Servet Koçyiğit’s first solo exhibition in Norway explores lands, materials, and territories. The Turkish, Amsterdam-based artist is creating his own “chart” or immersive map that analyzes the fundamentals of belonging. The notion of translatio—of cultures, bodies, ideas, materials, nature, and nations—is central to the exhibition. In his large-scale installations, literal meanings are transformed into experiences encompassing different senses. The three site-related installations are created in and for Bergen.
After a comprehensive research trip to Bergen and its surroundings, including visits to an old hydroelectric dam, shipyards, as well as craft, industrial, and ethnographic museums, the artist decided to focus on themes that have been prevalent in his artistic thinking and output to date. One is the environmental crisis that plagues the globe: The ongoing dilemma between the desire to save nature and the means of “using” it, namely through the creation of dams or power plants is a highly relevant topic both in Norway and transnationally.
Koçyiğit was inspired by a photograph of an environmental protest in Hardanger, showing a group of police officers around a container carrying down a female activist dressed in a bunad, the Norwegian national folk costume. Using the bunad in protests has a long history in Norway, and bunads today are seen to embody political power. The photo with the activist Synnøve Kvamme, taken in 2011, has since become a symbol of resistance to building power stations in natural habitats.
The moment captured and eternalized within the photo has a striking resemblance to the iconic Christian subject in The Descent from the Cross or The Deposition of Christ and connects to a previous photographic work by Koçyiğit (Motherland, 2007). Building on this religious imagery, Koçyiğit engages with diverse dichotomies such as female/male, industry/nature, and civilian/authority figures. In Bergen, Koçyiğit “translates” this photograph and makes it into a contemporary “icon” in the form of a wall-hanging tapestry.
Koçyiğit uses materials that have been used globally for thousands of years in home-making, such as stone, wood, and wool. One of the installations presents a deconstructed loom in the form of a wooden container. Stones, used in looms as weights during the weaving process, are connected to wool threads traversing the exhibition space. The threads in the air, resembling power lines in a landscape, culminate in a large panoramic photo of a sublime foreign landscape. In Norwegian context, the container might remind us of Norway’s status as one of the biggest exporters of gas and oil in the world. Paradoxically, Norway is also playing a leading role in advising other countries to pursue more ambitious climate politics to reach the Paris Agreement temperature targets.
Adding the representational language of mapping to his long-standing artistic vocabulary of handcraft, which incorporates photography, video, and sculpture, Koçyiğit has also created a wall installation connected to the ship-building industry. Based on the Norwegian wooden forms that have been used for centuries to build boats and ships, these patterns turn into compasses. The compasses created with circular drawings and different shapes of wooden patterns ask questions about Norway’s sense of direction in the past, present, and future.
Building the new installations in and for Bergen, Koçyiğit expands his geographical focus, taking him to uncharted territories. As an artist investigating history’s geographies, and places where one belongs, Koçyiğit investigates landscapes and immigration, the movement of traditions, people, and territories. He strongly believes that “we were all immigrants once”.
UNCHARTED is a fitting exhibition for a port city such as Bergen. Similar to how the sea brings in different cultures, languages, and viewpoints into the city, this exhibition invites multivalent readings and interpretations. ...just like the open waters.
The exhibition is curated by the art historian and guest curator Lora Sariaslan (Ph.D), who has closely researched and followed Koçyiğit’s oeuvre.
Kunsthall 3,14 would like to thank the following museums and institutions for opening their doors and welcoming Servet Koçyiğit on his research trip: Hordamuseet, Osterøy Museum, Kabuso, Fartøyvernsenteret, Hardanger Folkemuseum, Tekstilindustrimuseet, Oselvar Verkstaden and Vestnorsk Utvandringssenter.
Special thanks to the photographer Terje Nesthus for giving Servet Koçyiğit Fair use of his image of Synnøve Kvamme.
The exhibition is made possible with financial support from the Mondriaan Fund, the public cultural funding organization focusing on visual art and cultural heritage.