Strategies for Radical Democracy Ahmet Öğüt

January 15 – March 2, 2014

Curated by Rhonda Corvese

Installation Views: Toni Hafkenscheid
Special Events

Opening Reception: Wednesday January 15, 5 – 8pm
A FREE shuttle bus will depart from Mercer Union (1286 Bloor Street W) at 6pm and return for 8:30pm. Artist and curator will be in attendance.

Ahmet Öğüt: Artist Talk
Thursday January 16, 5:30pm – 7pm
Masters of Visual Studies (MVS) Proseminar
North Borden Building, Rm 229
563 Spadina Crescent, Toronto

FREE Contemporary Art Bus Tour
Sunday January 19, 12 – 5:30pm
The tour starts at Koffler Centre of the Arts at Artscape YoungPlace (180 Shaw Street) at 12noon and then departs for Art Gallery of York University and Blackwood Gallery. Seating is limited. To RSVP email at 647.925.0643  ext. 226 by Friday January 17 at 5pm.

The Blackwood Talks:
Circles, spheres, spirals and knots: paradoxical topologies of public space
by Adrian Blackwell
Monday January 20, 9-11am
Blackwood Gallery, Kaneff Center

Exhibition Statement

Ahmet Öğüt creates situations that shift contexts, allowing for new possibilities of interchange and alternative perspectives on continuity, in so doing expanding our perceptions, and as Öğüt states “finding ways of disrupting social protocols by making minor shifts in their most basic forms.”(1) Öğüt’s ability to creatively identify these contextual gaps facilitates the public's agency in constructing their own participation. In his artistic practice, Öğüt sets a platform for critical discourse that is at once insightfully political, focusing on the global flux in geo-political, economic and social inequities, and culturally considered in its interpretation, using both humour and irony to reach his audience. There is also an unexpected quality to Öğüt’s work, a dislocation of the artistic frame that effectively opens the viewer to a peripheral-like vision, challenging our interpretation of cyclical-temporal address. This invitation initiates a temporal freedom to reconsider our role in society, and provides access to demonstrate these interwoven connections. Ironically, this dislocation of the artistic frame is more often than not, located historically and site-specifically, in a local context beyond that of the art world, mobilizing the art world as yet another form of mediation.
Strategies for Radical Democracy is the first solo exhibition of Turkish artist Ahmet Öğüt in Canada. The exhibition features seven key works dating from 2009 to the present, showcasing the range of Öğüt’s artistic practice across a variety of media including installation, intervention, video, and performance. The centerpiece of the exhibition is a raised platform structure (8’ x 8’) illustrating the artist’s theory titled Strategic Diagram for Non-hierarchical Participatory Radical Democracy. The diagrammatic structure functions as a way to analyze socio-political shifts and demarcate mediation. Öğüt identifies those that activate mediation, as “anyone who is trying or thinking about the possibilities of transforming the system.” This statement is the foundation through which the framework Öğüt has devised can be understood. The diagram is quadrant-divided and each forms a Constructed Reality built in service of a Power (Empire) that operates as a temporary autonomous zone and thus contains gaps as part of this shifting framework. The function of the framework is to provide a platform for non-hierarchical participatory radical democracy. Öğüt’s theories of Non-hierarchical Participatory Radical Democracy are delineated in his artistic practice as 1) Time, Speed, Distance; 2) Reconstructing Recent History; 3) Fiction/Illusion; and 4) Autonomy (Self-Organization). They are indicated in the four strategic zones of the diagram as well as in the physical structure positioned at the center of the gallery space. Viewers are invited to participate with their own theories by writing on the diagram with the chalk provided. The platform diagram provides a quasi-directional module for the exhibition by dividing the gallery into four corresponding zones, each wall indicating a zone, and each wall indicating works by Öğüt which reference its respective zone.

- Rhonda Corvese

(1) The notion of continuity is central to Öğüt's work, but is often overlooked. It appears in Guppy 13 vs. Ocean Wave; a Bas Jan Ader Experience (2010) where the apocryphal recovery and return of Bas Ader's boat allows participants to engage with the notion of this iconic cultural object and initiate a level of self-determination in so doing. This is also the case with Let it be known to all persons here gathered (2012), as well as in Fahrenheit 451: Reprinted (2013) where the censored books are recovered/reprinted and returned to the public. As well as in EyeWriter/DIY/arbakir: Chapter One and Chapter Two (2012-2013) where Öğüt returns to his hometown of Diyarbakir and reconsiders the cultural ritual of money giving at weddings (a gesture of prosperity) by subtly reaching others with the message of the EyeWriter/DIY technology.

Click here for the master floorplan.

Blackwood Gallery
Click here for a list of works and project descriptions.

Click here for a list of works and project descriptions.

Artist Biography

Ahmet Öğüt is a highly acclaimed Turkish visual artist who lives and works in Istanbul, Amsterdam and Berlin. Working across a variety of media, including installation, performance, sculpture, video, drawings and texts, Öğüt has gained international acclaim for his subtle references to complex topics, such as religion, social and rural customs, and the spectre of war, often offset by an edge of humour. He defines three main objectives within his work as ‘the politics of distance, the notion of time and the conception of speed’. Öğüt recently completed a year-long residency at Tate and the Delfina Foundation in London, resulting in the major ongoing project ‘The Silent University’ (2012), as well as a month-long residency in Finland with Checkpoint Helsinki producing the installation/performance ‘Fahrenheit 451: Reprinting’. Öğüt recently had solo exhibitions at Kunsterhaus, Stuffgart; SALT Beyoglu, Istanbul, Fondazione Giuliani, Rome, Artspace Visual Arts Centre in Sydney and Kunsthalle Basel. Selected group exhibitions include the 7th Liverpool Biennial, the 12th Istanbul Biennial, the 4th Moscow Biennial, Performa 09 in New York, the 5th Berlin Biennial, and the upcoming 19th Sydney Biennale (2014). He is winner of the 2010 Europas Zukuft prize form the Museum of Contemporary Art (GfZK Leipzig), the 2011 Volkskrant Art Prize, The Special Prize of the Future Generation Art Prize (2012), and in 2013 was awarded The Visible Award for his project ‘The Silent University’. In 2009 Öğüt co-represented Turkey at the 53rd Venice Biennale.

Opening Reception
Installation Views

Generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and University of Toronto Mississauga Student Housing & Residence Life. In partnership with the Masters of Visual Studies (MVS) Proseminar series.

Design by Matthew Hoffman.