Ahmet Güneştekin

0212 297 95 86 bilgi@ahmetgunestekin.com


Ahmet Güneştekin

Contemporary Istanbul, September 14 – 17, 2017

Pilevneli Gallery, booth B1-105

Marlborough Gallery, booth A1-103



Decay and Cultural Potential of Memory


Ahmet Gunestekin’s short film Decay which tackles different existence forms of decay and his colossal installation Never there which highlights the cultural potential of a memory narrative, will be displayed at Pilevneli Gallery at 12th Contemporary Istanbul, from September 14 – 17.  A selection of artist’s iconic works will be showcased at Marlborough Gallery separately.

Güneştekin’s short film Decay and his installation Never there provide a source of tension between those who refuse to forget the crimes perpetrated by the state and those who seek to open a new chapter in history. The most important way of breaking the silence about the unspoken experiences of the past is through telling about them. This will not only prevent the forgetting but also it will put the experience into circulation so that more people can learn about it. In a sense, it will break the silence caused by the shock. It is the action that will prepare the ground for the resurrection of the subject / agent.

In Decay, all the subjects and objects are the representations of unquestionable certainty of dogma. Following the argument that the elements of a picture are related to one another in a determinate way represents that things are related to one another in the same way, the artist make visible how objective and subjective conditions shape decay. As suggested by E.M. Cioran, in itself, every idea is neutral, or should be; but man animates ideas, projects his flames and flaws into them; impure, transformed into beliefs, ideas take their place in time, take shape as events: the trajectory is complete, from logic to epilepsy . . . whence the birth of ideologies, doctrines, deadly games. A person who loves a god unduly forces others to love their god. If they refuse to do so, he or she is ready to exterminate them. When we insist on refusing to admit the fact that ideas can be used interchangeably, fall and destruction start. In Decay for Güneştekin, the fall is not the pursuit of a truth and the assurance of finding it and following a truth or attaching or committing yourself to a dogma.

Güneştekin’s installation Never there starts on the premise that the inevitability of the past can be stopped neither by willpower nor reason as it strikes suddenly and unexpectedly. Its power can be suppressed only by violence, ignorance or by a symbolic or actual extermination. The past may not be talked about. However, unless all of the subjects who hold and carry memories are completely annihilated, memories can be erased only to a limited extent and only form wise. In this approach, ordinary subjects become more important. The reason for approaching the past through use of such narratives is the possibility of capturing an alternative perception of the past that is different to the one imposed by those in power. In this context, Güneştekin’s film appears to be an alternative perception of a past.

The experience narrative is dependent on the body and voice of the witness; and it requires real existence of the subject/agent on the stage of the past. We cannot talk about a witness who never existed but without testimonies of real actors, experiences can’t be real. Spoken words liberate the silent experience. They liberate it from being forgotten, and make it communicable. That is to say, it makes it everyone’s. In Never there, Güneştekin puts a spotlight on subjects that were never there. Rather than claiming to speak in their names, he offers a reading of the incommunicability of the experiences of these missing and invisible subjects.

All the objects scattered all over the mass are the last traces of the past. Our memory becomes real with objects and space. It is often established between the collective and the personal. The object is mostly treated as one element of the subject-object dichotomy, which is defined through the subject. Unlike this perception Never there prefers to consider the object not as an equivalent of the subject or the conscious but instead, as a prerequisite condition for their continuity. It reminds us that these nonliving things that occupy our living spaces are not in a state of passive inaction but live a life of their own. Like human beings they too exist in place and time, and transform the place they inhabit. Objects add meaning to a place. In their absence, we would define our living spaces and ourselves incompletely. In this sense Never there is an inner crust that is confined by space and objects. As suggested by Pierre Nora space and objects turn into a site of memory where memory is embodied. Every object here is a material embodiment of a moment of the past.

The reality of this place is mass killings. Only those who managed to escape from this fate can tell about it. The speaking subject, in this case the artist himself, didn’t choose to be the subject. He was chosen by non-textual topics. Those who weren’t there cannot tell the whole story of what happened. They talk because others died in place of them. This is a non-existing subject problem. This is such a first singular person that each time anyone person came out to testify he or she replaced someone else not because he or she was the proxy of that person but because he or she was the one not killed. Those who don’t exist cannot be represented in a radical way. The paradox of being a witness feeds on this impossibility. All narratives about the past are representational. They are a discourse that substitutes for the event. That’s why Never there doesn’t claim to represent those who cannot speak. It shows the way of contributing to the creation of a collective memory by digging through time with a critical eye. The biggest driving force here is the resistance to forgetting.

Güneştekin’s short film Decay and his installation Never there which will be on display at Pilevneli Gallery, show a way to create a memory that will pass on the experiences of the past and to prevent the black hole created by the lack of such a memory from growing further to include or swallow the future as well as to avoid a possible forgetting that will occur as a result of limitation period.

The iconic works of the artist will be on display at Marlborough Gallery in a special collection consists of art works by Manolo Valdes, Fernando Botero, Santiago Calatrava and Juan Genoves.

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