"MIND THE GAP” investigate the possibilities of contemporary art practices to shed light on and affect the political and socio-economic forces at work on local and global levels
Sunday, 18 September, 2011 - 13:00 - 14:30
Chair Person: 
Alexia Mellor
Kerry Doyle
Karin Hansson
Chantal Zakari
Arzu Özkal
Claudia Pederson
WRMC Collaborative

Chair: Alexia Mellor

MIND THE GAP playfully alludes to transportation, but references borders and gaps of all kinds: geographic, social, and economic. This panel discussion is aimed at investigating the various ways contemporary art is addressing issues of economic and cultural globalization, and urban migration within the artistic and socio-political traditions of Istanbul and Turkey. MIND THE GAP present papers and discussions from international artists and scholars in reaction to the concepts of capitalism, consumerism and cultural imperialism, and the ways that we negotiate individual and collective identity. MIND THE GAP draws from Nicholas Bourriaud’s notion of the altermodern, which offers a new vision of the modern in which ideas of identity are fluid rather than rooted in our origins. With this spirit, MIND THE GAP asks the following questions:
•    In the face of global economic and environmental crises, what options do we have for a new vision?
•    What does nationality mean in a homogenized world in which multinational chain corporations are on every street corner in every corner of the globe?
•    How have our definitions of place been altered by the technologies we use every day?

"MIND THE GAP” investigate the possibilities of contemporary art practices to shed light on and affect the political and socio-economic forces at work on local and global levels.

Paper Abstracts

Cultivating Conduits: Virtual Attempts to Make a Real Connection

by Kerry Doyle

El Paso, Texas/Juarez, Mexico is one of the largest bi-national urban environments in the world. The cities of El Paso and Juarez have become increasingly isolated from one another since January of 2008, when drug violence in Mexico began to climb to unprecedented levels.  The Rubin Center has been a site for the development of a series of cross-border projects that unite residents on both sides of the border using both technological and tactile experiences, including Tania Candiani's Battleground (2009), Ivan Abreu’s Cross Coordinates (2010), Arcangel Constantini’s contra <~> flujo (2010), and a year-long, in-process project with LA based artists Mario Ybarra and Karla Diaz of Slanguage,  that connects youth on both sides of the border using urban tactics and virtual communities (on exhibition beginning May 2012).

Performing Democracy: Fine Art as a Prototype for Participation

by Karin Hansson, Thomas Liljenberg and Johanna Gustafsson Fürst

This thematic art project in a suburb of Stockholm is a means to generate problem areas in focus for a research project on multimodal communication and democratic decision-making at Stockholm University. Artists' actions, installations and mediations create a direct confrontation with the place and its inhabitants, and explore the dynamic global & local relationships that constitute its context. The art project is a collaborative process where notions of democracy are examined in order to investigate, expose, enhance and / or remodel relations of the site.
More information about the art project: http://temporaryart.org/performingdemocracy

The State of Ata

by Chantal Zakari

The State of Ata is a visual book about the social themes that define contemporary Turkey and that specifically examines the imagery of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, its revolutionary leader after World War I. This is an artists' book in its conception and design that weaves together photographs, interviews, artists' interventions and archival imagery. It is a critical visual exploration on the meaning of Ataturk's imagery and how it is used in Turkish society today.

During a twelve year period between 1997 and 2009, Mike Mandel and Chantal Zakari, two artists, one Turkish, one American, have become engaged in this project to better understand this conflict.

In the tradition of Robert Frank’s exposition of The Americans,The State of Ata chronicles our experiences photographing the people in Turkey as we found them: students, families, couples, friends, on the street, in the office, or in the countryside. We photographed people, secular and Western, or religious and conservative in appearance. We made thousands of photographs, conducted interviews and collected found material from archives, gathering popular historical illustrations and other artifacts. Many graphic representations of Atatürk that were originally based on photographs, were later interpreted by many different artists along the way, each one more removed from the original. This has created a body of public imagery that is often far removed from the likeness of Atatürk, but has become an image shorthand, an iconography similar to the imagery of other cult figures.

The book is conceived as a collection of books within books; a photo book, comic book, school book, album of military portraits, a diary... Like other artists’ books made by Bill Burke, I Want to Take Picture, Clifton Meador, The Long Slow March, Jim Goldberg, Raised by Wolves, Susan Meiselas' books, The State of Ata is an art object informed by the design, the layout, sequence of images, and the relationship between image and text.

Declaration of Sentiments*/Gün

by Arzu Ozkal and Claudia Pederson

Declaration of Sentiments/Gün is a collaboration between Arzu Ozkal and Claudia Costa Pederson.  This project draws on the Turkish tradition of women’s social gatherings called “gün” (meaning “day” in Turkish). A gün is a ladies’ gathering for the purposes of conversation, activities and festivities accompanied by the serving of Turkish food. These meetings are informal hubs of social networks, where women come together to share concerns and skills, often generating a micro-economy that involves the collection of gold or money among the members.

During ISEA2011 we are bringing together a number of Turkey-based women to start the basis of a cultural-exchange initiative.  Guests are selected based on their contributions to contemporary culture in Turkey in a number of fields ranging from journalism, visual arts, music, literature, new media, crafts, and design. This meeting will be documented in a limited edition book to be distributed during the festival.  This book will also provide the basis for an online platform bringing Turkish women based in the United States and Europe to the conversation.  With this event we hope to springboard the traditions of Turkish women's cultural production as a basis for extending the spirit of the Gün among networked women.

Playing in Place Nowhere: Creating an Open Source Country

by WRMC Collaborative (Andrew Y Ames, Alexia Mellor)

Traditional and new media technologies allow for a reframing of cultural constructs through play. Play and games provide insight and expose culture. Though the two are not necessarily synonymous, both play and games function in relation to an understood context and set of rules. In this paper we will investigate the concept of a digital country through an analysis of our current project, Lokönenie, as well as consider how artists and designers historically have enlisted strategies of play and games to engage in a critical examination of borders, mapping and technologies of representation.

Through practice-based research involving the combination of performance art and game design, we follow in the genealogy of DADA, Fluxus, Surrealists, and the Situationists. We create playful experiences that address the intersection of art, site and digital technologies through performative interventions and webspace. Our current project, Loköneine, questions the meaning of nationality, nationhood and identity. Lokönenie is a portable and conceptually open source country whose only fixed location is an IP address.The name means “place nowhere,” and highlights the transitory, dislocated nature of our country as well as our desire to promote a mobile, digital country that has no geographical, cultural or language barriers. The work is activated in the real world and lives in the digital where disparate locations can become connected in web space.

In addition to our own project, we will discuss the work of the Center for Land Use Interpretation, the Institute for Applied Autonomy, and Rafael Fajardo, as examples of artists and artist groups employing strategies of critical play and the revisioning of place.

Throughout this paper we will argue that performativity is essential to understanding and accessibility. As Allan Kaprow said, “As a four-letter word in a society given to games, play does what all dirty words do: it strips bare the myth of culture by its artists.”

Bios of the Participants

Kerry Doyle

Kerry Doyle is the Associate Curator and Assistant Director of the Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts where she is in charge of education and community outreach and participates in curatorial projects with a focus on contemporary Latin American art and cross-border dialogue. She spent fifteen years in social service and community education in Chicago, El Paso, and Juarez and specializes in activities that engage diverse sectors of the border community.   Recent curatorial projects engaging with border dynamics include Battleground: Tania Candiani and Regina José Galindo (2009), Contra Flujo: Independence and Revolution with Karla Jasso, Laboratorio Arte Alameda (2010), Fernando Llanos, Revolutionary Imaginary: The Death of Video Man (2010). She holds a B.A. in Political Science from De Paul University in Chicago, and a  B.A. in Drawing and Printmaking/M.A. in Latin American and Border Studies from the University of Texas at El Paso.

Karin Hansson

Karin Hansson is an artist & curator. She works as a senior lecturer in Media Art and is also a PhD student at The Royal Institute of Arts in Stockholm and The Computer & System Science Department at Stockholm University (http://people.dsv.su.se/~khansson/).

Within the framework of the arts organisation Association for Temporary Art [a: t] (Åsa Andersson Broms and Nils Claesson et al), Hansson previously carried out a series of thematic art projects and exhibitions related to information society and changing conditions for democracy: Best before - on the Information Society, Tensta Konsthall (1999)The Art of Organizing, Gallery Enkehuset (2000), Money - a commentary on the new economy (2001) and Public Opinion (2002) at House of Culture in Stockholm.This paper is written together with artists Johanna Gustafsson Fürst (http://gustafssonfurst.se/) & Thomas Liljenberg (http://www.thomasliljenberg.se/), and researchers at the The Department of Computer & Systems Sciences at Stockholm University (http://dsv.su.se/en/); Love Ekenberg, Mats Danielsson & Aron Larsson.

Chantal Zakari

Chantal Zakari is a Turkish-Levantine, a member of the Christian minority. Her education since childhood was filled with propagandistic images of Atatürk designed to personify a sense of national identity. As an artist, now living in the U.S., she has a different perspective. Zakari was trained as a designer and an artist. She published The Turk & The Jew, in 1998 with Mandel, a book based on the web-narrative by the same title, which was launched in 1996. In 2005, using a pseudonym, she self-published webAffairs, a documentary of a web community. She has had solo shows of her work in the U.S. and in Turkey. She has given book readings in the form of performances in the U.K., Netherlands, Canada and the U.S.
Zakari is a faculty member in the Text and Image Arts Area at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Claudia Costa Pederson works on histories about the relationship of media with artistic and social energies. She produced radio and video works in collaboration with activists and women artists in the Netherlands and Germany and is currently concluding a doctorate at Cornell University on the work of artists using digital games for social critique.

Arzu Ozkal

Arzu Ozkal questions dogmas, traditions, laws, and patriarchal value systems through videos, public interventions and performances. She is an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at San Diego State University.

The WRMC Collaborative

The WRMC Collaborative (Andrew Y. Ames and Alexia Mellor) is a nutrient-rich endeavor delivering high-quality, sweet and savory experiences that infuse the ingredients of humor and play into simple recipes. Through a combination of performance art and game design, WRMC aims to create unexpected alternative ways of experiencing the everyday that invite critical reflection on notions of consumerism, technology and globalization. The artists have been featured in the Providence Journal, the Boston Globe, the Boston Phoenix and ArtDaily as up and coming artists to watch, and have exhibited their work nationally and internationally. Recent exhibitions include 8 Bits Per Pixel and 55 Soya at MEME Gallery, Cambridge, MA; Pixilerations at Sol Kofler Gallery in Providence.