Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin
Democratic Luxury / Demokratik Lüks

Rampa Istanbul

August 25, 2015

Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin
Democratic Luxury / Demokratik Lüks

2 September–14 November 2015

Rampa Istanbul
Şair Nadim Caddesi No: 21a
Beşiktaş, Istanbul


“I investigate the beautiful and the vulgar and the relationship between them.”
– Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin

Rampa Istanbul is pleased to present a major retrospective and the first posthumous gallery show of Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin, one of Turkey’s most important contemporary artists. Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin (1957–2007) was a leading figure in the art scene of Istanbul and was part of the first generation of Turkish artists considered to be globally active and nationally influential.

The exhibition brings together over 45 works produced during the two decades on either side of the new millennium, including a selection of studies, drawings and notes from the Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin archive. Since the early 1990s, Alptekin focused on an artistic production broad in scope, which included photographs, sculptures, installation, neon text, videos, and collages—”plastic art” reflecting the prosaic material qualities of “global junk” that came with the flow of transnational free-market capitalism. This dislocation of geography recurs as a thematic strand in much of his practice, analyzing how a society’s representations of “other” places conform to our desires and stereotypes. 

Alptekin was fascinated by the difference between the promise of something and its banal reality. This promise could lie in the name of a cheap hotel offering the experience of some distant place, or in the branding of a mass-produced product unconvincingly simulating luxuriousness or exoticism. Alptekin saw the profound effects of global capitalism firsthand, observing the movement of people and products across geographies, particularly in the period following the collapse of the Soviet Union. He himself was also a traveler, studious of forms of feral capitalism surging from places considered the fringes of Western modernity. As a traveler in his early student days, he bore witness to these unstable models of capitalism at the fringes of the West, and the burgeoning effects of mobility, trade, and image circulation became the material for his artmaking.

Democratic Luxury has been developed as a collaboration between M HKA (Museum for Contemporary Art, Antwerp) and RAMPA Istanbul, with the displays across both venues together forming a major retrospective of Alptekin’s work.

The exhibition will also consider his collaborative initiatives with other artists, such as the Bunker Research Group (BRG) or the Sea Elephant Travel Agency, which aspired to organize a “floating laboratory” for artists and thinkers to circumnavigate the Black Sea, developing critical discussions and artistic exchange while tracing the route taken by the protagonist in Jules Verne’s novel Kéraban the Inflexible (1883). 

About the artist
Artist, writer, lecturer, and curator, Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin (1957-2007) studied aesthetics, philosophy of art and sociology in Ankara and Paris. He worked as a photographer for SIPA Press and wrote for various publications as an art and design critic. Starting in the early 1990′s, Alptekin focused on an artistic production that explored the effects of globalization, immigration and exile, cross cultural image circulation and anonymous production through travel, personal histories and archives. His cross-referential work, consisting of photo installations, collages, videos, objects and, once, a life-size truck overloaded with colorful plastic soccer balls, represent a multi-layered, complex visual language.

In 2007, he represented Turkey in the 52nd Venice Biennial with his installation Don’t Complain. The same year, he participated in the exhibition Global Cities at the Tate Modern in London. From 2000–04, he ran a non-profit artists’ collective called Sea Elephant Travel Agency (SETA) that hosted a residency program for artists as well as organized conferences. His exhibition credits include the São Paolo Biennial (1998); the Cetinje Biennial (2002), for which he won the UNESCO Prize; How Latitudes Become Forms, Walker Art Center (2003); Manifesta 5 (2004); 2nd and 3rd Tirana Biennial (2003, 2005); and the İstanbul Biennial (1995, 2005, 2009). Solo exhibitions include Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin: Facts, Incidents, Accidents, Circumstances, Situations, Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź (2013); Festival Istambul Agora – Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin, SESC Pompeia, Sao Paulo (2013); I Am Not A Studio Artist, Salt, İstanbul (2011); Global Mockery, Maison de Folie de Wazemmes, Lille (2009); and Kriz: Viva Vaia, Dulcinea Gallery, İstanbul (1999).

About Rampa Istanbul
Rampa Istanbul is one of Istanbul’s leading contemporary art galleries. Located in Akaretler, Beşiktaş, Rampa is one of the largest galleries in Istanbul and is comprised of two separate spaces. The first space on the ground floor functions as a project room. The main gallery, with a footprint of 900 square meters, is designed as an open space in order to accommodate diverse exhibitions, providing facilities for large-scale works and installations. Established by Arif and Leyla Tara Suyabatmaz, the gallery is committed to the realization and presentation of exceptional artworks, to communicating with a broader audience, and to supporting scholarly research about the gallery artists. Rampa facilitates the production and presentation of artworks across diverse mediums and strives to create an innovative and critical forum for artistic production and discourse. Rampa aspires to contribute to the international acknowledgment of its artists by building sustainable collaborations with curators, museums, and cultural institutions and placing works by its artists in leading private and public collections.

Press contact
Nigel Rubenstein, Flint Public Relations, Istanbul:
T + 90 212 241 02 14 / nigel.rubenstein [​at​] flint­pr.com