The Great M.P. in Istanbul is a multilayered project. An artist book book, lavishly illustrated and bound, result of three different campaigns of work in the city; a seminar with students at Bilgi University, and a show with 30 new installations conceived for the space BM SUMA; all together give to this show the depth of a true experience and cultural exchange. Curated by Beral Madra and Vittorio Urbani.
curated by Beral Madra and Vittorio Urbani
First solo show in an art space of Istanbul, “The Great M.P. in Istanbul” by Maurizio Pellegrin is a multilayered project. An artist book book, lavishly illustrated and bound, result of three different campaigns of work in the city; a seminar with students at Bilgi University, and a show with 30 new installations conceived for the space BM SUMA; all together give to this show the depth of a true experience and cultural exchange.
Maurizio Pellegrin (born in Venice, Italy, 1958) is an artist who mixes different visual art practices with film making and theoretical and writing skills. He is a complete figure of artist/intellectual in the purest tradition of the XX° Century, needed more now than ever before, in a time of superficial, commercially oriented messages and under almost total media dominion. The artistic work for the show crosses the boundaries of mixed media artistic interventions, scholarly research, performance and film making, and is the result of a wide-reaching research on the field conducted as team work in collaboration between the artist, BM SUMA CAC, the Italian Cultural Institute of Istanbul and Nuova Icona of Venice.
Hidden behind his name initial letters, the artists take on Istanbul is autobiographical. So much, because he has lived and worked in Istanbul in three different periods, to collect images, ideas and experiences. The fruit of this period of life is a book, with the same title as the show. Not an art catalogue nor a guide of Istanbul, this publication is a bit of these and also a visual diary, a reference book, a testimony of the research carried in the city of Istanbul.
In locations throughout all of Istanbul selected with the widest sweep of the eye, Pellegrin has cast shadows of his work, has left objects (meaningful but also mysterious), has tied threads. The artist's signature work can be defined as an act of recalling to memory, of reciting spells, of putting together pieces separated long ago and making them alive again. In the installations and film frames used for the book, Pellegrin adopts photography and video for their immediacy of discourse, for their aptitude to convey the intimacy of personal experience, and the flow of a fresh, new narrative based on the old tradition of visual realism. A realism reborn for the necessity to reopen the dialogue between the artist and society. The images of the book are the outcome of actions, a contribution to the existing memories of Istanbul, but also a new production themselves, upon which an infinite subsequent series of actions and memories can be built.
One of the possible readings of this oeuvre is that of a controlled complexity. Many elements are held together as if casually; but they find an overall order and a superior meaning by their own apparently random gathering, the author's signature given by the juxtaposition of objects or images on a given, already existing reality. Are the "given images" which Pellegrin adjusts on the already way too complex and layered face of Istanbul able to make an effect? To change the substance they are attempting a dialogue with it? Are they fruitful grafts, or only decorative tattoos? Should we even suspect the artist of acting as a cannibal on the over-nourishing body of Istanbul, city of so many memories? Maybe one possible answer is that Pellegrin's interventions are grafts of meaning: offering a distortion or interpretation of the original meanings, they contribute critically to make them deeper. These images bring to their support complexity, fascination, and act both as a commentary from the artist's point of view and as a catalyst, freeing emotions. All through Pellegrin's work we find signs of autobiography. Places visited, or read about, or dreamt of; people which are part of his life or have been just short encounters. The artist talks, remembers, alludes, describes, presents, cries and ironically describes the human condition. With his attitude towards the existence the artist tries to encounter himself, in a perpetual movement of removing and approaching. The existential thematic of love, death, desire, presence, absence, dream, are constantly touched. It emerges also a sometimes transience of solitude, somehow mitigated by the use of irony.
“The Great M. P. in Istanbul” is an encounter of the artist with the city of Istanbul but also with himself. Beside the title, it is not a celebration of power or success but a celebration of his impossibilities, his own mortality, and all his difficulty to connect with the surrounding world.
“I had the privilege to work and dream in Istanbul, and the antique tale between my city of Venice and the city of Istanbul seems had never been interrupted. Two so marvellous civilizations are together again in a perpetual exchange. The enchantment lies in that subtle diaphragm between the spirit of the population, the geography, the historical sites, and the new energy that looks forward.
All of this emerges silently and without any rhetoric. The effort for this project has been quite long and relevant for me, but the task of learning and growing it is always demanding. This work for Istanbul is inspired by many different states of mind, and I have created a site specific work for each place that I have encountered and dreamed about it. I am considering this as a sort of dream because my approach to the things of the world it is always poetic." Artist's statement. (text by Vittorio Urbani). All the works on show are new, conceived as site specific work in the form of installation particularly designed for BM SUMA spaces.
Opening of show and book launch, on 22 November 2008, Saturday, 5 pm.
The exhibition has been produced by BM SUMA CAC and Nuova Icona (Venice), with the support of Italian Cultural Institute (Istanbul)
BM SUMA Contemporary Art Center
Suma Han, Voyvoda cad., Yanikkapi sok. no.3#2 (Bankalar caddesi) / Karaköy-Istanbul
The gallery is open every day except Sunday and Monday from 12 am to 6 pm