GAMES, GAMES, GAMES
neon installation, dimensions variable, 2013
“Volkan Aslan is preoccupied with objects that are made to speak. Collecting and assembling found objects and images —ranging from film stills and photographs to flea market knickknacks and old tables—he gives agency to these objects that are often considered as merely human imprints or traces. In Aslan’s installations, found objects do not simply document the past or testify to a nostalgic moment as they occupy the position of the witness, but more importantly, they are placed in the templates he creates from scratch, and thereby made to tell new stories. His ready-mades produce their own constituency as they are distanced, if not detached, from their own past, and assume an audience who is invited to construct new memories and identities to the objects on display
For the 13th Istanbul Biennial, Aslan creates a familiar, if not everyday, object: five interlocking rings coloured blue, yellow, black, green, and red—mimicking the renowned symbol of the Olympic Games since 1920. Games Games Games (2013) immediately refers to the institutional identity of the international sporting event, yet Aslan creates a twist by using fading neon lights and a display that looks as if it can collapse any time, pointing to vulnerability rather than a presumed idealism for peace and development. Games Games Games dangles from a wooden beam at the top-floor of the Galata Greek Primary School, as if it is trying to hold on to the support structure of the building. Rather than being a contained sculpture in itself, neon rings also create an atmosphere, playing with the perception of space.
Aslan’s gesture suggests the potential urban residues of the Olympic Games that has recently turned into a city branding strategy, causing arbitrary demolitions, large-scale constructions, and idle buildings designed for this mega event.
The use of a known template in Games Games Games recalls a previous work, Exhibition Hall (2009) where Aslan mounted a signboard in an empty space, using golden-colored metal letters that read the sculpture’s own title, often used in exhibition spaces of local municipalities in Istanbul. With Games Games Games, the artist further complicates the absurd gesture of highlighting the institution’s attempt to predefine spaces. This time, he distorts the symbol of the object he uses—the Olympic rings—and assigns an unexpected symbol that evokes a potential failure. The artist thus invites the viewer not only to question the object’s function but also the power structures that lie behind it.”
Özge Ersoy, Guide- 13th Istanbul Biennial p.332-333
installation view from “MOM, I AM BARBARIAN?” 13th Istanbul Biennial
curated by Fulya Erdemci, Galata Greek School - Istanbul