Commons Tense

“Commons Tense: New Media Arts from Turkey”


The Exhibiton “Commons Tense: New Media Arts from Turkey”, curated by Ekmel ertan and Fatih Aydoğdu, realized in 15–30 September 2012 in Electriciteitsfabriek, Den Haag (NL), produced by amberPlatform in cooperation with TodaysArt Festival, in frame of the celebration program TRNL400 – 400 Years of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Nederlands, with the support of Ministery of Foreign Affairs of Turkey. Artists: Bager AKBAY, Özlem ALKIŞ, Sedef AYDOĞAN & Özgün KILIÇ, Fatih AYDOĞDU, Mehmet ERKÖK, Ekmel ERTAN, Osman KOÇ, Nagehan KURALI & Selin ÖZÇELİK, Ebru KURBAK, Ali MİHARBİ, Ahmet Sertaç ÖZTÜRK, Onur SÖNMEZ & Jaak KAEVATS, Candaş ŞİŞMAN


“Commons Tense” exhibits the works of new media artists from Turkey. Being a sub-theme of amberPlatform’s 2012 theme entitled “Paratactic Commons”. Commons Tense points out that it is now time to talk within a new category that embeds the Commons in.


The decade that followed 9/11 witnessed a radical regression of communal energies, forcing us to live strictly in individual spheres; the fear and control society in the guise of a war on terror, the tendency of nation-states to impose their ideological agendas onto everyone and everything under their control and the conflicts and collaborations of a global consumerist economy that urges the rapid privatization of public goods have all taken a toll on the common values of human societies around the Globe. The commons that we need to regain entail a broad spectrum. They range from ecological unbalances, which result from the privatization of natural resources, to the ‘de facto’ privatization of judicial systems, which has led to the degradation of a justice that is common to all.


Meanwhile, the ever-popularizing digital media, beginning with the Internet itself as a common resource, has been a major source of inspiration in revitalizing the idea of the commons. More specifically, the capacities offered by new media have helped to re-understand that information is a “common” as well as the right to access information.


Can digital commons be an alternative platform to launch a political thought whose main aim is sharing, transparency, and freedom to access information? What can we learn from free software’s, copyleft movements, peer-2-peer systems, the logic of open source, and creative commons? Could the digital-commons help for the creation of another form of economy and ecology? Could humans share their common resources rather than exploit them? What kind of paratactic artistic strategies could digital commons consist of?


Realized in collaboration with TodaysArt Festival in Den Haag, the artworks presented at the exhibition will offer various interpretations of the theme. The co-events, which consist of two workshops, artist’s presentations, and a seminar, will be held parallel to the exhibition. One of the workshops focuses on art in public spaces and is a collaborative workshop among Turkish and Dutch artists. The second workshop targets younger public with the aim to practice new media in a hands-on manner.


Considering the frame of the exhibition that is entitled “400 years of Diplomatic Relations Between Turkey and The Netherlands”, it is a typical expectation that the exhibition will be set in a national or geographical context. Which artists are invited, what is the coverage of the exhibition and are the artists truly representing the context. We ignored all those questions. This exhibition does not represent any national or geographical values, although it naturally may have the traces of them. All the artists and curators talk on behalf of themselves. What is important for us is to raise a collaborative voice that emphasizes the importance of the commons today, against anything that classifies and separates.


The creation process of the artworks in this exhibition was based on collaboration, comparing the usual way that curatorial exhibitions follow. Curators invited the artists to work together for an exhibition entitled “Commons Tense” under the theme “Paratactic Commons”, which is the theme for amberFestival 2012. Artists and curators came together every two weeks to discuss the possible expansions of the theme. These meetings formed a fruitful and creative as well collaborative working frame in line with the title “Commons Tense”.


These meetings took place in amberPlatform with the participation of artists who lives in İstanbul in person and others who live abroad through online connection. Artists discussed about their works made comments to each others’ and proposed solution in some cases. After a while meetings were stopped, artists started production in their atelier.This exhibition consists of new works of selected artists who are in or around amberPlatform community. We tried to create diversity with the selection of the artists. The age group is differing from 20s to late 40s, which means almost three generation of artists are presenting in this exhibition but on the other hand they all belong to so called new media generation. Some are internationally established researchers and artists in the field and some are in the beginning of their career. We also wanted to make less known or younger artist visible beside the ones already in the international art circuits. We believe this creates a good sampling for the visitor as well.


The works in this exhibition are various in relation to the theme; some are more direct some are more metaphorical… How can we talk in Commons Tense? Artists answer this question with utilizing different concepts and tools from a wide range of possibilities opened up by the question itself.

Ebru Kurbak created a data catcher net which is an actual Faraday Cage, pointing out the electromagnetic environment that we are surrounded with which is (in) the public space, but carries coded and private information; how complicated the state of commons became with the extension of new media! Common-itchy carries a lot of references to the cultural background of the artists environment; Ahmet Sertaç Öztürk takes itch, which has a wide range of connotations in Turkish, and creates a common tool/station to agitate new associations to the word. Violation by Özlem Alkış, brings the most common values of humanity into attention and denotes the Globe wide tragedy of Human Rights. Özgün Kılıç and Sedef Aydoğan deal with the most common state of mind: forgetting. They take Viktor Mayer Schönberger’s statement and converge the digital and physical in the exhibition space in a highly abstract manner.


To further elaborate on the parent theme “Paratactic Commons” guests can visit amber’12 Arts and Technology Festival and Conference, to be held in November 2012 in Istanbul. amber’12 will host numerous international artists and researchers with their works around the theme. It will question whether ‘the commons’ can function as a counter-tactic to address a diversity of issues such as, the ecological system, social inequalities, ethnic conflicts, poverty and other problems created by the hegemony of global capitalism and privatization.


Since 2007 amberplatform operates within the field of new media in various ways: it organizes an annual international festival and conference on arts and technology, it fosters research and production, and it works on building a network of new media artists, by which it fosters intercultural dialogue and artistic exchange. amberplatform is supported by BIS (Body-Process Arts Association).


this project supported by Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the frame of  400 Years of Diplomatic Relations Between The Netherlands and Turkey Celebration

and Saha Association

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