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Inside the Artists Studio | Serkan zkaya


July 1st, 2011 by Georgia Kotretsos

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Serkan zkaya at this studio in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo: Baris Ozcetin.

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Serkan zkaya is a contemporary conceptual artist based in Istanbul, Turkey, and New York City. His work deals with topics of appropriation and reproduction and it typically operates outside of traditional art spaces. He holds an M.F.A. from Bard College, New York, and a Ph.D in German Language and Literature from Istanbul University, where he also earned his B.A. and M.A. zkaya has been an artist-in-residence at the cole Rgionale des Beaux Arts de Nantes (20002001), Rooseum in Malmo with the IASPIS grant (2002), Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center in Istanbul (20032004), and at Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (2006). He has also been a fellow of the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. His work is represented by Slag Gallery, New York and Galeri Nev, Istanbul.

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Serkan zkaya, "Today Could Be The Day Of Historical Importance," 2010. (The artist collaborated with newspapers across the globe to hand-draw the text and images of pages of their papers after they were laid out by the newspapers editors. The drawings were printed in place of the typeset pages, resulting in accessible, affordable, and unexpected works of art that were distributed to millions of people. The book includes discussions, interviews, and articles on the project, in addition to hundreds of color reproductions of all of zkayas newspaper pages and photographs documenting his working process).

> 5 Questions for Contemporary Practice (21) > Alchemy of Inspiration (5) > Art 2.1: Creating on the Social Web (16) > Bedfellows: Art and Visual Culture (15) > BOMB in the Building (19) > Bound: The Printed Object in

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Here is artist, writer, and friend, Serkan zkaya.

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Inside the Artists Studio | Serkan zkaya | Art21 Blog


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Serkan zkaya, "Sudden Gust of Wind, Paper and threat," Bilsar, Istanbul, Turkey, 2009. Dimensions variable. Photo: Baris Ozcetin.

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Georgia Kotretsos: Ive often wondered about the internal process of artmaking, hoping to comprehend the force behind it. Is it a need to make, to share and communicate, and so on and so forth? For sure, there isnt a fixed answer and for that reason I would like to ask you why, for what reason, and for whom do you make art?

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Serkan zkaya, "Spaghetti Chair," 2009. Spaghetti sticks and glue. Photo: Baris Ozcetin.

Serkan zkaya: You know what, so have I! Most of the time, the case is that we have dinner and drinks with my friends and the conversation develops and everybody becomes tipsy and this or that idea comes up and I wont even know if its me or somebody else who brought it up, but the next day nobody else has a recollection of it but me. As a matter of fact, I do think that only the person youre talking to can utter your very ideas. I sometimes think that ideas are like butterflies, as Feyerabend calls them. They circle around in the air and anyone with a seeing eye can see them and its just a matter of choice to decide to take the responsibility to execute and go for them. And then the artist is mostly an exhibitionist who wants to share or actually show them to others. As for who those others are, I dont have a clue. Id say, Me, myself, and a couple of friends, and/or the whole world. I dont know, really. Last year when we were talking strategy with my music band, To Mexico with Love, the lead singer, Kapitan Sabor, said, Our target group is: err Everybody!

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What influences art? (47) What is the value of art? (83) What's so shocking about contemporary art? (40) > Video: (528) Classroom (15) Conversation (8) Excerpt (35) Exclusive (186) New York Close Up (62) Reblog (198) Spoof (6) Uncut (4) Access '12 (1) GK: Recently I shared with you a link by Milton Glaser on the fear of failure, where a number of great points were raised for our discussion. Ill begin with the idea of the art genius or the creative genius, which, in recent years has been pushed into the background of this pretty art picture weve painted for ourselves and I fear it may have been replaced by the idea of the art star. How would you define the two models? Art21 Access '09 (25) Art21 Artists: (1390) Ai Weiwei (19) Alejandro Almanza Pereda (1) Alfredo Jaar (59) Allan McCollum (40) Allora & Calzadilla (68) An-My L (30) Andrea Zittel (49) Ann Hamilton (47) Arturo Herrera (39) assume vivid astro focus (5) Barbara Kruger (65) Barry McGee (75) Beryl Korot (10) Bruce Nauman (82) Cai Guo-Qiang (68) Cao Fei (47) Carrie Mae Weems (79) Catherine Opie (7) Catherine Sullivan (26) Charles Atlas (28) Cindy Sherman (61) S: Yeah, that guy looks like a lot of fun. You know, Ive written two books on this topic: Genius and Creativity in the Arts and Distance in the Arts. The first one was more about Schoenberg and his Moses, from his opera Moses and Aron, as his alter ego; i.e. Moses can hear God but cant address people, so he needs Aron to voice him and God. Schoenberg as the artist can see/hear ideas and he needs to translate them to e.g. music. And the second book argued that the work is a collaboration between the reader, the author, and the piece itself sort of like Marcel Mausss famous example of the gift economy. Collier Schorr (35) David Altmejd (4) David Brooks (3) Diana Al-Hadid (2) Do-Ho Suh (43) Doris Salcedo (30) El Anatsui (17) Eleanor Antin (40) Elizabeth Murray (17) Ellen Gallagher (26) Erin Shirreff (1) Florian Maier-Aichen (19) Fred Wilson (35) Gabriel Orozco (55) Glenn Ligon (15) Hiroshi Sugimoto (54) Hubbard & Birchler (8) Iigo Manglano-Ovalle (25) Ida Applebroog (27) James Turrell (48) Janine Antoni (43) Jeff Koons (89) Jenny Holzer (99) Jessica Stockholder (37) John Baldessari (79) John Feodorov (4)
Serkan zkaya, "Genius and Creativity in the Arts," "(Sanatta Deha ve Yaratclk Schnberg, Adorno, Thomas Mann)," 2000.

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Anyway to make a long story short, I think genius is the idea itself and the artist is a mere worker in service of it. As for the art star and the system, I really couldnt care less. I mean, I dont mind the art star per se. I wouldnt even mind succumbing to some of its advantages, like sex, drugs and rock n roll, but I dont think its relevant or important. GK: Continuing with the Fear of Failure, its a strange concept. As artists, were not encouraged to go ahead and make bold mistakes, cleanse our systems, FAIL (in capitals), and then sit across from this failure and learn from it. The symptoms of failure for the artist himself and the viewer of his so-called failed work are two entirely different stories. How do we experience and how do we perceive failure? And on the other hand, I think the same thought could be easily applied to success. How does an artist know hes ready to handle and take on the heavy load of being successful? Is there such thing as the Fear of Success, and what kind of symptoms could it possibly have? S: I wish I knew the answer to the success part of your question, but I dont really. I mean what could it be? Money? Reputation? There is no satisfaction that can be matched by the joy of coming up with an idea and/or standing in front of a finished work. Then again, as said, I dont think ideas can be owned; thus the finished work is an illusion. What else is there but nun est bibendum, nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus (Now is the time to drink, now the time to dance footloose upon the earth)!

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Serkan zkaya, "David (inspired by Michelangelo)," 9th International Istanbul Biennial, 2005. Styrofoam, metal, paint, 9 meters tall. Video still by Danila Cahen.

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Although Im an expert on the other part, a.k.a the failure. Remember when David (inspired by Michelangelo) fell down during its installation at the 9th International Istanbul Biennial years ago? Here is some praise on it: The spectacularly worst was Serkan zkayas thirty-foot-tall golden replica of Michelangelos David, which fell over upon installation and broke into pieces. (T.J.Demos, Artforum) a literal bump in the road (Power Ekroth, Artforum) a grandiose failure (Michael Greissel, ERBES) zkayas David sacrificed itself and collapsed, upon understanding its distant meaninglessness and that it would never make any sense within the city. (Umit Gezgin, Art&Life) As if to undo the Crusaders purloining, zkaya brought a 29-foot-tall golden Styrofoam replica of Michelangelos David to Istanbulonly to witness the sculpture collapse during installation. (Arden Reed, Los Angeles Times) I sometimes think Im over the fear of failure but it can be addictive, can it not? Spill the eggs

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Serkan zkaya, "The Baker's Apprentice," 2006. Fiber, eggs, acrylic paint.

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GK: The other day, I was on a panel and the terms Greek Contemporary Art or Artists were thrown generously around, as if we all understood the same thing every time these three words were spoken. At some point, I dosed off and I pictured a small convenience store where Greek Contemporary Artists all stood around waiting to be picked up. Do you also use the same umbrella term in Turkey Turkish Contemporary Artists? Who falls under this category, or better, whos eligible? What are your thoughts on identity labeling when it comes to our peculiar mobile art race? S: Yeah. Thats tricky, really. Or maybe it isnt. I mean, one of the reasons I consider myself an artist is that I ran away from family, that is to say, from the institution that closes you up and makes you a part of something and makes you follow or contribute to its history as it were. Nationality smells the same to me, even worse. To be honest with you, I dont think nationality, as a concept, is as big as it was before. Again, I dont want to have much to do with it, but we all know that it makes things easy when it comes to [defining] identity. Although identity doesnt mean much, its the work youre doing. I know this isnt really the answer youre looking for, but but but

Serkan zkaya, "Atlas," IMOCC, New York, 2011

GK: Tell me a few things about IMOCC and the project youre currently working on. Also, there is a film in the making about David what is that all about? S: [Quoting]: Nearly one year ago, New York artist Gorzo teamed up with galerist Irina Protopopescu to realize his project of a new museum; the chosen venue was to be what else but the artists overcoat to carry the exhibitions on New York streets. As a result of this collaboration, the International Museum of Contemporary Culture (hereafter IMOCC) was born. When Gorzo approached artist Serkan zkaya to have him host the first show at IMOCC, he did not know that Serkan zkaya was planning to put a weight on his shoulders. After a few days of brainstorming, zkaya came up with the idea of making the museum wander around the streets of New York with his new piece: a giant rock. zkayas work is appropriately titled Atlas, and the artist declares that his primary inspiration was Schuberts song of the same title, on a poem by Heine.

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IMOCC director Protopopescu points out: There will be a day that we are going to say that we all came from Gorzos overcoat, jokingly referring to the famous Dostoyevsky quote about Gogol (We all come from Gogols Overcoat). As for IMOCC and Gorzo, only time and unpredictable New York weather will reveal if his Wanderlust will transform him from proud Atlas to a miserable Sisyphus. IMOCC is now proud to present its first show, Atlas, and invites New Yorkers and art lovers everywhere to observe and join this veritable traveling exhibition. Oh right, the movie. Yes, with director Gabriel Wrye, we are working on a film on David and making a documentary. I mean, a movie on the making of a documentary about an art piece on art. I believe in the end it will be an epic of the three people (myself, Gabriel, and Heather) fucking up personal relationships while trying to figure out art and ideas. I dont want to reveal the whole plan because its not finished yet; we dont want to jinx it this time, do we?

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Serkan zkaya, "Bring Me the Head of..." at Bund, Shanghai, 2007. Rice pudding served with jus. Photo: Michelle Garnaut.

GK: Where do you go for art and where do you go for music? S: For music I go to my bedroom, where I recently put all my CDs. [I] pick one and come back to the living room, the studio, dining room, and kitchen, that is. I also go to concerts and the opera but my taste happens to be a little odd, Im afraid. New York is almost the only place where I can find shows to my liking. Such as the wonderful Wozzeck I saw the other week at the Met, Yvonne Rainers new work at the Baryshnikov Center, a Meredith Monk performance at Poisson Rouge, a great performance by Shahzad Ismaily at the Stone, just to name a few. For art, hmm. Galleries? Museums? Newspaper? I dont know really. I like things that come to me actually. I really want to see a nice web project. Im sick of graffiti.

Serkan zkaya, "Chair Elevated by Three Balloons," 2010, at the artist's previous studio in Istanbul. Chair, fiberglass, rope. Photo: Baris Ozcetin.

And, thats a wrap!


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Posted in: > Inside the Artist's Studio, Food, Installation, Interviews, Reblog, Sculpture, Turkey Similar posts: Artist Interviews: Serkan Ozkaya and Pepe Mar , Double Or Nothing: An Interview with Serkan Ozkaya , It Takes Two. or Two Hundred , Time for Turkey: Allora & Calzadilla at Istanbul Biennial , Elegy for Robert Rauschenberg Comments (2)

2 Responses to Inside the Artists Studio | Serkan zkaya Andy Morris on July 1, 2011 8:59 pm Identity doesnt mean much its the work youre doing Ill memorize that one, and pull

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Inside the Artists Studio | Serkan zkaya | Art21 Blog


it out for special occasions. Reply

1/13/13 7:00 PM

Nina Winters on July 28, 2011 1:36 pm Fascinating article. I find the Bakers Apprentice very interesting. As a sculptor myself, I find your blog engaging and enlightening. Thank you! Reply

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