On May 1, 2012 while hundreds of thousands of people filled the streets of Istanbul to speak out and demonstrate, Jeffrey Baykal-Rollins created a silent action by removing political statements hung on the city’s walls along with posters of popular culture events. The “Iconoclast” works were made by burning, deforming, and drawing upon these layers of iconic imagery from everyday social and political life, exploring the way certain signs become recycled again and again through different contexts.
İkon features new drawings and installations by Jeffrey Baykal-Rollins as well as an art performance on the opening night at Sabanci University Minerva Han in Karakoy, Istanbul, June 6.
The exhibition is composed of three interlinked sections: Icon, Iconostasis, and Iconoclast, each exploring the power invested in iconic images, both sacred and profane.
The “Icon” performance parallels the two installations, utilizing many of the same symbols, both visually in the form of banners, flags and placards reproducing images from the drawings, and a spoken text which interweaves excerpts from Arab Spring speeches into a poetic discourse on the drastic political changes of today.
“In this times of complex social changes, artists can offer the opportunity to discover and understand our relationship to the imagery that we are being exposed to and that is being framed as ‘iconic’ change in media controlled and highly politicized discourses.” said Lanfranco Aceti, Kasa Gallery Director.
Whose Silence Are You? was performed on December 10, 2011 by Jeffrey Baykal-Rollins and Leyla Levi at the gate of Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul. This fifteen-minute performance was comprised of passages from Thomas Merton’s “Message to Poets” performed in Turkish and English, during the ceremonial changing of the guard. (photo by Alex Downs)
Whose Silence Are You? are site-specific responses to poetic texts set in Istanbul’s public spaces. These three installation and performance works are based upon the poems of Thomas Merton. Becoming Istanbul explores contemporary Istanbul through an interactive database of over 400 media. An up-to-date collection of artists’ videos, photography series, documentaries, news reports, cartoons and architectural projects, the database is organized according to 80 concepts that instrumentalize typical discourses relating to the city and suggest new points of view. Its media include the visual productions of artists and researchers who have problematized actors and phenomena typically disregarded in urban discourse, as well as the declarations of decision makers involved in Istanbul’s current transformations. The exhibition’s structure is far from linear. Each viewer may chart his or her own course through the database, making each experience of Becoming Istanbul original.