Workshop: "For what it's worth..."

Salt Galata

November 3, 2011 16.00 – 18.00

Artist: Michael Rakowitz
SALT Galata

On November 3, in the context of his intervention for SALT Galata’s opening exhibition, Scramble for the Past: A Story of Archaeology in the Ottoman Empire, 1753-1914, artist Michael Rakowitz will explore how archaeological practice can function within the everyday, in reference to the historical narrative of the exhibition. In an open workshop, Rakowitz invites people from all neighborhoods, backgrounds and generations in İstanbul to select something from their homes, personal collections, or daily lives that they feel could hold archaeological importance. This object could be something that expresses living conditions in İstanbul today; the social communities that live here or lived here in the recent (or not so recent) past; and the current tastes, attitudes and economic circumstances of everyday life.

If participants’ objects are relevant to the project’s conceptual approach, Rakowitz will request to exhibit them in the context of his installation for Scramble for the Past . By introducing daily items and personal ephemera into dialogue with objects and books borrowed from the İstanbul Archaeological Museum and into a contemporary cultural institutional exhibition setting, the value of these borrowed items and their worth will be brought into question, as will the legacy of institutional authority in defining the status of culture and what should and should not be collected and saved. Participants may choose either to lend objects for the duration of the exhibition through a loan agreement, or to donate them as part of a growing permanent collection at SALT documenting archaeological history and the ways İstanbulites think about memory and the past. All individuals contributing to the project will receive a replica of a 1 Lira Ottoman banknote dating from 1875 in exchange for their generous participation.

Workshop participants will also have the opportunity to preview the renovated Ottoman Bank building—the new home of SALT Galata—before it opens to the public on November 22. Designed by French Levantine architect Alexandre Vallaury, the building first opened in 1892 and is a landmark unique to İstanbul with surprisingly distinct architectural styles—neoclassical and oriental—applied on opposite façades. Redesign of the building has been undertaken by Mimarlar Tasarım, the office of Aga Khan Award for Architecture winner Han Tümertekin. The architectural work in progress at SALT Galata aims to clear the building of previous additions to reveal its true character, reorganizing the space for a challenging, multi-layered program.

Michael Rakowitz (b. 1973, New York) is an artist based in Chicago and New York City. In 1998, he initiated paraSITE, an ongoing project in which the artist custom builds inflatable shelters for homeless people that attach to the exterior outtake vents of a building’s heating, ventilation or air conditioning system. His work has appeared in venues worldwide including P.S.1, MoMA, MASS MoCA, Castello di Rivoli, the 16th Biennale of Sydney, the 10th İstanbul Biennial, Sharjah Biennial 8, Tirana Biennale, National Design Triennial at Cooper-Hewitt, and Transmediale 05. He has had solo exhibitions at Lombard-Freid Projects in New York, Alberto Peola Arte Contemporanea in Torino, and Stadtturmgalerie/Kunstraum Innsbruck. His public project Return was presented by Creative Time in New York in 2006. He is the recipient of a 2008 Creative Capital Grant, a Sharjah Biennial Jury Award, a 2006 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship Grant in Architecture and Environmental Structures, the 2003 Dena Foundation Award and the 2002 DESIGN 21 Grand Prix from UNESCO. His solo exhibition The worst condition is to pass under a sword which is not one’s own was on view at Tate Modern in London in 2010. His recent project The Breakup was presented by Al Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art in Jerusalem in October 2010. Rakowitz is an associate professor in art theory and practice at Northwestern University.
A replica of a 1 Lira Ottoman banknote dating from 1875 1875 tarihli 1 Lira'lık Osmanlı banknotunun bir replikası
A replica of a 1 Lira Ottoman banknote dating from 1875