BM Contemporary Art Center,
Serkan Özkaya, Keith Arnatt is an Artist. 1997.
The Turkish artist Serkan Özkaya is going to open his seventh personal exhibition on 5th February 1997, Wednesday, at the BM contemporary Art Center. The exhibition consists of the script Keith Arnatt is an Artist on the wall of the art gallery. As it is known, Keith Arnatt had exhibited the same script in 1972 at the Tate gallery. Özkaya refers to Keith Arnatt’s work, yet this time the distinctiveness leads to a completely new reading of it. Today, where the receptive aesthetics gains an increased importance, Serkan Özkaya, within the context of this exhibition, states himself not as an artist but as art-audience. Refusing to produce new images, Özkaya will exhibit his work until 14th February.
Serkan Özkaya was born in 1973 in Istanbul. He graduated from the German High School and majored in German studies at the University of Istanbul. In 1992 at the Merkez Art Gallery, Istanbul, he opened a personal painting exhibition in which everyday objects were portrayed in strict isolation from their environment. The titles reflected the relation between the painting and the object like Flower Painting, Pullover Painting etc.
In the same year he published a booklet entitled “The Reality”, which focused on the relation between the function of the objects and their common names. For example: an unplugged electric shaving machine which is still called an electric shaving machine, and a pill whose contents have been emptied out, etc.
In January 1993 the artist again exhibited his works, this time at the BM Contemporary Art Center in Istanbul. The exhibition, entitled Gravity Exhibition, consisted of scales and numbered paint boxes. The sculptures consisted of nine paint boxes situated on each of eleven scales and numbered from top to bottom.
The next month, February 1993, he opened his third solo show where he displayed seven canvases with Art Work on them.
In the same year Özkaya used 1500 carton boxes, 30cmx30cmx60cm, creating his fourth personal exhibition at the Kadiköy Center of Culture and Arts. The boxes were connected with each other, thus, the huge dimensions of the work, and its ratio to the art gallery hindered the audience from viewing it from outside, contrary to the usual art work-reception-tradition.
In 1994 Serkan Özkaya published a booklet in which he interprets the concepts of art, words, art work, and art gallery. He changed the well-known phrase from the concentration camps, “Arbeit macht frei.” to “Arbeiten, Macht, Freiheit” (Working, Power, Freedom) thus, using it as the name of this art booklet.
In 1995 he sabotaged the Kadiköy Center for Culture and Arts surrounding it with yellow-black stripes. The invitation card was a sticker on which was written “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”. The recipients of the cards would stick it on any object they pleased creating several art works without an artist.
In May 1996 in his sixth personal exhibition the artist divided the art gallery of the Atatürk Cultural Center Istanbul into equal cubes, where he used the yellow-black tapes again. The tape used for the exhibition, almost one kilometer in length, passed round the gallery from left to right, from up to down, and from front to the end and built cubes, each edge 150cm.
Özkaya applied to the Louvre museum on 18th November 1996, in order to display Mona Lisa, the famous Leonardo da Vinci painting, upside down for a couple of days, which the museum management considers to discuss. They have not come to a final decision yet.