Crowds and Power

Köken Ergun

Salt Ulus

December 5, 2013 – March 16, 2014

Still from the video TANKLOVE (2008) by Köken Ergun Köken Ergun’un <i>TANKLOVE</i> (2008) videosundan bir kare
Still from the video TANKLOVE (2008) by Köken Ergun
Köken Ergun’s video works focus on rituals of distinct social groups and subcultures. His interests lie in the interactions and dynamics of social conclaves and how groups bond together. Rather than having a documentarist attitude, Ergun’s curiosity helps him offer an unexpected and lighthearted analysis of rituals within religion, societal conventions and protocols of traditionally prepared entertainment. Ergun’s personal investment in his subjects invites them into his practice and results in long radiating relationships.

The exhibition borrows its title from Elias Canetti’s book Masse und Macht [Crowds and Power]. Ergun questions the impact of authoritarian power on individuals and crowds with wit, to reveal awry mechanisms within the structures of our society.

Untitled (2004) is an early work about body politics in which the artist’s confident movements gradually break down as he battles with conflicting positions regarding the contemporary body under stress.

The pair of works I, Soldier (2005) and The Flag (2006) deal with militarism and nationalism. I, Soldier follows the celebrations of May 19, Youth and Sports Day and The Flag was shot on the April 23, National Sovereignty and Children’s Day celebrations in Turkey. These videos address the impact of systems of power over the masses through the construction of national identity and how the attitude of the original 1930s ceremonial aesthetics is still applied today.

TANKLOVE (2008), a video work of a performance that took place in a small town in Denmark, where military intervention is normally unencountered, was inspired by the imposition of tanks in Sincan, Turkey that led to the process of February 28, 1997. This video is one of Ergun’s first works conducted collaboratively with a local community. After the surprise arrival of a tank in their town, the community gather atop the tank with the artist to share the memory in a photograph.

Binibining Promised Land (2009-2010) focuses on the beauty pageants organized by Philippine care-givers of the elderly and sick in Tel Aviv, dealing with a social gathering, and the impact of authoritarian regulation, from a different perspective. The work presents more than a beauty pageant, by revealing work conditions, issues of immigration and the cultural codes that arise in those situations.

Crowds and Power is realized in collaboration with the 19th Festival on Wheels.