Within the framework of the celebrations of 400 years of diplomatic relations between the Netherlands and Turkey, Istanbul Modern is hosting the exhibition La La La Human Steps: A Selection from the Collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. Held between February 16 – May 6 in Istanbul Modern’s Temporary Exhibition Hall, the show consists of a special selection gathered for İstanbul Modern by Sjarel Ex, Director of Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum, fromthe museum’s collection of over 140 thousand works. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen was founded in 1849 and is one of the Netherlands’ most renowned museums with a worldwide reputation.
Bringing together old masters and prominent contemporary artists, the exhibition includes 53 works consisting of paintings, prints, photographs, videos and installations by 28 artists from different countries. The partnership between İstanbul Modern, and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen will continue with the exhibition İstanbul Modern – Rotterdam to open in Rotterdam on March 10.
Made possible with the partnership of MuseumBoijmans Van Beuningen and the contributions of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the exhibition’s supporting sponsor is Fibabanka, visual and audio systems sponsor is LG Electronics.
An exhibition focusing on human relations
Curated by Sjarel Ex, the exhibition features masters of contemporary art such as Bruce Nauman, Vito Acconci, and Cindy Sherman, together with some rare, 16th century paintings and prints from the museum’s collection. The exhibition also has works by artists known for their projects acclaimed worldwide, such as Yang Fudong from China; world renowned videoartistAernout Mik;fashion photographer Inez Van Lamsweerde from the Netherlands; video and photography artist from the Republic of South Africa, Zwelethu Mthethwa; and rising star of France, Cyprien Gaillard.
La La La Human Stepsis a show that focuses on human relations in today’s world. It is possible to translate, at historical, personal, and public levels, many themes pertaining to humanity, human relations, and our struggle to cope with life as human beings. Hence the show takes “us” as its starting point. While on the one hand the exhibition explores the individual’s desire to find answers to personal issues, on the other it questions the ways in which individuals confront with one another in society.
The exhibition borrowsits title from the Canadian dance companyLa La La Human Steps. The company’s performance Amelia, also shown in different spots of the exhibition, is about human encounters. This performance, which can be seen as a metaphor for an optimistic and courageous approach, is included in the show as a leitmotif.
The exhibition raisesquestionsthat are common to every human being and attempts to suggest answers. Participating artists are: Vito Acconci, Bas Jan Ader, Yael Bartana, Sebald Beham, Erhard Schön, Niklas Stoer, John Bock, David Claerbout, Pieter Coecke van Aelst, Peter Feiler,Yang Fudong Cyprien Gaillard, Šejla Kamerić, Paul Kooiker, Inez van Lamsweerde, Erik van Lieshout, Aernout Mik, Melvin Moti, Zwelethu Mthethwa, Bruce Nauman, Joachim Patinir, Anri Sala, Cindy Sherman, Marijke van Warmerdam, Andro Wekua, Guido van der Werve, Sylvie Zijlmans, Melvin Moti, Zwelethu Mthethwa, Bruce Nauman, Joachim Patinir, Anri Sala, Cindy Sherman, Salla Tykkä, Marijke van Warmerdam, Andro Wekua, Guido van der Werve, Sylvie Zijlmans.
The performance of La La Human Steps Amelia
At the press conference, exhibition curatorand Director of MuseumBoijmans Van Beuningen Sjarel Ex expressed that through this exhibition, which brings together the works of old masters and contemporary artists from the 163-year-old collection that boasts over 140 thousand works, he “wanted to display the art of today” because it is their common focus with İstanbul Modern “and old master paintings because Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has always endeavored to see art as a continuum that cuts across distinctions of age or discipline.” Sjarel Ex added: “It occurred to me that human relations—close encounters between human beings—pervade every century and every discipline in our collections. And what could be a more fitting theme for a celebration of 400 years of relations between the people of Turkey and the Netherlands?”
Sjarel Ex stressed that in this show, there are countless interrelationships between themes, artists and the positions they adopt and that the way the works are displayed is an important and rich source in itself: “La La La Human Steps is an exhibition about human desires, human relations, human failures, human despairs, human betrayals, human weaknesses and confrontations in life. These themes are as old as we are and as old as art. They are as old as our attempts to find a way to cope with the world around us and they can be translated at a historical, a personal and a public level. To emphasize this, on a more personal note, I have included in the exhibition a performance by the Canadian dance company La La La Human Steps. I especially admire Amelia, — a breathtakingly beautiful series of fourteen choreographies by Edouard Lock. The performance is a metaphor for an optimistic and courageous approach, a humanistic guide to perceive the exhibition as a monument to human encounters and to the ways of living our lives together. As moral and ethical as it may sound, we should reckon Amelia as optimistic reality and a guiding principle for a happy life.”
Chair of the Board of İstanbul Modern Oya Eczacıbaşı stated that they were delighted to team up with Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum within the framework of the celebrations of 400 years of diplomatic relations between the Netherlands and Turkey. Eczacıbaşı added: “Highlighting the fact that human culture can only exist in the presence of “the other”, the exhibition showcases some of the leading names in art today, many of whom are showing their work in Turkey for the first time.”
Eczacıbaşı also mentioned that as part of their collaboration with Museum Boijmans van Beuningen they would be holding an exhibition entitled İstanbul Modern – Rotterdam in Rotterdam between March 10 – June 10, 2012 featuring major works by contemporary artists in Turkey: “This event represents a continuation of the traveling exhibitions held by İstanbul Modern in major cities around the world since 2009. It will comprise a small but representative selection of artworks drawn from the Museum’s permanent collection illustrating the development of art in Turkey from the 70s to the present.”
The Consul General of the Netherlands Onno Kervesnoted that as we celebrate 400 years of diplomatic relations between the Netherlands and Turkey, the exhibitionLa La La Human Steps: A Selection from the Collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is one of the major cultural events to take place during this special year.Kerves added: “While celebrating a historic event dating back 400 years, it is important to look forward, to use this solid basis of a longstanding relationship as a springboard for our joint future. Modern art plays an important role in asking questions about our society and helps shaping our vision for the future. İstanbul Modern is a unique platform in Turkey for manifesting modern and contemporary art and I am particularly pleased that for this exhibition they team up with Museum Boimans Van Beuningen from Rotterdam, which for a long time already has had the same role in my native country.” Kerves further expressed that he believed this exhibition would not only develop cultural dialogue and collaboration but also the relations between the Netherlands and Turkey as well.
Historical, Personal and Public Encounters
The exhibition follows three main strands, which deal with the concepts of ‘me’ and ‘us’: Encounters in History, Personal Encounters, and Public Encounters. Works in Encounters in History consist of paintings, prints, and drawings by Old Masters and determine the historical basis of the exhibition. Its emphasis is the concept of “wayfarer and artist” of the 16th century and each of the works can be considered a historical record. They all harbor historical references for today’s world and reflect on themes such as curiosity, anxiety, fear, violence, sin, and failure.
In Personal Encounters artists from around the world pose questions about the human condition or humanity’s fate. Their works relate to the subconscious and human emotions such as fear, solitude, greed, wrath, and lust, and to the individual’s desire to find answers to personal issues. The works in this section emphasize how our feelings, whether positive or negative, are an indispensable part of all of us as human beings.
The strandPublic Encounters looks at the ways in which individuals encounter one another in public realm. The works in this strand display, from different viewpoints, how people encounter, confront and conflict with one another in society.
İstanbul Modern- Rotterdam
The second leg of the partnership between the two museumswill be the exhibitionİstanbul Modern – Rotterdam to be held in Rotterdam. Istanbul’s sister city, Rotterdam has the largest port in Europe and is therefore a major meeting point. Held at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen between March 10 – June 10, the exhibitionİstanbul Modern – Rotterdam aims to bring major works by contemporary artists in Turkey to the European audience.
While describing Istanbul as a new continent at the center of contemporary art, the show points to the dynamics of transformation and change, which have taken place in contemporary art in Turkey from the 1970s to the present day. Curated by Levent Çalıkoğlu the exhibition will feature works by Ramazan Bayrakoğlu, Taner Ceylan, Nezaket Ekici, Ayşe Erkmen, İnci Eviner, Nilbar Güreş, Balkan Naci İslimyeli, :mentalKLİNİK, İrfan Önürmen, Sarkis, Hale Tenger, Canan Tolon, Fatma Tülin, and Nil Yalter.