Installation, Performance, C-Prints, 4 Channel Video, 10 Ton Bergama Soil, Vinyl Wall Text
Platform Contemporary Art Center, Istanbul, curated by Vasif Kortun
With Guven Incirlioglu (xurban_collective)
The transferal of archaeological remains from the site of Bergama to the Pergamon Museum in Berlin and the more recent introduction of gold mines that encroach upon the ancient acropolis’ surrounding landscape are considered vis-à-vis by xurban_collective, physically as sites of excavation, destruction, and renewal and in turn ideologically as sites of local and international controversy. In 2005, xurban_collective has researched, observed, and investigated the framework of dialogues between the two neighboring sites of Bergama and the area’s gold mines. In their inquiry, the idea of ‘a dig’ has been applied literally and conceptually to extract and collect evidence of spaces between the archaeological formation and the contextual framework that the site rests on. These voids, as xurban_collective describe them, clarify past and ongoing actions, catastrophes, and forms of recursive treatment that the structures have experienced. Within this discourse, Istanbul sits as a location between sites, a place where nodes of power facilitate and actualize the exploitation of Bergama and of the mining area known as Ovacik. VOID: A View from Acropolis takes place in Istanbul, at Platform Garanti, as an exhibition formed by yet another system of transferal. Earth taken from the area of Bergama and transported to Istanbul rests in a mound in the window of Platform Garanti as a symbol of digging, transferal and void. Large-format photographs depict in minute detail the plants that blanket the archeological ruins in a protective layer, naturally filling voids and hiding excavations of the past. Flanked by time-lapse shots of the hill of Bergama and the mine’s quarry, all these ideas are then condensed and described through gestures and actions, performed and filmed by xurban_collective on site.
Combined these works present a testing ground for political engagement by reflecting upon contemporary social conditions of territory and historical transformation. Just some of the many debates they raise include the hierarchical positioning of memorials; the colonial displacement of local resources overseas; the implementation of archaeological disruption in the search of truth and the ecological effects of cyanide mining. The result is an exhibition or non-museum that correlates in time and place the current controversy of excavation for gold with the existing controversy of the excavation of Bergama.