Sheffield Fringe

Metaphorical Space

10 May – 3 Jun 2018

Bostanbaşı Cd 10,
Firuzağa Mh.
Istanbul, Turkey 34420

Metaphorical Space
Rivoli Cinema in Cairo, Egypt, Jan. 26, 1952, set on fire during the rioting. (AP Photo)


With works by Alaa AlhassounKeywan KarimiLouis HendersonSibel HoradaMetehan ÖzcanNeriman PolatÖzge TopçuPınar Öğrenci, and Selini Halvadaki.

The exhibition Metaphorical Space examines the relationship of social movements with space, authority, and memory. Similar to carnivals, collective movements take place when people from different ages, ethnic or social groups take over the city for a short time. The city’s squares appear to turn into a theater scene. What differentiates uprisings from carnivals, however, is that in uprisings authorities and civilians confront each other; infringement of rights and spatial threats can develop in parallel to each other. The power of politics traces its own cultural and political language on architecture and the city, while civilians continue to defend symbolic spaces that are held in esteem in the collective memory, and are part of what Hannah Arendt calls the “field of appearance.” The city is now a stage for a rematch. The reference point for the exhibition is Louis Henderson’s “The Day Before the Fires” (2012) video, inspired by the 1952 Cairo Fire, also known as Black Saturday. The fire was the result of protests in Cairo that started as an anti-colonial movement, causing significant damage to buildings that were deemed to be the symbols of colonialism. Many historians have compared the Arab Spring in Tahrir Square to the Cairo Fire. Metaphorical Space takes as a beginning point urban spaces that have been the stage for cyclical social movements similar to that of Cairo as an action of ‘remembering’. Metaphorical Space explores spatial ‘stories’ from cities such as Athens, Cairo, Aleppo, Tehran, Izmir, all of which have been the stage for oppositional movements spanning from the post WWI era – an era of nation and ‘modern’ society building – to the present day. The exhibition opens out to thinking about ‘metaphoric’ meanings of space as an alternative to established ways of thinking about urban and architectural productions of form within the frameworks of war, revolution, colonialism, military regime and rebellion movements. – Pınar Öğrenci (translation: Merve Ünsal)

Metaphorical Space is organized by Pınar Öğrenci and Minou Norouzi. In conjunction with the exhibition, Keywan Karimi’s film Writing on the City will be screened at SALT Beyoğlu on May 12, 2018.

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After Smyrne, the remains of a destroyed artwork

After Smyrne, the remains of a destroyed artwork | Sibel Horada | Turkey 2012-2014 | Mixed media installation: ashes, nails, plexiglass

After Smyrne is derived from “Fire Chronicles”, a process and interaction-based work initiated by Sibel Horada at her first solo exhibition in Istanbul (June 2012). It deals with fire as a moment of radical transformation and consists of found objects, burnt objects, images and inkless notes on remembering, forgetting, time, history and identity. Shown here is a site-specific section of the “Fire Chronicles”. The installation includes the few crates which escaped the destruction of the initial structure and begins to resemble a memorial site.

Alteration Museum

Alteration Museum | Özge Topçu | Turkey 2017 | Hand Made Artist Book

The works collected inside this Alteration Museum draw on a range of Topçu’s previous books, drawings, paperworks and installations. Through these different mediums, Topçu sought to explore the synchronicity between the change on the facades of the buildings and people’s appearances during the early revolutionary period of 1923-1943. Topçu aimed to create playful artefacts of alteration which explore parallels between the morphological properties of modernist architecture and the restructuring of Turkish society.

Nature Morte

Nature Morte | Özge Topçu | 2017 | Concrete sculptures

The Day Before The Fires

The Day Before The Fires | Louis Henderson | UK 2012 | HD | 9 min 33s

Louis Henderson set out on January 25th in 2012 retracing the path of the Cairo Fire of 1952 – also known as Black Saturday. A single long take of just over nine minutes, recorded from a moving vehicle, takes us on a journey through sections of contemporary Cairo on a bright, sunny day. Set against this we hear Henderson’s gently acquiescent voice reading from Mahmood Hussein’s 1977 book Class Conflict in Egypt, 1945-1970. The people joining in the uprising, we hear, were “made up of the dispossessed masses, joined by groups of workers and members of the petty bourgeoisie”. Their target: the domain, and the symbols of imperialism. Henderson’s The Day Before the Firesemanates a sense of calm whilst assuming the character of a threat. The threat resides in the knowledge of a ‘catastrophe’ that we know happened, but here it never arrives into view. The film traces the line between past and present with a haunting, almost musical cacophony of ambulance and police sirens recorded by Abdulrahmen Mahmoud Korany at Tahrir Square on January 25th 2011 – the advent of Egypt’s Arab Spring.- M. Norouzi

The Shadow of a Tree in Taksim Square

The Shadow of a Tree in Taksim Square | Pınar Öğrenci | Turkey 2017 | C-Print

Pınar Öğrenci’s photograph The Shadow of a Tree in Taksim Square is an image from her video New Buildings in Destruction. There are holes that people have drilled into the wood barricades that surround the construction of the tunnel in the square. Some of these passive viewers will claim agency to become active members of the Gezi Resistance that would begin in two months, taking over the square and Gezi Park to defend their urban rights, albeit temporarily. The shadow of the tree on the wood panel is a harbinger of the resistance that would begin soon.


Off-History | Selini Halvadaki | Denmark/Greece 2014 | HD | 19 min 11s

Selini Halvadaki’s video Off-History presents as its central ‘character’ an unfinished building located at the port of Piraeus, Greece’s main harbour. The ominous presence of this tall structure – abandoned during construction – sits with a sense of unease amongst the lively buildings of Piraeus. Searching for its history, the artist runs up against the “logic” of the archive. For the viewer, as for the artist, the building and its fragmented history appears only when the crutches of structure and logic are abandoned. We hear diverse voices suggesting what the building’s state of incompletion represents for them: it is a tomorrow that did not happen; it is democracy mismanaged; it is both the forgetting and the remembering of Junta. In Off-History, fragmentation has its very own unique way of presenting itself as a form of narrative. To those who are attuned, its agency is contingency.- M. Norouzi

Writing on the City

Writing on the City | Keywan Karimi | Iran 2015 | Documentary feature | 60 min

Walls are critical sites. They rise with cities and call on faces, names, and the written word; those strong and those weak, slogans, poems, and anthems. We read the walls to discover the dwellers’ dreams, who they believe is sovereign, as well as those who believe in changing the status quo. We realize how dissatisfied people come out of their hiding places to write something on the wall in darkness, looking to the future, turning their back on the past. No wall, even if totally white, could be found without a trace of markers and sprays. Walls and writing never separate; this eternal promise is called writing on the city. – K. Karimi

Home Style

Home Style | Neriman Polat | Turkey 2008 | C-Print (series)

Home Style is a series of photographs of basement level dwellings tracing social and spatial injustice. With every change of the city’s administration and the ensuing gentrification of urban space, the light decreases for those who live at basement level. The artist photographs their windows, and arranges the images next to each other at floor level. Like the setting sun, the basement windows appear to get smaller with each photograph in the installation.


Observation | Metehan Özcan | Turkey 2012 | Photography series

There are things in life that are sometimes best left undocumented. A lover’s touch, a smile, a moment of generosity, a moment compassion, a moment of cruelty are all things that us, photographers, artists, imagine to somehow evoke and yet remain helpless when in the presence of the actual experience. Grieving the loss of a crucial herald of an underrepresented cultural, religious and ethnic minority in Turkey, is one such extended moment. It is such a moment that the impact on many individuals who were walking on the fifth anniversary of Hrant Dink’s murder and those who were watching what took place from their screens around the world, could not be political or general; it was a collective personal grief that was scarring and absolute, which was deepened by the state’s denial of what took place. Metehan Özcan’s turning his camera to those who were observing the walk is a poignant gesture. Özcan does not document the walk grieving Dink’s loss and protesting his trial. Instead, he turns his camera to the buildings in which people are watching the walk. — Merve Ünsal


Silence | Alaa Alhassoun | Turkey 2018 | Ink on paper, series

Right after completing his training in art, Alaa Alhassoun was confronted with war in Syria. He moved from Cairo to Gaziantep and then to Hatay, finally settling in Istanbul in 2016. In his Silence series (2018) the memory of war is experienced through the aliveness coming forth in the fast-paced multiplicity of images produced. Objects, buildings and people become indistinguishable. In Alhassoun’s words, when there is nothing more to destroy “silence” begins.