January 25, 2010 - University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) - Ahmet Öğüt: Exploded City
January 25, 2010

Ahmet Öğüt: Exploded City

Ahmet Öğüt
Exploded City, 2009
Scale model buildings, vehicles, mixed materials
169 5/16 x 189 x 63 in.
Installation detail from Pavilion of Turkey, The 53rd Venice Biennale
Commissioned by Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV)

Ahmet Öğüt: Exploded City
January 24 – April 11, 2010

2626 Bancroft Way,
Berkeley CA 94720


“This city is from the future. It’s called The Exploded City. Those who live there have emigrated from faraway lands, with dreams of traveling to the future. When they realized that there was no finding the future, they decided to build this city.”—Marco Polo

BAM/PFA presents Ahmet Öğüt’s first solo exhibition in the United States, Ahmet Öğüt Exploded City, an imaginary metropolis comprising buildings, monuments, and vehicles that have figured in acts of violence and terrorism over the past two decades. Structures from Turkey, Ireland, India, Yugoslavia, Great Britain, and the United States, among other countries, form a unified urban scale model, reconstructing these sites in the moments before they were destroyed.

The installation, originally commissioned for the Turkish Pavilion at the 2009 Venice Biennale, is accompanied by a text situating the locations within a narrative that engages the poetics and politics of space, architecture, violence, and international relations. The work directly channels Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, which detailed Marco Polo’s fantastical descriptions of the “invisible cities” witnessed during his travels for the emperor Kublai Khan.

Öğüt presents visible but “semi-anonymous” buildings, whose intact form may be forgotten while the aftermaths of their destruction are seared into the collective consciousness via the media and individual consciousnesses via personal experience. The vehicles in particular reference Öğüt’s ongoing interest in distance, time, and speed, measures by which our relationship to reality is shaped and through which disparate lands are connected.

The exhibition’s second work, the film Things We Count, pans slowly across the retired fighter planes at an airplane graveyard in Arizona’s Sonoran desert, as a voice counts them one by one in Kurdish, Turkish, and English. This counting, in the languages of faraway lands, connects the planes in their U.S. resting place to their actions in the larger world. Both Exploded City and Things We Count gesture toward the ways in which the collapsing of time and distance impacts our relationship to reality, interconnected as we are through the mechanisms of war and politics.

Öğüt recently had solo exhibitions at Künstlerhaus Bremen; Centre d’Art Santa Mònica, Barcelona; and Kunsthalle Basel. His work was also recently included in group exhibitions at Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw; De Appel, Amsterdam; New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; Malmö Konsthall, Sweden; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, the Netherlands; and the Berlin Biennale. Born in Turkey in 1981, Öğüt lives and works in Amsterdam.

Ahmet Öğüt: Exploded City is curated by Phyllis Wattis MATRIX Curator Elizabeth Thomas.

The MATRIX Program at the UC Berkeley Art Museum is made possible by a generous endowment gift from Phyllis C. Wattis, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and the continued support of the BAM/PFA Trustees. The presentation of Ahmet Ögüt: Exploded City was made possible in part by the Mondriaan Foundation, Amsterdam.

The Exploded City installation was originally commissioned by Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) as part of the Pavilion of Turkey, The 53rd Venice Biennale.

University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

Gallery Hours:
Wednesday to Sunday, 11 to 5.

Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Press contact: 
Peter Cavagnaro pcavagnaro@berkeley.edu

University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA)

University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA)
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