18 Oct- 24 Nov. 2018
“The neon signs which hang over our cities and outshine the natural light of the night with their own are comets presaging the natural disaster of society, its frozen death. Yet they do not come from the sky. They are controlled from Earth. It depends upon human beings themselves whether they will extinguish these lights and awaken from a nightmare which only threatens to become actual as long as men believe in it.” ¹
As we can see in Benjamin’s effects on the works of Adorno, just as the aura of a work of art has been lost in the age of mechanical reproduction, humans have also lost their uniqueness on the road to becoming part of a mass society. In her work “Strike” (2010), German artist Hito Steyerl, protests television, a medium that Horkheimer and Adorno argue passes the whole world through its filter and is an important part of the culture industry. According to the Institute of Social Research in Frankfurt, television is controlled according to the mass profile that is desired by the corporations that run the world, it has created a mass society out of individuals it has standardized. The emotions and reactions that the masses feel and display have been molded in a way that allows for complete control over them. We can look at “Strike” as not only a response to information that has been controlled and manipulated; no longer reflecting reality, the silence surrounding people who disappear in this age of visibility, to the representations of violence, victims and minorities in media, to the loss of meaning in successive content which is presented and the control over the emotions and reactions of the masses, but also as a response to eventual societal blindness and indifference.
In the 2009 work “Recm”, Barış Eviz, an artist living in Batman, shows us a different form of protest. We are witness to the backstage of how sanctified oil is and its role in determining the future of a city through the reactions of the youth living there. A group of teenagers ranging from 14-18, protest the imperialist reality behind the media lies of how oil and its industry will bring development to Batman and how it will bring life to the educational structure, by throwing coins into an oil well situated on one of the busiest streets; making reference to the Stoning of the Devil using money; the number one symbol of Capitalism.
In the works of Adem Bulut, who lives and works in Diyarbakır, we often see criticism of the system that cannot be viewed separated from the society in which he lives. In his photo series “Keska Resulillah” Peygamber Yeşili (Islamic Green), we are faced with the concept of making visible by pointing as a target, something we run into frequently with media. By photographing the structures marked with X’s in the Sur district of Diyarbakır, and printing them and exhibiting them in postcard dimensions, he calls for us to think about the aspects of a city that is being hidden from us rather than the usual postcard intention of highlighting the beautiful.
“Objects in The Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear”, inspired by Adorno’s masterpiece Minima Moralia, carries the hope that it can transport us to a point where we can see the world in its true color by changing our point of view even in the face of despair, by not caving in to unconditional acceptance, and the hope of us regaining the aura of uniqueness that Benjamin attests we have lost.
¹ Adorno – Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment, 2010, Kabalcı, s. 389.