Art Sonje Center presents Money without Nationality, a solo exhibition featuring the work of artist Fahrettin Örenli, from 4 November to 17 December, 2017. The exhibition Money without Nationality examines the psychological and physical aspects of cities as living organic structures, perceiving them as control towers for the distribution of mass information. For centuries humans have built their jungles/cities in accordance with their own human nature, growing them into giant living, organic structures. Then to survive or adapt to these environments, humans have gone on to create taller walls, broader rules, bigger illusions, and information pollution on a massive scale. More importantly, Örenli delves into issues of money, specifically money as the foremost unit of refined measurement, to see how it influences the building of sustainable knowledge for the future. Money without Nationality investigates how humanity has blinkered itself in the process and got lost inside man-made nature, hypnotized by the power of synthetic sunsets placed by their own hands on the horizon, for instance, or by choosing not to recognize certain truths in the name of economic interests.
High Heels, a central series in the exhibition, borrows its title and theme from the story of Turkish writer Ömer Seyfettin to ponder the problematic issues contemporary societies in different corners of the world face today. The core message of the story is: ‘We are aware of our problems, but not wanting to face them, we avoid them’. At times these problems are painful, even unbearable to acknowledge, so we stand and stare helplessly, accepting the consequences as though they were the workings of fate. This critical message threads through the current project, which explores the invisible workings and hidden powers that allow for financial investments to move under the surface of contemporary life unbound by and irrespective of borders.
In Örenli’s previous works, he has dealt with the impact of economics and politics on us currently and in the future. This is best represented by a site-specific installation transformed from his artist book, titled Conspiracy Wall > ANARTIST (2004-2014), which presents the social, political, and economic problems that have affected human life throughout history, and particularly over the last decade. More importantly, this work asks how these issues have impacted and altered, for posterity, nature—that is, the place where existence comes into being.
Money without Nationality connects Örenli’s past and current artistic practices through its focus on knowledge in the present and future, and sustainability/disappearance of accumulated knowledge even posterior to the end of our physical existence in the universe. The aim is to explore the impact of socioeconomic and political issues on creating sustainable knowledge for the future, and the ways by which cities are psychologically and physically shaped into complex entities that then assimilate information.
In Seoul, Örenli’s project continued to evolve in ways that reflected its main theme: metropolises as unconquerable, monstrous living things, monsters made up of ‘us’ that are flattening our knowledge into one. Research was extended to understand the beauty of this monster’s soul—money—and the competition to gain power through it. Specifically, issues particular to Seoul are examined through socioeconomic, scientific, and technological lenses. For instance, plastic surgery is seen in parallel with urban redevelopment to uncover the pattern of this unique creature, to see whether there is something hidden under his or her artificial beauty, whether there is, in fact, a soul lurking beneath. Örenli’s artistic method has been developed around collecting elements of different media and then shifting through these, separating, investigating, and finally recombining them like an alchemist to create a unique and novel language of art. Applying the fundamental rule of existence in nature that every entity consists of a combination of one element with another,
use the same method to create a new mixture of artistic media and various subject matters such as socioeconomic and political realities and illusions. This is to find new ways in which aspects of life, nature, and the urban environment fuse to form a new reality.
The same method will be realized in the installation of the exhibition, Money without Nationality. Each work, whether drawing, painting, sculpture, photograph, or poetry, will become a living element of the site-specific installation that together transforms into a constellation within the exhibition space and reveals a new reality. For this particular installation, the constellation will be accompanied by light and sound. The main lights of the exhibition space will be switched off at thirty minute intervals, causing disorientation among the viewers as they explore the darkened space. Shortly after, a sound/song will gradually fill the space, and slowly one light will illuminate a specific work, revealing and throwing into shadow by turn individual works as a nod to the story High Heels.
* Summary of the story High Heels by Turkish writer Ömer Seyfettin(1884-1920)
A young woman marries a rich 66-year-old man. After her husband’s death, the woman, Lady Hatice, continues to live in her mansion in the company of her servants. She wears high heels at home, but one day, suffering from back pain, she consults a doctor. The doctor tells her to stop wearing the heels, since they are cause of her back pain. Now there are many servants who work for Lady Hatice in the mansion. She has always believed that they are nice, trustworthy people, almost like a family, really. But when she puts away her high heels that by their clacking had always made her approach known, she starts to hear her servants speaking ill of her, and notices that they have been stealing from her. She fires the lot of them and over the next two years has to continuously hire new servants, until one day she grows tired of this ordeal and goes back to wearing her high heels again at home in the mansion.
About the Artist
Fahrettin Örenli (b.1969, Turkey) lives and works between Amsterdam, Istanbul and Seoul. He studied at Gerrit Rietveld Academie and Rijksakademie Van Beeldende Kunsten, Netherlands. He participated in artist-in-residence programs at the MMCA residency Changdong (2017); Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center, Istanbul (2006-2007) and ISCP, NY (2003). Örenli was awarded the ABN AMRO Art Prize, Amsterdam (2004) and the Royal Painting Prize, Amsterdam (2000). His works were shown in several international institutions and exhibitions like the Museum of Antioquia, Medellín (2017); DEPO, Istanbul (2016); Stedelijk Museum Bureau, Amsterdam (2015); Istanbul Modern, Istanbul (2014). His next solo exhibition will be shown at Pi ArtWorks (London) and Project Fulfill Art Space (Taipei) in 2018.