Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin’s works on view at MoMA
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Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin’s works 'Pension Cadiz', 'Hotel Bristol' and 'Hotel Estambul', all from the H-Fact: Hospitality/Hostility series (2003-07) are currently on view at the 'Scenes for a New Heritage' collection exhibition at MoMA in New York until 10 April 2016.
Alptekin’s work ‚Hospitality/Hostility’ refers to hotel signs, which reappear in Alptekin’s works in various media over the course of his career. The artist started taking photographs of hotel signs in Istanbul, which showed names of international places such as Bristol, Cadiz, Berlin, Dallas or Padova in the 1980s. The artist was fascinated by the aesthetics of the side-streets rather than the grand boulevards. The project grew over the following decades with international travels, eventually turning into plexi hotel sign installations. These signs tell the story of Alptekin’s encounters and travels and relate to ideas of nomadism, relocation as well as memories and longing of certain places.
‚Scenes for a New Heritage’ is the new reinstallation of MoMA’s Contemporary Galleries. This cross-medium selection of works, created in the past three decades by more than 30 international artists, represents a wide range of approaches to the political, social, and cultural flux that have shaped the current global landscape. Some of these artists use the lens of history—reflecting on past events or centuries-old artistic traditions—as a means of assessing current conditions. In 'Scene for a New Heritage', the project that lends the exhibition its title, Croatian artist David Maljković uses an abandoned socialist monument to imagine an alternate future, one informed by events of the past but never realized. Other artists fight to stave off collective amnesia through projects of commemoration; trace the crosscurrents of trade; follow patterns of migration to swelling urban centers; or explore channels for capturing, circulating, and distributing images in today’s highly digitized society—from mobile phones to online platforms. Made under a diverse range of geographic, political, social, and aesthetic circumstances, the works in the exhibition propose one perspective on the Museum’s collection; seen alongside one another, they allow for a reflection not only on their discrepancies, differences, and contradictions, but also on their shared concerns.
Artist, writer, lecturer and curator Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin (b.1957, Ankara d. 2007, Istanbul) studied Aesthetics, Philosophy of Art and Sociology in Ankara and Paris. He then worked as a photographer for SIPA Press and wrote for various publications as an art and design critic in addition to lecturing at Ankara Bilkent University and İstanbul Bilgi University. Starting in the early 1990s, Alptekin focused on art practice guided by travel, personal histories and archives that explored the effects of globalization, immigration, exile, cross cultural image circulation and anonymous production. His diverse body of work – consisting of photo installations, collages, videos, objects and, once, a life-size truck overloaded with colorful plastic soccer balls – represents a multi-layered, complex visual language. From 2000-2004 Alptekin ran a non-profit artists’ collective called ‘Sea Elephant Travel Agency’ (SETA).Inspired by Jules Verne’s novel Kéraban-le-Têtu, he gathered artists, curators, musicians, architects, historians and scientists to board a boat that sailed from Istanbul to various ports around the Black Sea, following the route of the novel’s protagonist. The online version of SETA, launched by InEnArt and SALT Research in memory of Alptekin in the Spring of 2013, invites artists and art professionals to participate in an ongoing visual and performing arts laboratory that aims to transcend labels and borders.