show and keeps going in other parts of the city until sometime in November. Both Gülşah Mursaloğlu’s and Hera Büyüktaşçıyan’s works are also on the floor with reaching elements, so that viewers look both down and then up. This leads you to Banu’s sculpture which is installed up near the ceiling. Banu’s work speaks of the psychological and pathological crime of inaction, where Gülşah’s work crumbles in its own action and Hera’s work reveals over 1,500 years of layers upon layers of power struggles. Alternatively, Abbas Akvahan’s sculpture, spring, is about a pause, a frozen or suspended feeling, that is revealed in a moody part of the warehouse with only a sliver of natural light and only a little connection to the outside. I wanted it in its own winter oasis, yet in the vicinity of Ceal’s tree (of life). Zeyno’s work deals not only with A.I. yet also how much things are both very different and the same through history. Her and Fitisound’s audio lure you into a cyclical time warp and it is installed where the viewer will pass it multiple times. There’s a lot of visual activity happening up on the ceiling, damaged wood for example, nets hanging to catch falling debris, so we wanted Banu’s work to be in conversation with that mess, as well. It's part of the show. Mario placed his paintings himself, to be discovered along the way and function as “ah ha moments” and punctuation marks. I also wanted the natural light from the outside to fall on each of these works in different ways. So, there are lots of variables.

I.W.: How interesting! It worked really well. That clearing between Mursaloğlu’s and Büyüktaşçıyan’s works, especially. Could you also share more about Amie Siegel’s Quarry (2015)? How does it relate to other works in the show?

M.S.: The relationship between Siegel’s and Büyüktaşçıyan’s works is direct, especially considering what happened to the architecture of Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia) here in Istanbul. [editor’s note: In July 2020, the Hagia Sophia was stripped of its museum status and converted into a mosque. Turquoise carpet was laid across the marble floor]. 

On its own, Quarry is an articulate representation of extraction. During the pandemic, when talking about reducing consumption to reduce extraction, I surprisingly got a lot of people asking, What do you mean? Instead of being aggravated that I have to explain that to people, I thought that it’d be nice to show it. There’s a lot of seduction about these beautiful high-rise apartments. The work walks a line between being critical yet potentially from the inside, being seduced by power and money. I think that’s something that is important to keep in mind because we all say that we want to stop consuming and be more sustainable, but we’re participating in it. So that brought about the cardboard box walls and recyclable seating. We really worked on where we could to make the exhibition not be wasteful. We didn’t fly artists in, we didn’t ship any artworks. We are participating in what is possible to do.

IW: Do you know how Pfeiffer’s and Garcia Torres’ works installed in other locations in Istanbul and other cities in Turkey were received?

M.S.: We did get some feedback from cafes when we first installed Pfeiffer’s work. People were waiting for the eggs to hatch and they wanted them to hatch faster! We will go back now that the eggs are hatching and ask people what they think.

IW: Yes, that’d be so interesting! Last but not least… What is your vision for Protocinema in the coming years?

M.S.: We’re envisioning some more writing projects. How would you articulate that, Alper?

A.T.: That, and we’re also trying to work more on the grassroots level with other initiatives and artists around the world—in addition to Istanbul and New York.

M.S.: We will be doing things differently, yet we don’t know how yet. That’s the inconceivable part. We have the flexibility as a small organization. We can experiment and try different things. When we first started Protocinema without a permanent physical space and working in different cities, it was hard for people to grasp. Now, there are so many organizations working like this. So, we want to make another new way to work that responds to this moment in time, to the new needs that have come up, in ways that we do not even know about yet.

10. Left: Amie Siegel, Quarry, 2015. HD video, color:sound (installation shot). © Amie Siegel. Courtesy the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery. Within Protocinema’s Once Upon A Time Inconceivable, 2021. Right: Hera Büyüktaşçıyan, Skin Deep, 2021. Sculpture, carpet and wood. Installation shot by Zeynep Fırat © Hera Büyüktaşçıyan and Protocinema. Courtesy the artist and Green Art Gallery, Dubai. Within Protocinema’s “Once Upon A Time Inconceivable,” 2021.

“Once Upon a Time Inconceivable” was held at Beykoz Kundura from September 4th - October 10th, 2021.

Read more about the exhibition on Protocinema’s website.
Follow Protocinema on Instagram.

Mari Spirito is Executive Director and Curator of Protocinema, a cross-cultural, site-aware art organization commissioning and presenting exhibitions and public programs in Istanbul and New York, since 2011. In 2020 Spirito was commissioning curator of Ahmet Öğüt: “No poem loves its poet’, Yarat Contemporary Art Center, Baku, and Theo Triantafyllidis’ “Anti-Gone” which premiered at Sundance Film Festival, New Frontier; she curated public talks for Beijing Art Summit, 2019; was faculty for Independent Curators International (ICI) Curatorial Intensive, Bangkok, and guest curator, Alserkal Arts Foundation Public Commission, Dubai, with Hale Tenger, in 2018.  In 2017 she launched Protocinema’s annual screening tour, in 2015 Protocinema’s Emerging Curator Series mentorship program. From 2013 - 2018 Spirito programed Conversations for both Art Basel and Art Basel Miami Beach; served as International Advisory Committee Member for the Inaugural High Line Plinth Commissions, New York, 2017; was Curator and Director of Alt Art Space, Bomonti, Istanbul from 2015 to 2017; curated “On the Nature of Justice” exhibition and talk for Onassis Cultural Center, 2017, Advisor to the 2nd Mardin Biennial, Turkey, 2012; and Director of 303 Gallery New York, 2000 - 2012. She is on the Board of Participant, Inc, New York, and holds a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art, Boston.

Alper Turan is a curator and researcher based in Istanbul and Berlin. Her current research and curatorial practice focus on queer strategies and methodologies which includes but not limited to collective fiction and fictional archive-building, appropriation, and anonymity. Between 2016-2018, with a curatorial collective Das Art Project, he co-curated four site-responsive exhibitions including ‘‘Genetically Modified’’ (2017) commissioned for 13th Sharjah Biennial’s off-site exhibition. In 2018, Turan curated Positive Space, an exhibition project on HIV/AIDS in Istanbul. This project also lays the ground of his cultural studies master research in Sabancı University in which she merged critical reading of artworks with (auto)ethnographic accounts. Turan co-curated HIVstories research exhibition which has been travelling around Berlin, Warsaw and Istanbul. Turan participated in International Curatorial Intensive in New Orleans (2019), ARTER Research Program, Istanbul (2019-20) and worked temporarily for Schwules Museum, Berlin (2018), Collecteurs (2019), Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg (2019). In 2020, Turan started her PhD in theory and history of arts at the College of Fine Arts in Hamburg (HFBK).

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