“Who Shall Deliver Us From the Greeks and Romans?”
              Merve Ünsal
              “Who Shall Deliver Us From the Greeks and Romans?”—an exhibition curated by Cristiana Perrella for Galeri Manâ—directly addresses a recent trend in contemporary art of looking back towards classical Greek and Roman visual culture for sources and inspiration. The presentation includes works from a range of artists from different backgrounds—such as Lisa Anne Auerbach and Aleksandra Mir; Steven Claydon; Özlem Günyol and Mustafa Kunt; Matthew Monahan; Jonathan Monk; and Liam Gillick—which oscillate between mimetic homages of the classical ideal and a more self-reflexive critique of Antiquity’s influence throughout the history of art. Each of the artists’ visual subversions of common classical objects are subtle, demonstrating the exhibition’s success in creating a critical distance to the Greek and Roman artistic legacy. Upon entering Galeri Manâ’s lofty space—a converted wheat mill—one encounters Daniel Silver’s new series of untitled busts on pedestals. These works, which closely resemble their antique counterparts, affirming the exhibition’s point of departure, set the stage for a range of practices that stand in differing relation to the classical past. Hanging beside Silver’s sculptures are Francesco Vezzoli’s laser prints of “crying” busts on canvas, with titles like EMPEROR CALIGULA CRYING FRANCIS BACON’ FIGURES AT THE BASE OF A CRUXIFICATION (2014), which …
              Sarkis’s “İkiz/Twin”
              Merve Ünsal
              In Karaköy, Istanbul, down the hill from the ongoing peaceful protests near Taksim Square, Galeri Manâ has been open only intermittently for the last three weeks. Yet the elegant exhibition on view there since late May serves as a moment of silence (contrasted to the immediate surroundings) and as a tribute to the influential practice of Sarkis, the Paris-based artist (born in 1938), who goes by his first name. Merging architectural, historical, and artistic references with his personalized vocabulary of materials and gestures, his works resonate with urgency in light of the recent protests that have woken the city from its slumber. In the exhibition, there’s a video playing on a screen supine on the floor. It depicts the artist dripping candlewax into his palm, the corporeal coyly mingled with the spiritual here, reframing the gesture of opening up one’s palm with that of physical pain. The context of the gallery is important: Sarkis employs the entirety of the former mill’s two floors, and his choice material is copper, whose reflective, warm, shiny surfaces are giving, inclusive, preventing the story from unraveling in a linear manner. Some works are even easy to miss: the copper chains, hanging from the ceiling to …
              Douglas Gordon’s “Phantom”
              Merve Ünsal
              Upon entering Galeri Manâ’s large doors, the viewer is greeted by almost complete darkness. A wooden stage is setup with a projection screen diagonally dividing it into two. On the side closer to the door are the remains of a burnt piano and a new Steinway, glaringly juxtaposed. A heavily made-up eye appears on the white background of the projection screen as Rufus Wainwright’s voice and music fill up the space. Douglas Gordon’s first exhibition in Turkey, “Phantom,” hits its first notes on a self-conscious stage, the namesake work. The different elements of the installation (sound, objects, lighting, visuals) slowly unfold for the patient viewer. Gordon’s collaboration with Rufus Wainwright is elegantly simple—the eye that appears on the screen is Wainwright’s and bears witness to Wainwright’s album, All Days Are Night: Songs for Lulu, partly written in response to his mother’s death in 2010. The make-up is a nod to the hyper-awareness of publicly processing grief, loss, and memory. The highly aestheticized eye not only takes in the music and the situation, but also the viewer pacing the space, entranced by the beautiful and the lost, the personal and the public, the theatrical and the intimate. The works in the upstairs gallery …

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