Release Date: March 9, 2009
Exhibition at Kennesaw State features innovative site-specific installation
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KENNESAW, Ga.—The College of the Arts at Kennesaw State University presents Mike Mandel and Chantal Zakari's installation, "ATA-Türk" as part of KSU's celebration of the "Year of Turkey." Curated by KSU Art Museum & Galleries Director Will Hipps, the artists' most recent collaborative project opens with a reception from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 19 in the Fine Arts Gallery of the Joe Mack Wilson Building. There will also be a dialogue with the artists at 6 p.m. on March 19.
This collaborative work was designed specifically for KSU's Fine Arts Gallery. The project explores images of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic and the country's first president. According to the artists, this is a critical visual exploration on the meaning of Atatürk's imagery and how it is used in Turkish society today. Zakari and Mandel believe that he is the emblem of military power and that he is seen as the link to Western culture and as an obstacle for Islamist demands.
"One of the aspects of installation art is its transformative power," said Hipps, "and the imagery surrounds us with social, cultural and political realities, creating a dynamic environment and a truly transformative experience."
For 11 years, Mandel and Zakari have been collaborating on an artists' book, "the state of Ata," about the conflict between secularist culture and the Islamist movement in Turkey. The project includes photographs, interviews, artist interventions and archival imagery. "Mandel and Zakari use the energy of movement in projected images over static forms with different levels and qualities of representation. The photographic projections, paintings and the busts of Atatürk speak of the juxtaposition of secular, democratic and religious iconography," explained Hipps.
Some aspects of the show include an installation of 50 busts of Atatürk, a metaphor for the ubiquitousness of his sculptural presence throughout Turkey. Made out of resin plastic, these busts suggest an imperfect, degraded presence. A backdrop to the busts feature three eight-foot-high images of the Turkish landscape. Another component of the show is an artists' book titled "Taxi Rides." The book is designed in a photo-novella style depicting a performance Mandel and Zakari made, in which they engaged taxi drivers in search of Atatürk sculptures throughout Istanbul. The nine oil paintings in the show are based on collages made of photos taken by Mandel and Zakari and were executed by painters in China. A series of lightjet prints, presented as diptychs and triptychs, are of photo images of Turkish culture, religion, images of Atatürk, schools, advertising and Western influenced popular culture. Over all, the installation reflects the complex relationship in Turkey between secularists, the Islamist movement and military power.
"Taxi Rides" has been fully supported by generous funds by Kennesaw State University. It is conceived as part of another artists' book entitled "the state of Ata," funded in part by a grant by the Fulbright Commission for Educational Exchange Between The United States and Turkey, a MacDowell Colony fellowship, and Enrichment Grants from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Chantal Zakari is a Turkish-Levantine, a member of the Christian minority. Her education since childhood was filled with propagandistic images of Atatürk designed to personify a sense of national identity. As an artist, now living outside of Turkey, she has a more critical perspective. Zakari currently is a member at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Her most recent project "webAffairs," published in 2005, is a four-year documentary of an adult webcam community.
Mike Mandel has self-published nine projects, including co-authoring the seminal photographic work "Evidence" with Larry Sultan. For the past 30 years, he has been an artist working in photography and public art. Since 1993, he has received 20 public art commissions throughout the United States, including works for the San Francisco Airport, the Atlanta Federal Center and the Charlotte Arena. In 2005, his work was exhibited in the Berlin Biennale. In 2009, he will exhibit at Photo España in Madrid.
Admission to the exhibition is free. The Fine Arts Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday. The exhibition will continue through April 30.
For more information, visit www.kennesaw.edu/arts or call 770-499-3223.
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A member of the 35-unit University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State University is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing student population of more than 21,000 from 142 countries. The third-largest university in Georgia, Kennesaw State offers more than 65 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including new doctorates in education and business.
The KSU College of the Arts is one of only four Georgia institutions to have achieved full national accreditation for all of its arts programs.