"Music Room (Athens)", 2017
Installation view, documenta 14, Athens, Greece, 2017
Aladag’s installation “Musikzimmer” (music room) consists out of interior objects, chairs, umbrella stands or coffee tables that Aladag had altered by professional instrument builders. A mid-century armchair suddenly becomes a plucked string instrument as in „armchair, concertguitar“ for example. The concept of Hausmusik (home music) usually describes a tradition of having concerts at private houses that became popular during 18th century. While chamber music (Kammermusik) was mostly reserved for royalty, the rise of Hausmusik and the Musikzimmer developed parallel to the rise of power of the bourgeoisie. Nevin Aladag offers with her „Musikzimmer“ an exciting metamorphoses and actualization of this history. And not at last, when seated in the arm chair, the human body of the sitter function as its own resonator.
"Pattern Kinship (Musterverwandtschaft)", 2016
190 x 130 cm
“Pattern Kinship (Musterverwandtschaft)”showcase a diverse landscape of ornaments and patterns, which intentionally were used in different cultures as Venetian blinds to secure intimacy and privacy. As objects in space, detached of their original setting, they become exceptional/new elements of form, questioning human practices of protecting the private sphere. Aladag has continuously worked on notion of social (in-)visibility and undermined a predetermined gaze on what is conceived as oriental and what is regarded as western. Her new series offers a juxtaposition of architectural forms that in reality could not have met, being from different geographical origins and from various times. Yet, as in her earlier „Pattern Matching“ series it is precisely and only in her works that a historically impossible blend of divers styles and forms generates a unique new hybrid.
"Screens I–III", 2016
Installation, Kunstplatz Graben, Vienna, Austria, 2016
Photo: Iris Ranziger
“Screen I–III”, Nevin Aladag’s intervention on Vienna’s Graben, temporarily lays claim to, and thus defines and defies, a bustling urban place. Three screens obstruct and disguise the commotion of the inner city and, with their stony presence, adorn the promenade like tapestries. Marking the boundaries of a space, drawing contours and axes within a field of movement regulated by shop windows and urban furniture, and mapping a place of engagement, the screens evade the everyday protocols.
"Screens I–III", 2016
Installation, Kunstplatz Graben, Vienna, Austria, 2016
Photo: Iris Ranziger
Screen I–III, Nevin Aladag’s intervention on Vienna’s Graben, temporarily lays claim to, and thus defines and defies, a bustling urban place. Three screens obstruct and disguise the commotion of the inner city and, with their stony presence, adorn the promenade like tapestries. Marking the boundaries of a space, drawing contours and axes within a field of movement regulated by shop windows and urban furniture, and mapping a place of engagement, the screens evade the everyday protocols.
"Social Fabric # 2", 2017
carpet pieces on wood
123 x 98 x 4.5 cm
The series „Social Fabric“ bring together the seemingly disparate subjects of different carpets from all over the world. The resulting hybrid objects, made of cut-out parts of existing carpets that are produced anywhere from Maghreb to China, the United States to Iraq, serve as evidence of conflicting ways of being and reveal patterns that dont match. Each carpet displays a unique composition of colors and ornament. Meanings change, it seems, but the patterns still match, somehow.
"Pattern Matching Blue", 2010
(Kilims from Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey; hand-woven carpets from Iraq and India & industrial knotted carpets from Germany and China)
256 × 150 cm
“Pattern Matching” brings together the seemingly disparate subjects of basketball, the famous American athletic export, and Oriental carpets, probably the most successful commercial product in the world that originates from the Middle East. Setting differences aside, lets consider these two incommensurable categories—the game and the object of everyday use—as two cultural expressions, in order to make the matching of their respective patterns possible and productive. Aladag densely filled her carpets with a collage of ornamentation while respecting the lines and color fields that define the borders and mark important points on a basketball court. The artist proposes that we consider such patterns in the widest possible sense, going beyond their visual appearance: thus, they conjure conflicting patterns of behavior, opposing lifestyles and mutually exclusive rules that give shape to social and political realities of our supposedly globalized world and its distinctly local manifestations. By overlapping or “matching” the patterns that belong to different semantic orders— that of the “Western” game and the “Oriental” ornament—Aladag produces a soft clash of meanings. The resulting hybrid objects, made of cut-out parts of existing carpets that are produced anywhere from Maghreb to China, Germany to Iraq, serve as evidence of conflicting ways of being and reveal patterns that dont match: mass event versus domesticity, action versus leisure, professional athletic games dominated by men versus womens domestic work, enter- tainment (as a secular religion) versus religion itself, the US versus the “rogue” states (that produce carpets) and perhaps even war versus peace… Each carpet displays a unique composition of colors and ornament, though the basic linear structure on which the colors and patterns are laid out remains the same for each piece. Meanings change, it seems, but the patterns still match, somehow. (excerpt of the text by Adam Szymczyk)
"Paravent / Social Fabric #3", 2013
Collage with carpets of different origin and production conditions. From knotted kelims, virgin wool and silk carpets skull industrial produced Tretford, Sisal and wool carpets
180 × 245 × 4 cm
Installation view Villa Merkel, Esslingen, Germany, 2013. The subject of borders and transgressing borders is here not just addressed in terms of content, but also formally. The framework of this order are the rational and strict forms of Bauhaus/de Stijl. Nevin Aladag stages the walk- able space of the carpet vertically, as a pane that constitutes a space – that of the paravent or folding screen. The folding screen serves as protection: originally as wind protection in China; in western countries it protects the private and intimate from the gaze of strangers. The initially horizontal form of the carpet is brought by the artist into a vertical position, thus blurring the categories of picture and sculpture and changing how they are read. A top view becomes a horizontal view, and we can only read the entire image by walk- ing through the individual motifs. Aladag here runs through the various connotations of ‘social fabric’: social spaces are constituted by social fabrics, i.e., the demographic, historical, and cultural segments that constitute the structure of a society. This form of social fabric manifests itself simultaneously in Aladag’s objects in the very concrete fabric, the individual fibres from which the narratives are spun in every single carpet. All segments of Aladag’s object have a contemporary origin, even though formal references suggest various temporalities; questions about the concrete conditions of production, globalised trade, and post- colonial perspectives are thus introduced into the work as well. In her pre- sentation, Aladag yields to a democratic impulse – provenance and quality are subjected to the purely formal and aesthetic construction. In Paravent, Social Fabric #1, the wall in front of us consists not just of various carpets, but rather of different foundations on which we build our idea of personal and social history.
"Stiletto / No Melody (4:10 min)", 2011
Galvanized metal plate in wooden frame
95 x 95 cm
In a thin sheet of metal, we see marks left by stiletto heels during a dance performance. The way the tin plate functions here is analogous to a photographic plate: The heels have pressed themselves into the material as the trace of a moment, just as a beam of light leaves behind a photochemical reaction on the negative, bearing witness to something that was once there. Aladag presents the metal sheet’s rverse where the heel prints protrude towards us, corresponding tot he photographic positive.
"Raise the Roof", 2007
“Abwehr Performance – Festival”, Berlin, Germany, 2007. Four female dancers move, each one for herself, to songs that cannot be heard by the viewer. With their Stiletto heels they appear to tear up the tar covered rooftop; the electronically amplified sound of these charged dance steps create a new wild hearing experience, which in turn unites the isolated movement of the dancers. The performence takes place on a former border section between West and East Berlin; this roof served as a patrol route for GDR border soldiers and was heavily guarded. (excerpt from text by Anke Hoffmann)
3-channel video installation, HD video, each audio channel mono, each film 6 min.
“Traces” (2015) is a large-scale sound-and-image portrait of the city of Stuttgart, Germany where Aladag grew up. Western European instruments – such as an accordion produced in the region – can be seen and heard. For instance, an accordion that plays as it unfolds along the length of a lamppost, or a frame drum that rolls loudly through a park landscape. A flute trills as it sails off into the sky with a balloon; the chestnuts in a chestnut tree play a gong and a violin turns on a merry-go-round. Especially the moments of the orchestrated interaction of only partially controllable sounds are fascinating about this work.
HD video, 3 channel video installation, à 6min, loop
The six-minute 3-channel video work “Session” was made for the Sharjah Biennial 2013. As a compositional piece, it deals with the interplay of instruments from the Emirates, all of which are made to sound by urban space. We hear dynamic rhythms and sounds of rattles, drums, tambourines, and bells, all of them percussive instruments that were found by the artist in the city. They reflect the countries of origin – like Pakistan, India, Iraq, etc. – of the people living in Sharjah.
"Leaning Wall (21)", 2013/2017
Imprints of female and male body parts cast in colour-glazed Meissen porcelain
The work consists of imprints of female and male body parts cast in ceramic. The pieces spread along the wall of the gallery like a climbing wall, inviting viewers to lean on, to see how their own body fits into this assemblage, which may well represent the average of society. Each viewer will surely find shapes that match and others that are completely at odds with his own body. They oscillate between the individual and the universal, they show a pattern – and the freedom to break away from it.
94 bullet segments, cast iron, diameter 16 cm
Installation view Kunsthalle Basel, Basel, Switzerland, 2014
For the back wall of Kunsthalle Basel, the artist has conceived the installation „Marsch“. The wall serves as an outsize sheet of music that shows the opening bars of the Rondo alla Turca by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Also known as the Turkish March, the Rondo “in the Turkish style” was composed by Mozart in 1783/84 as the last movement of his Piano Sonata No. 11 in A major (KV 331). Its musical motifs imitate “Ottoman” percussion instruments as employed in Janissary music (a term denoting the music of the Ottoman military). Nevin Aladag represents the heads of the notes by means of cast-iron hemispheres that are based on an original cannonball preserved in the Historical Museum in Basel. Their volumes vary, giving the impression that they have been fired at the wall with varying degrees of force. Aladag thereby calls to mind the true purpose of military music: its primary function is to dictate the choreography of troop movements, both on the battlefield and in peacetime parades. The time signature determines the marching speed and formation of the soldiers. The psychological role of military music is equally relevant: it is intended to reinforce esprit de corps and at the same time intimidate the opponent.
"Tusch 1" (left) and "Tusch 2" (right), both 2015
Installation view Wentrup, Berlin, Germany, 2015
“Tusch” is a sequel to her work “Marsch” from 2014, which was shown at several venues, including an outdoor installation at Kunsthalle Basel. Castings of 17th century cannonballs are the basic elements in Marsch and Tusch. A Tusch is a fanfare, usually played in performative contexts to introduce, conclude or emphasize speeches or performances by honored soloists or conductors. Aladag notates one such Tusch on the wall – the heads of the notes are the cannonballs, which undergo a musical reinterpretation of their original ballistic milieu. Nevertheless, Aladag leads us back to the projectile context, for it is a fanfare that introduces the shooting of the cannon in the circus. The cannonballs’ notation depicts the fanfare that acoustically announces their entrance into the ring.
Installation view, Wentrup, Berlin, Germany, 2011
“Makramé”, an object made out of wire cable, offers an unusual view of a technique usually seen in the context of textiles. The knotting patterns of the macramé are visualizations of the pattern inherent in the cable itself: each of its threads consists of different strands that reveal a pattern when seen in section. Aladag imitates this microscopic structure in the pattern of knots, thus not only making visible the craft involved, but also allowing the cable to reveal its own inner structure in visually comprehensible form.
"City Language I / Şehir Sesi I", 2009
Commissioned by the 11. International Istanbul Biennial, 2009. First part of trilogy. “City Language I” is a single-channel projection showing four segments of equal size. First we see an arm holding a flute out of a moving car. The airstream animates the instrument in the true sense of the word; not human breath but the movement of the object itself through space breathes life into it. The image focuses on the instrument and a blurred landscape in the background appears to be painted by the sound of the instrument. In the adjacent part of the image, waves of water play a tambourine. The human individual as a player moves outside the picture and only a thin chord leads us back to our own vantage point which, as in the car journey, is in motion: a boat seems to be pulling the tambourine through the waves. In the third segment, the camera is static, pointed at a Turkish stringed instrument: the baglama lies on the ground in a public space and once again the musician is replaced, this time by a flock of pigeons. Strewn with grain, the instrument is now played by pecking birds. In the final segment, the instrument emancipates itself completely to become a being in its own right: claves make their way through the city as if of their own accord, rolling loudly down the steps of an alley, seeming to have detached themselves entirely from their actual modus operandi, i.e., being played or used. All four instruments ring out in familiar but strange ways. Step by step, Aladag replaces the musician, until in the last segment the instruments no longer need anyone — they seem to be walking through the city on their own.
"City Language II", 2009
8 Videos of 2 – 4 min.
In the video “City Language II”, the city speaks to us again, this time filmed via the rearview mirror of a motorcycle. In this work, Aladag portrays a simultaneity of future, present, and past: the now is manifested in the object of the mirror, which in the English-speaking world is often engraved with the words “objects in mirror are closer than they appear”, replaced here with passages from contemporary pop songs. The road that lies ahead remains a blur due to the speed of the vehicle. Only with the spatial and temporal retrospection in the mirrors, by (literally) looking back into the past, does the world become focused and legible. (excerpt of the text by Nico Anklam) Second part of the trilogy.
"Top View", 2012
HD video loop, 2:48 min.
For the video, Nevin Aladag approached people of different ages, ethnicities, sexes, and social classes in the center of Munich and asked them to perform a few dance steps for the camera. Although the people in the film remain anonymous, and one sees little more than their shoes and the movements of their feet, even these tell a lot about people’s identities. Aladag composed some fifty of the filmed sequences into a loop whose sound is made up of heels clicking and soles scraping on the pavement of Munich’s sidewalks and squares.
Performance, “Post Monument, XIV Biennale Internazionale di Scultura”, Carrara Three professional racing cars for Rallye drive through the quarry and the city center of Carrara in walking speed for approximately three hours. Performance duration 3 hours Video 6:20 min
"Familie Tezcan, [The Tezcan Family]", 2001
Video, 6:40 min
Familie Tezcan is a video portrait of a German family of Turkish origin break- dancing and singing in four different languages – Turkish, Arabic, German and English. The family members create a hybrid form of contemporary dance derived from their interpretation of American popular culture.