The Oxymoron of Normality at Depo Istanbul

The Oxymoron of Normality at DEPO Tütün Deposu Lüleci in Istanbul, Turkey, is an exhibition which brings together artists from Poland and Turkey. Organized by the Arsenal Gallery in Bialystok, Poland, the show is part of the cultural program of the 600th anniversary of the Polish-Turkish diplomatic relations in 2014. The Oxymoron of Normality. We are Europeans, but perhaps not in a full sense is curated by Monika Szewczyk and aims to cover the condition of countries in the area of Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans. It features the artists Can Altay, Fatma Bucak, Hera Büyüktaşcıyan, Hubert Czerepok, Oskar Dawicki, Anna Konik, Zbigniew Libera, Franciszek Orlowski, Jadwiga Sawicka, Konrad Smoleński, Ali Taptik, Marek Wasilewski, and Piotr Wysocki. The exhibition runs until November 30. In this video, curator Monika Szewczyk talks about the concept of the exhibition, and the artists Ali Taptik, Franciszek Orlowski, Marek Wasilewski, Fatma Bucak, and Hubert Czerepok talk about the work they present in the show.

The Oxymoron of Normality at DEPO Tütün Deposu Lüleci in Istanbul, Turkey. Video by Ania Ejsmont and Bogdan Szetela.

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Monika Szewczyk:

This exhibition is directly inspired by the work of Alexander Kiossev (Notes on Self-Colonising Cultures, B.Pejic, D.Elliot (red) After the Wall. Art and Culture in post-Communist Europe, Stockholm 1999) regarding the condition of East-Central European and the Balkan countries. The suggestion to look for the sources of their problems with self-definition and discovering their identity further than the simple lack of continuity in the democratic process, caused by the communist era, seems particularly interesting. Kiossev calls such countries “self-colonizing cultures”, emphasizing the fact that this colonization is in a way “voluntary” and happens without any external force. We cannot identify with values which we consider Universal, but we also cannot reject them in favour of our own values. We try to cope with this in various ways; either by constant comparisons and applying the “normality” measure and asking when “when will it be normal in here” meaning the way it is THERE; or by repressing and rejecting the obvious notion of the marginality of Polish culture, pretending to be a part of the Universe and assuming that we have a special role in shaping the European culture, by over-emphasizing own values, unjustly forgotten culture standards and finally by looking for those guilty of “doing it to us” by falsifying the history. In any case we consistently avoid facing the fact that our culture has not become inferior because it became dependant on alien elements, but at its very core it has been constituted as dependant because of realizing its own inferiority. That would allow us to replace the “normal-pathology” opposition with “central-peripheral” and would allow us to accept our condition.

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