Su İş / Water Work



09.03 – 14.04.2013

Artists: Maurice Abath, Melis Bagatir, Manuel Beltràn, Áron Birtalan, Serpil Çetinkaya, Merve Denizci, Alican Durbaş, Serap Gümüşoğlu, Naci Güneş Güven, Claudia Hansen, Pim van der Heiden, Roel Heremans, Frederic Janssen, Hacer Kıroğlu, Volkan Kızıltunç, Davut Köse, Sterre Konjin, Lucas Kramer, Can Kurucu, Ilgın Özer, Gisella Ripoll, Ronald Schelfhout, Recep Serbest, Daniel Slabovsky, Özer Toraman, Egemen Tuncer

Curators: Mürteza Fidan, Vincent W. J. van Gerven Oei, Melih Görgün, Gosse de Kont


Mürteza Fidan, Vincent W. J. van Gerven Oei, Melih Görgün, Gosse de Kont


Where do you belong and how can you help others? The first question categorizes people living together in different places, whereas the second one interconnects places with people living together: how may both be imagined at the same time?

How may we unify the use of the rigid, deterministic, narrative time of our conventional identities, fundamental beliefs, and the commitment to our disposition that is formed in traditional enclosed spaces, cells, and gardens surrounded by walls, with the time of the others? How may we think about time and space starting first from what brings people together?

The Bosphorus is a junction where various city centers intersect; it is a cross-over of worldwide trends. İstanbul is a city that is open to the impressions of the other cities. This, on one hand, enables getting closer to other people, yet on the other hand it gives the opportunity to search for and crystallize the meaning of happenings that seems senseless or just coincidental in their intimacy. However, the emotional awareness of speed and mobility created by the economical time of global circulation in İstanbul results in the decrement of the stimulation of spaces.

Under the heavy influence of global mobility, the desire of free circulation is highly stimulated also in İstanbul. Having defeated the emotional requirements of the places they visit, modern, mobile individuals now increasingly face suppression of sensation. In other words, mobility desensitizes the body.

İstanbul fills up with places surrendered to the speed and the movement of the individuals and becomes one of the many cities defeated by circulation – the dominant value of our time.

The creation of a multi-cultural city with the rhizomatic people from all around the world entails a problem for the subjectification of the individual in circulation. Another issue would be the challenge posed by circulation to the experience of space; because of circulation’s opposition to the experience of space and the interrelation of individuals and things, space itself emerges as a new problematic.

In a multi-cultural city, how may we develop new interactive circumstances against the suppression of sensation and the excuses for the absorbance f differences? This is more a matter of observing the roles of beliefs, attitudes, and prohibitions. It is necessary to eliminate the perception of cultures as exclusionist ghettos; rather, we should find ways to ease the transition from a culture to another. This is not only about specifying the necessary conditions for communication between different cultures.

More than that, we are aiming at building an awareness of cultural differences and transforming this into a tool for the artists of the workshop to self-evaluate their own behaviors. Rather than seeing a harmony or disharmony between two or more cultures, we expect the artists as individuals to observe how they re-form and divide themselves during the transition between the cultures. The bottom line is to act as a subject and this necessitates paving one’s own path, moving forward on it, developing a personal narrative out of facts and people around and hence, walking toward oneself.


Xerxes was very angry when he learned of the disaster, and gave orders that the Hellespont should receive three hundred lashes and have a pair of fetters thrown into it. I have heard before now that he also sent people to brand it with hot irons. (Herodotus, Histories 7.35)

Since old, the Bosphorus has figured as site, metaphor, and material of İstanbul as a city on the border of continents, religions, and languages. For millennia, İstanbul, the old Byzantium and Constantinople, has been the capital of empires, and again today, it finds itself as a major city in one the fastest growing economies in the world.

In the fluid history through which İstanbul is stil moving, the Bosphorus, its location, geography, and weather, has been one of the main actors: inhibiting or facilitating migration from West to East and vice versa, trading between the Euxine and Mediterranean Seas, as locus of economic circulation, urban gentrification, and drifting populations, as symbol of division and cohesion. In all its continuously changing appearances, it has remained paradoxically the only continuous factor in the successions of historic ruptures.

On another level, the water of the Bosphorus also symbolizes to incessant mixing, and sulandırılmış (watering down) of ethnic, political, and religious movements that bridged its flow. Whether court plots slowly sinking into marshes of political intrigue, the washing away of urban liberties by rural customs, or the dilation of ideological motives in the whirlpool of economic boom.

Due to its geographical positioning, its form and shape, the Bosphorus cannot be ignored in daily İstanbul life. It needs to be crossed by boat or by bridge, housing prices depend on its view, and suburbanity is defined by its absence. No longer a border, it is of constant influence on everyday movements, slowing down traveling time as a relatively empty interpunction between cars and crowds, a flat surface as a counterpoint to the hills rising up on both shores. The Bosphorus allows İstanbul to breathe.

The research project Su İş attempts to investigate and engage the Bosphorus in its metaphorical, site-specific, geographical, economic, and historical aspects. How does the Bosphorus operate as actor within contemporary İstanbul, not unlike the body of water Xerxes was so eager to punish after a storm had destroyed the bridge he had built to invade Greece with.

Four weeks of in situ research will form the basis of a series of interventions whose documentation is presented in this exhibition entitled Su İş (Water Work) in Siemens Sanat Art Gallery, on the shores of the Bosphorus.

The final exhibition includes works by Maurice Abath, Melis Bagatir, Manuel Beltrán, Áron Birtalan, Serpil Çetinkaya, Merve Denizci, Alican Durbaş, Serap Gümüşoğlu, Naci Güneş Güven, Claudia Hansen, Pim van der Heiden, Roel Heremans, Frederic Janssen, Hacer Kıroğlu, Volkan Kızıltunç, Davut Köse, Sterre Konijn, Lucas Kramer, Can Kurucu, Ilgın Özer, Gisella Ripoll, Ronald Schelfhout, Recep Serbest, Daniel Slabosky, Özer Toraman and Egemen Tuncer.

The research project Su İş is initiated and curated by Ass. Prof. Mürteza Fidan (Fine Arts Department, Marmara University, İstanbul), Dr. Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei (Interfaculty ArtScience, Royal Academy of Art, The Hague), Prof. T. Melih Görgün (Design Department, Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts, İstanbul) and Gosse de Kort MMus BArch (Interfaculty ArtScience/T.I.M.E. Department, Royal Academy of Art / Royal Conservatoire, The Hague).

Read the press release: 16046_1_web_duyuru_eng_su_is (1)

For more information about the project:



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