Künstlergespräch Viron Erol Vert
The Kunstverein in Hamburg is pleased to present the winners of the Villa Romana Prize to a wide audience in the exhibition series #UNFINISHEDTRACES. The Villa Romana Prize is Germany’s oldest art prize and has been awarded to four artists every year since 1905. Artists Jeewi Lee, Christophe Ndabananiye, Lerato Shadi, and Viron Erol Vert were the 2018 Villa Romana Prize winners selected by Nasan Tur (artist) and Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung (director of SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin).
With #UNFINISHEDTRACES, the artists themselves have provided the title for the series. It refers to shared qualities in their works, which each pursue the search for traces in different ways; memories, untold (hi)stories, the artist’s personal biography, and the attempt to experience what is absent are focal points in the content of each project. The title’s reference to what is left unfinished opens up a field of tension between the future and the past. Every exhibition is the realization of a possibility – ambiguity, permeability, and mobility play a large role here, both on the side of the institution as well as on the side of the artists. An experiment emerges that points beyond the specific projects. Supplemented by an online program, a multifaceted dialogue will develop over three months.
Viron Erol Vert - “I don't like foreigners, but you are different”
19.9. – 11.10.2020
The title of Viron Erol Vert's solo exhibition “I don't like foreigners, but you are different”, is formed around a sentence that the artist has confronted since childhood. This is a sentence which he has encountered in different cultural contexts and languages, from his past until today. The various and sometimes contradicting moments contained in such a sentence form the semantic framework in which Vert would like to artistically deal with various aspects and perspectives of the position of oneself and the position of the outsider. Vert grew up between northern Germany, Istanbul and Athens in a multicultural family environment, and has been living in Berlin since his studies. In addition to his artistic practice, he has worked in parallel for over 20 years in various sub-cultural contexts and from within the Berlin club scene. Vert’s use of this sentence is therefore closely related to his biography, which is particularly shaped by the state of being in-between. In this in-between, different cultures, languages, perspectives and also views of life converge and thus combine to form a hybrid identity. Based on a consistent equality and rhizomatic union of different cultures, languages and people, the perspective of being-in-the-middle proffers a fundamental question: Where does the foreign begin, and where does it end?
“I don't like foreigners, but with you it's something different” is shown as an audio-visual assemblage that brings the visitors of the exhibition together. Three artistic forms— expressionist painting, objects and sound—bring the audience into this unity. The central component of this large-scale installation is, figuratively, the triptych, which emerged from the religious art traditions of three-part devotional and altar paintings, which have been widespread in Christian art since the Middle Ages. In its three parts, the triptych refers to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, which are taken together to form a divine unity. Vert connects these aspects here with Freud's psychoanalytic model, which also only constitutes the self in a totality of three parts.
During their stay, viewers are invited to sit or stand on seven podiums or seats modeled on architectural objects, each of which forms a unity with painting and sound. A view of the self that is important in this context is from the seven cycles of Sufism, in this worldview, the term nafs stands for the person or the self, but also includes the concept of soul. Classical Sufism sees the development of the ego as an extinction of human qualities, which are replaced by divine qualities. In this exhibition the seven different levels of Sufism are symbolized by paintings of differing colors. These seven paintings collect and superimpose various thought and memory sketches, producing figuratively abstract impressions from their color and surface. It is an unimagined and unconscious painting that tries to focus on the moment of the spiritual and mental in-between which manifests in layers on the canvas.
In the historical context of the Hanseatic City of Hamburg, this project raises the critical question of how to reconcile one's own position with the position of the foreign. This spans the historical spectrum of the Hanseatic League, which was shaped by early steps towards globalization, the display of “exotic” objects in museums and the same objectification of living peoples (for instance, that which was practiced in the Völkerschauen of the Hagenbeck Zoo), in addition to our contemporary and openly articulated xenophobia which can be witnessed at the highest political levels around the world.
Die Betrachter*innen sind eingeladen, bei ihrem Aufenthalt auf sieben Architekturobjekten nachempfundenen Podesten oder Sitzgelegenheiten, die immer jeweils mit einer Malerei und einem Klang eine Einheit sind, zu verweilen. Eine in diesem Kontext wichtige und im siebener Rhythmus ausgestaltete Sicht auf das Selbst, die hier mit den sieben Sockelobjekten verbunden wird, findet sich im Sufismus, in dem der Begriff Nafs sowohl für die Person oder das Selbst steht, aber auch die Bedeutung von Seele hat. Der klassische Sufismus sieht in der Entwicklung des Egos die Auslöschung der menschlichen Qualitäten, die durch die göttlichen Qualitäten ersetzt werden. Der Sufismus kennt sieben verschiedene Stufen, die durch die unterschiedlich farbigen Malereien in der Ausstellung symbolisiert werden. In den sieben Malereien sammeln, überlagern und manifestieren sich verschiedene Gedanken- und Erinnerungsskizzen. Es handelt sich um eine nicht gedachte, unbewusste Malerei, die versucht, sich im Moment des geistigen und seelischen Dazwischens in Schichten auf der Leinwand zu manifestieren.
Im historischen Kontext der Hansestadt Hamburg stellt das Projekt die kritische Frage über den Umgang mit dem Eigenen und dem Fremden und spannt den Bogen von der von einer frühen Globalisierung geprägten Hanse, über die Zurschaustellung „exotischer“ Objekte im Museum und sogar Menschen wie sie u.a. in den Völkerschauen des Hagenbecker Zoos praktiziert wurden bis hin zur aktuell weltweit sogar offen auf höchster politischer Ebene artikulierten und wachsenden Xenophobie.