April 13, 2013 - MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art - SIGNS TAKEN IN WONDER
April 13, 2013


Murat Gok, Border (Hammock), 2010. Courtesy the artist and PILOT Gallery, Istanbul.

SIGNS TAKEN IN WONDER: Searching for Contemporary Istanbul
until April 21, 2013

MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts /
Contemporary Art

Stubenring 5, 1010 Vienna, Austria


The MAK exhibition SIGNS TAKEN IN WONDER: Searching for Contemporary Istanbul presents a topical snapshot of contemporary art production in the context of the city of Istanbul. Works by 33 artists from Istanbul, Turkish artists who live abroad, and other international artists—including new commissions and site-specific installations—develop an imaginative narrative about the culture and history of this many-faceted metropolis equally shaped by European, Oriental, and Asian influences.

Starting from the way that novels and essays inform collective notions about foreign cultures, the exhibition explores the importance of narrative within contemporary art. The exhibition takes its inspiration from an essay written by Homi K. Bhabha that describes the moment of wonder and amazement of the discovery of a new and foreign language and culture. A similar spirit informs Franco Moretti’s book about world literatures and culture in translation Signs Taken for Wonders (London: Verso, 1988) and what it means for the construction of “world views” or “worlding”. Similar reference can be found in texts by the Turkish authors Mario Levi and Orhan Pamuk and in work by international authors like Pierre Loti.

SIGNS TAKEN IN WONDER is a collection of small worlds and little wonders in a time of globalization. It focuses on the artists as individuals and their work as expressions of individuality that apply themselves to questions of identity and its reflection in the private and public realm—engaging with transformative discourses associated with post-colonialism, feminism, religion, and political self-determination.

The multiplicity of works presented in the exhibition—including works made from ceramics and textiles, and referring to architecture—reflects the MAK’s mission as a museum of applied art that promotes inter-creative dialogue and exchange between applied art, design, architecture and contemporary visual art.

The exhibition is accompanied by the full-color catalogue Signs Taken in Wonder: Searching for Contemporary Art about Istanbul with texts by Vasif Kortun, Mario Levi, Markus Neuwirth, Bige Orer, Nikos Papastergiadis, Simon Rees, Gerhard Roiss, Christoph Thun-Hohenstein, and Baerbel Vischer published by MAK / Hatje Cantz.

The MAK developed an extensive public program to accompany the exhibition, including performances by Cevdet Erek, :MENTALKLINIK, and Korhan Erel, screenings including a premiere of film works by Mario Rizzi, and panel discussions with Paolo Colombo, Bige Orer, Vasif Kortun, and a range of artists’ talks. A special women’s textile workshop was produced by Gunes Terkol on the occasion of International Women’s Day on March 8. And for the closing weekend of the exhibition artist Asli Cavusoglu will be performing Words Dash Against the Facade, in which she tells the fortune of three buildings, using an ancient Greek, Sumerian and Babylonian technique, based on the appearance of their facades.

Participating artists: Hamra Abbas / Murat Akagunduz / Yesim Akdeniz / Eylem Aladogan / Meric Algun Ringborg / Huseyin Bahri Alptekin / Halil Altindere / Kutlug Ataman / CANAN / Asli Cavusoglu / Cengiz Cekil / Banu Cennetoglu / Mutlu Cerkez / Antonio Cosentino / Canan Dagdelen / Lukas Duwenhoegger / Erdem Ergaz / Cevdet Erek / Murat Gok / Nilbar Gures / Sibel Horada / Emre Huner / Aki Nagasaka / Marcel Odenbach / Fusun Onur / Ahmet Ogut / Mario Rizzi / Nasra Simmes / Gunes Terkol / Erdem Tasdelen / Cengiz Tekin / Irem Tok / Uygur Yılmaz

Curated by: Simon Rees, Baerbel Vischer

This seminal exhibition was made possible by the integrated, international oil and gas company OMV, which focuses its cultural sponsoring activities on cultural exchange in the area of contemporary art between the company’s core markets in Austria, Romania, and Turkey. This contribution by OMV produces cultural dialogue over-and-above its economic engagement in these regions.

MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art
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