Cevdet Erek


Kunsthalle Basel proudly presents the first institutional solo show in Europe by Istanbul-based artist Cevdet Erek.

Each of Erek’s pieces, rather than originating in the studio and bound to a particular medium, formulates a statement responding to a specific context, employing various media and formats which fit best to make the idea visible – or just to evoke it with only the most modest of visual investment. To that end, Erek often works with ephemeral formats such as live sound and performance. The artist’s interest in sound and rhythm is rooted in his larger curriculum. Erek studied architecture at Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts in Istanbul and then worked for four years in an architectural firm. He has also been involved since early on in Istanbul’s vibrant music scene and today, aside from holding a PhD from the Faculty of Music at the Center for Advanced Studies in Music, at Istanbul Technical University, he plays drums in an avant-rock band Nekropsi which he co-founded in Istanbul.

The exhibition at Kunsthalle Basel features Week (2012), a new work conceived for the spacious, sky-lit gallery on the upper floor of the Kunsthalle. In addition to the installation in the exhibition space, a large flashing LED sign has been placed in the window above the main entrance to the Kunsthalle, announcing the WEEK (2012) to passers-by on the street below. This changes the expression of the sober, neo-classical façade of the building into that of a late night music venue, unlikely to be found in the otherwise stately neighbourhood of Grossbasel, the old city centre, home to museums, theatres, galleries and other places of interest that are associated with high culture. However, at the same time, Barfüsserplatz, the iconic city square is located a hundred metres down the street from the Kunsthalle and remains the favourite spot for the local youth from Basel and the entire agglomeration, who meet there on Friday and Saturday night before disappearing into bars and clubs along the Steinenvorstadt, a buzzing and trashy pedestrian street that ends (or begins) at the square. The WEEK sign makes a connection to the nightlife around the square, but as the exhibition of Cevdet Erek is open only during the day, an important difference between a club and an art venue becomes apparent. Another LED-based piece, Day (2011), is installed in the exhibition space – units of blue light interspersed by dark intervals travel along the single LED module and represent all the days of Erek’s exhibition, each one reduced to a specific number of pixels, equivalent to the changes in the duration of daytime in Basel between January 12 and March 4, where one diode emitting the light stands for one minute of daytime.

The main inspiration of Erek’s work at the Kunsthalle is the typical space of a club – such as the notorious Weekend club in Berlin. Usually the entrance to a club involves a corridor leading from the outside world into the inner space, a passage that leaves no time for adjusting the guest’s perception: the change of circumstances between the normalcy of daily life outside and the celebration of the week-end night’s victory over the sun is radical and short. The club is a social space defined by a number of carefully orchestrated elements that build up to a total assault on the senses: the beat of the music, the lights and smoke, the heat of the crowd, the alcohol and drugs. All of this is precisely what is usually excluded in the experience of a museumgoer.

The Week addresses the central issue of Cevdet Erek’s multifarious practice: the mutual translation and permeability between the seemingly different systems of representation, through which we apprehend the world around us and organize our lives: measurements of space (metric system), time (calendar and clock) and musical tempo – measured as a steady number of beats per minute. The artist conflates these seemingly objective measurement systems with other, apparently random ones, such as the timeline of historical events or a changing rhythm in musical improvisation.

The architecture of the show has been constructed around the rectangle of the room’s imposing skylight, emphasizing the fact that contrary to a club, the exhibition is to be perceived only in daylight (replaced by artificial light only twice – during the opening and on the following night, during the “Night of Museums”). A totemic column of a sound-system (Turbosound, used in clubs and for outdoor rock concerts) is located in the centre of the space. The beat (samples of acoustical drum sound) is stripped bare and functions as a diagram; rather than aural seduction taking control over the visitor’s body and soul, it is used as a simple, almost graphical representation, the minimum of sound. The sound of the piece is composed as an aural “grid” made of seven beats based on the unnatural and human-made division of the week, and its inner units – seven days. These seven days are played in several different versions combined in one loop, in Erek’s Week.

The exhibition is generously supported by:
Regent Lighting, george foundation

Supported by: MIAM, Istanbul Technical University

Cevdet Erek (*1974 Istanbul/TR) lives and works in Istanbul. Erek studied 1992-1999 architecture at the Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts Istanbul and 2000-2003 sound engineering and design at the Center for Advanced Studies in Music of Istanbul Technical University. In 2005-2006 he was artist in residence at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam. In 2011 Erek received a PhD in sound from the Center for Advanced Studies in Music at Istanbul Technical University.

Solo exhibitions (selection): Update, Akinci, Amsterdam (2011); Ahmet Cevdet Bey, duo show with Ahmet Öğüt, Overgaden, Copenhagen (2011); El Ele, duo show with Anna Boghiguian, Rodeo Gallery, Istanbul (2009); Ankara Modern 1, Masa, Istanbul (2009); Side by Side, m3, Göteborg (2009); On the day I fix a turbine to my belly, Lokaal 1, Antwerp (2009); A Few Retrospectives, Galerie Akinci, Amsterdam (2008). Group exhibitions (selection): Untitled, 12th Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul (2011); Aksak Ritim/Odd Time Beat, Rodeo Gallery, Istanbul (2011); Art of Climbing Mountains, 303 Gallery, New York (2011); Tactics of Invisibility, Arter, Istanbul (2011); Out of Place, Darat al Funun, Amman (2011); Out of Place, Tate Modern, Level 2, London (2011); Another Country, IFA, Berlin (2010); Unincorporated, Manzara Perspectives, Istanbul (2010); Tactics of Invisibility, Tanas, Berlin (2010); Home Works 5, Ashkal Alwan for Contemporary Arts and the Home Works Academy, Beirut (2010); Tactics of Invisibility, TBA21, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Wien (2010); I’m not there, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, New York (2009); Centry – Fugacions, La Capella, Barcelona (2009); Columns Held Us Up, Artists Space, New York (2009); Manifesty Destiny, Extra City, Antwerp (2009); Istanbul, traverses, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Lille (2009); Just in Time, Stedelijk Museum CS, Amsterdam (2006); Poetic Justice, 8th Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul (2003). Performances (selection): Activity Report, Salon, IKSV, Istanbul (2010); Dokuman, together with Taldans, Centre National du Danse, Paris (2010); SSS, Extra City, Antwerp (2009); Independence Month, Artist Space, New York (2009); The day I fix a turbine to my belly, Lokaal 1, Antwerp (2009); Graf, with F. Sizanli, M. Kaplan, E. Devries Istanbul Dance Festival, Istanbul (2008); 4/4, together with Nekropsi, Platform Garanti, Istanbul (2007); SSS, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2006); Unruhe Bitte, together with Alexandra Bachzetsis, Gessneralle, Zurich (2005).