Centre of Gravity

18 September 2005 - 15 January 2006

"Centre of Gravity", İstanbul Modern’s first international exhibition, was curated by celebrated art critic Rosa Martínez and facilitated by Türk Ekonomi Bankası, the exhibition’s main sponsor.

"Centre of Gravity" assembles the works of 13 prominent international figures in contemporary art – Janine Antoni, Pilar Albarracín, Ghada Amer, Monica Bonvicini, Louise Bourgeois, Christian Boltanski, Anish Kapoor, Rem Koolhaas, Jeff Koons, Juan Muñoz, Santiago Sierra, Richard Wentworth, and Maaria Wirkkala – and three leading names from Turkey – Haluk Akakçe, Gülsün Karamustafa and Kemal Önsoy.

Other institutions companies that have helped to make the exhibition possible are Petrol Ofisi, the British Council, the Frame - Finnish Fund for Art Exchange and Bautek İnşaat.

Interrelating many levels of meaning and multiple aesthetic perspectives, "Centre of Gravity" marks certain significant moments in the aesthetic production of the past few decades, presenting artists of international renown.

The exhibition coincides with the celebration of the 9th International Biennial of Istanbul and other cultural events that complement one another, turning the city into a genuine international centre of gravity.

The name of the exhibition, "Centre of Gravity", is ripe with meaning. Not only does it refer to the continuous play between equilibrium and uncertainty to create new and meaningful conceptual and aesthetic worlds, it also refers to the multiplicity of trends in contemporary art and the emergence of new geographical centres of cultural significance. In this sense, the exhibition brings together the search for individual balance and the balance between the periphery and centre of contemporary art.

The title of this first international exhibition also plays with the idea of İstanbul Modern as a new gravitational centre in relation to its geopolitical area and to the global context of new international museums.

According to İstanbul Modern’s chief curator Rosa Martínez, all of the works displayed in "Centre of Gravity" are propounded as centres for condensing meaning in order to transform the exhibition into a place for symbolic exchange between artists and the community.

One of the main tasks of museums, Martínez asserts, is to "help form critical and sensitive citizens and promote new aesthetic and political dialogues." "Aesthetic experience implies a breach in the automatic reading of signs, for it reflects and subverts representational space proposing new gazes, new reflections," she says.

Rosa Martínez recalls Paul Valéry’s assertion that poetic creation is the creation of expectation, and that political hope for social change can also be included in this will. "Today," she says, "it is necessary to encourage new relations based on desire, to establish transferences with people, objects or symbolic systems to favour the creation of that ‘transferential plasticity’ that will help us recover and heal the world in which we live. Expectation, pleasure and reflection are what we hope this exhibition, within its bounds, will help to generate."

The artists in "Centre of Gravity present works that are subtly united by an invisible common thread: that of reflection on equilibrium, either in the physical, the psychological, the cultural or the political sphere.

Curator: Rosa Martínez

İstanbul Modern’s Sculpture Garden hosts an inflatable model of an unrealized architectural project for the city of Bangkok by Rem Koolhaas, whose architectural designs strive to build bridges between technology and people.

Creating a site-specific installation, renowned British sculpture Richard Wentworth has hung hundreds of books from the ceiling of the museum’s ground floor, transforming the space into a platform for aesthetic and conceptual discussion.

Reinterpreting death, identity, history, and social and historical memory, Christian Boltanski’s exclusive installation for İstanbul Modern is an interactive exercise that turns the museum into a place that welcomes visitors’ memories. Viewers are invited to bring photos from their family album to the museum, where they are photocopied before shaping a huge collective mural.

Louise Bourgeois, the "collector of spaces and memories", continues to search for the sublime through her autobiographical art. For this exhibition, the 93 year old artist has chosen two sculptures and lithographs she made in 2004 that demonstrate her vitality and talent for continuing to translate emotional tensions, relations of identification and dependence and the energy of the unconscious in a constant search for sublimation.

Jeff Koons’ "Three Ball Total Equilibrium Tank", entailed a surprising artistic challenge that was only overcome through multiple attempts and the support of Nobel prize-winner physicist Richard Feynman.

Anish Kapoor’s poetic works identify new tools that people can use or apply in their quest for poetic beauty and that broaden our phenomenological perception.

In her video, Gülsün Karamustafa confronts memories of a public space with intimate situations in the domestic sphere, while sending a salutation to all of the world’s city squares renowned for their historical and political past.(With the contrubutions of PETROL OFİSİ)

Pilar Albarracín presents a fascinating video performance that investigates both the clichés that symbolize her Andalusian identity and the stories of everyday life.

The two works by Monica Bonvicini in the show are sarcastic analyses of architecture conceived as an exercise of power, a sexual metaphor or a repetitive and ultimately melancholy process.

The changing virtual constructions by Haluk Akakçe invite beholders to sail through placid spaces and evocative atmospheres, and embody the idea of constant fluctuations as the basis of a possible order.(With the contrubutions of PETROL OFİSİ)

Kemal Önsoy condenses numerous references to the ephemeral and unsteady nature in a helicoid styrofoam sculpture.(With the contrubutions of PETROL OFİSİ)

Known for his commentary on the political and social problems of the global world, Santiago Sierra’s project presents a critique of social inequalities.

Seeking to do away with the lack of communication between people, nations and cultures, Maaria Wirkkala’s work is inspired by a desire to symbolically link the two banks of the Bosphorus.

Renown for his fascinating and terrifying set designs, Juan Muñoz’s sculpture symbolizes the violence on which our world stands.
(With the contrubutions of BAUTEK)

Renown for her reinterpretation of daily rituals and her works about "balance", Janine Antoni exhibits a video installation in which she tries to walk a tightrope that is aligned with the horizon of the sea.

Ghada Amer questions the place of women in the modern world and re-appropriates the tradition of Abstract Expressionist painting while she reflects on power and submission to the dominant linguistic and ideological strategies and consciously creates beautiful and decorative compositions.