“Bakunin’s Barricade”, Ahmet Öğüt, 2015/2017. Installation view: ‘No Protest Lost’, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, 2017. Photo by Vignola Gregorio.
“Originality is the best form of rebellion.”
―Mike Sasso, “Being Human: Everything you didn’t want to know about life”
Also important for the artist himself, “NO PROTEST LOST” is the first solo show on Danish soil. The Kurdish artist Ahmet Öğüt, with the curatorship of Henriette Bretton –Meyer, presents itself as an exhibition aimed to analyze and reflect on the contemporary, in a political, artistic and activist way.
“Bakunin’s Barricade” is the work that, starting from 7 December and for the duration of two months, welcomes us in one of the large rooms of the Kunsthal Charlottenborg where the exhibition takes place. This work takes us from the very beginning to go in depth towards the main themes addressed by the artist and reflexes in the title “NO PROTEST LOST”. Here the artist stages a real barricade, composed of numerous and different objects, starting from grates, commonly used to separate two areas, up to real cars, statues and paintings. The title of the work in fact recalls the event in which Mikhail Bakunin, on the occasion of the May Uprising in Dresden, proposed using artifacts and works of the National Museum, as a physical and cultural barrier to stop the Prussian soldiers. Since this never actually happened, Ahmet supports his work with the legal documents that allow anyone to use his work as a real barrier to a future and possible protest.
As is understandable between this first work and the title of the entire exhibition, the themes faced flows through the idea that unites all the works on display. The idea of protest, limitation and censorship is supported by the work “Fahrenheit 451: Reprinted”. In this circumstance everything revolves around texts that were considered “unfit”, and therefore prohibited or censored. In fact the artist, together with a crew of firefighters, wanders around Helsinki becoming a mobile book printing press of these texts.
“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, “The Communist Manifesto”, “Birtakim Insanalar”, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?”, “The Clouds”, “Heremit of Peace” and “Seven Brothers” are the titles of the writings taken by the artist as “specimens”. The idea of censorship and violation are linked to the title and the performance; in fact “Fahrenheit 451” refers directly to the temperature at which the paper catches fire.
Similarly in “The Swinging Doors”, one can witness a logical overturning. What was originally a limit, a barrier, a defense and sometimes a weapon, is transformed into something that instead acts as a passage, as a membrane. Ahmet intelligently decides to use two real riot shields, generally used by police and military, as a channel and due passage, between two halls of the Kunsthal Charlottenborg. In this case, even more than before, the artist creates a circumstance within which the spectator himself becomes the protagonist, put in the condition of having to push, and then move, the barrier created by the shields.
This twofold and at times ambiguous point of view, which the artist tries to underline, appears essential even within “Oscar William Sam”, a work in which the “non-knowledge” makes difficult to us to take a position regarding what is represented through video. Filmed during the September 2011 Wall Street occupation, we observe a hand of the unknown origin, which indicates and “appoints” all those who fall within its zone of action, according to the list of the most used names in the USA. However, what is useful for understanding the game put in place by the artist is precisely the fact that we do not know at what “faction”, position or role, belongs to the man whose hand we are looking at, and of which we hear the voice. Through the welcoming and transformable spaces of the Kunsthal Charlottenborg, a “performance” of videos, installations and interactive works is put in place, in which the viewer is pushed to stand in different roles, in opposite positions, first as a spectator, then as an activist, and then again as a critic and bearer of culture and experience.
Within a dynamic and often evolving exhibition, which does not fail to give surprises and create amazement, Ahmet Öğüt seems to want to awaken and nurture in us the critical spirit, activism, cultural and political mobility, which often appears dormant in us. In a continuous alternation of public and private, art and life, right and wrong, past and future, we are in first person, but also collectively, called to an understanding and a position of right.
Ahmet Ögüt born 1981 in Diyarbakir. He is a conceptual artist living and working mainly in Amsterdam.
He usually works with different media, from photography to installation. He also rapresented Turkey in the Venice Biennial of 2009.
Gregorio / Kunstportal