ANIMAL FARM

09.09.2017 - 04.11.2017

Ferhat Özgür

“All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others”.

“Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which”.

George Orwell
“Animal Farm”, 1945

The Pill® is pleased to announce Ferhat Özgür’s solo show “Animal Farm” opening in parallel to the 15.th Istanbul Biennale. The exhibition showcases, in a critical manner, the doctrines we need as a way of deliverance within today’s social and political turmoil and, in fact, surmises how useless they are in our current realities. Based on George’s Orwell’s allegorical novella Animal Farm and entirely composed of animal and bird figures as leading characters, Özgür converts our own socio-political environment into a multi-dimensional fictional journey.
This spatial fiction, consisting dominantly of decommissioned Government ballot boxes, is a kind of socio-political deconstructive challenge. Dismantled and subsequently reassembled, the ballot boxes besiege the entire gallery space with a large-scale wolf sculpture alongside a group of somewhat beleaguered and indecisive sheep. Deriving from the folk tales of “wolf and sheep” which feature in almost every cultural tradition, the artist re-evaluates this structure as a sign of individual and social paradigms, including his own personal messages and advice.
Ferhat Özgür – whose practice has been focusing on social and political issues- has been collaborating on several projects with poet and historian Efe Murad*, who this time contributed to the exhibition with a fable added as another layer to the work, especially written for this show.
The fable makes the animals speak the truth through their own voices. Leaving all the political meanings produced by the ballots aside, the quest for democracy will not be sufficient to sustain the human species. The true catastrophe has not come yet. Climate change, and the thousands of bacteria and viruses that will be released by the ice melting, the upcoming interplanetary migration flux, the proliferation of methane gas emissions due to cow overpopulation… All of these put the Anthropocene at the heart of this fable.
A wall to wall site-specific photograph designed for this exhibition, brings together various bird illustrations taken from two volumes of the “Rare Birds Atlas”, which the artist found in a rubbish bin at a bus stop in Bern in 2012, alongside some property adverts taken from airline magazines collected during his travels. As a ‘guerrilla’ tactic, another large-scaled mural painting (applied with a stencil technique) features the penguin family to mark the neutralized or depoliticized human society.
By inviting us on a multi-layered journey and bringing forward many crucial ongoing issues, such as nature, animal rights, gentrification and environmental destruction, the artist with his new site-specific installation emphasizes the deadlock of our current situation. Interspersing his aesthetic negotiations over the past four years since his last solo show, throughout “Animal Farm” Ferhat Özgür helps to focus our attention on the three most outstanding issues which strengthen and embellish our social togetherness namely: Curiosity, Ethics and Aestheticism.

Ferhat Özgür is one of the most influential multimedia artists of his generation. His work focuses on socio-political issues such as identity, gender, historiography, ethnicity. He has participated in numerous international biennials and exhibitions such as the 6.th Berlin Biennial curated by Kathrin Romberg (2010), the 10.th Istanbul Biennial curated by Hou Hanru (2007), and his works has been exhibited in several institutions worldwide, including MoMA PS1 (curated by Klaus Biesenbach, 2013), Zabludowicz Fondation (2016), and is included in many public and private collections among which Museum der Moderne Salzburg (Austria), Centre Pompidou (Paris-France), FRAC-Bordeaux (France), Istanbul Modern (Turkey), Vehbi Koc Fondation (Istanbul-Turkey), Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo (Torino-Italy).

Efe Murad studied philosophy at Princeton and is working towards his PhD in Ottoman History and Arabic Philosophy at Harvard. He has published five books of poetry and five books of translations from the Iranian poets M. Azad and Fereydoon-e Moshiri and from the American poets C. K. Williams, Susan Howe, and Lyn Hejinian in Turkish. Together with Sidney Wade, he prepared a selection from the œuvre of Turkish poet Melih Cevdet Anday (Talisman Press, 2017). His poems, writings and translations in English have appeared in a wide range of journals and exhibitions including the thirteenth Istanbul Biennial. He is currently working on the complete Turkish translation of Ezra Pound’s Cantos.