Ahmet Güneştekin’s “Memory Room” exhibition was opened by PİLEVNELİ in Diyarbakır Keçi Burcu, hosted by Diyarbakır Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Famous names from the world of business, art and society came together at the opening.
Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, Diyarbakır Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Mehmet Kaya, Pilevneli Gallery Founder Murat Pilevneli, Leyla Alaton, Gülden – Yılmaz Yılmaz, Başak Sayan, Zeynep Demirel, Emin Hitay, Evin-Selçuk for the special invitation given in Diyarbakır for the opening ceremony Leading names of the business, art and media world such as Tümay, Feryal Gülman, Sedef Orman, Ayşe Boyner, Emek Küldür, İnci Aksoy, Fulya Nayman, Erol Özmandıracı-Naz Elmas attended.
The Memory Room exhibition brings together works from various media that show the artist’s shaping of objects. The Memory Room explores forms of artistic (re)remembering and offers ways to make audible the erased voices of those who would otherwise remain unheard and wholly forgotten. Güneştekin’s works show epistemic styles of resistance, opening up counter-memories that challenge the official discourse and developing solidarity with the fragmented memories of the past. The exhibition will run until 31 December 2021.
In his speech at the opening, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu said, “We will establish a tight culture-art bridge between Istanbul and Diyarbakır. With this bridge, we want to reinforce the appropriate events in Istanbul with Diyarbakır, and to bring them together with our friends from Diyarbakır, as well as to jointly organize many art activities that can be instrumental in bringing our people who cannot watch in Istanbul to Diyarbakır.”
I am very happy that Diyarbakır, the city of ancient cultures, hosted such a cultural event regarding Ahmet Güneştekin’s Memory Room exhibition, which was opened in İmamoğlu, Keçi Burcu. Because Diyarbakir is perhaps one of the cities most affected by the atmosphere in our country. For this reason, I would like to thank Ahmet Güneştekin on behalf of both our country and Diyarbakır on the occasion of the opening of the Memory Room exhibition, which is filtered through the art of our friend and will shed light on the memory of the country.”
Ahmet Güneştekin, in his speech for the opening, said, “As you can appreciate, each of my exhibitions has a special place for me. But this exhibition has another, very special meaning for me. I loved to paint like a child. I wish my family could see it before anyone else. If they approve, I would show it to others. “I feel like I’m showing my art to my family before anyone else, just like when I was a kid,” he said.
Emphasizing the importance of the exhibition opened in Diyarbakır Keçi Burcu, Güneştekin said, “Today we are here to witness a historical moment. Keçi Burcu, which has been closed for six years, is reopening today with its new face. Our host, Mehmet Kaya, the esteemed President of Diyarbakır Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and his assistant Fadıl Oğurlu, who brought Diyarbakır together with art at such a moment, deserves a special thanks. Also, I would like to thank Murat Pilevneli, the founder of Pilevneli Gallery, and his team, who have successfully continued my international projects from the very beginning… Thank you very much. I would like to thank all the institutions and organizations that supported the formation of this exhibition with their sponsorship and efforts.”
The Memory Room bears witness to an absence
In the Memory Room, which consists of the artist’s object installations and videos, these works witness an absence with their silence, uniqueness, and unprecedentedness, telling the history that emerged from this absence. It is always the duty of reminding that absence, deficiency, stubbornly waiting for today will not cease to aspire to this memory space until it is remembered and explained. The artist’s dimensional works, sculptures, and patchworks, where he creates a new narrative opportunity using mythology and iconographic elements, are among the results to be exhibited.
Focusing on the artist’s rearranging sound and images, the Memory Room asks the following questions: Where is the memory of historical events without witnesses? Where do their memories go when witnesses to the events die? Where are the unphotographed images stored? What are the traces left behind by events not recorded with the camera? But what happens if the opportunity for mourning is not recognized? In other words, what if the deficiency cannot be compensated through an image because what is missing is not a dead person but death itself?
The event survives on hold. It is something that cannot be fully remembered, but stubbornly resisted as an uncompromised past; a past that has not yet been remembered, whose history has not yet been written. While the images of some things that have happened are only in the minds of those who have seen them at that moment, some events no longer have any observers other than the souls of the dead. How can we make them audible, how can we contain them in the realms of experience, memory and history? The material of the artist’s works exhibited in the Memory Room is the appearances of this imageless past that he carries in his memory.
Güneştekin’s installations place a grammar that can testify to the erasure of events, their obligatory historical repetition, and their stubbornness in resisting oblivion. Resistance to oblivion depends on the ability to live in the cracks and gaps of a memory that serves as a silent accompaniment rather than revealing it. That’s why those events speak another language, precisely where they are not given the opportunity to mourn and remember. The artist’s installations do not attempt to speak for the unheard. They represent the intangible, overflowing surplus of silenced extinction.
But what is at issue here is not simply the demand for the existence of an as-yet-untold history, the absence of which is strongly demonstrated in the work. The issue is the recurring, lasting effects that this silence continues to create and will continue to create in the future as it is formally and institutionally erased. The past is remembered here for its resistance to oblivion; moreover, he is remembered only for his resistance, for this resistance he showed through the repeated experience of his loss.
The artist’s works do not merely represent the forms that memory takes when it cannot find any other way to be revealed, to be acknowledged and to rest. Nor do the works attempt to speak for others, give them a voice, or provide any other form of relief; it does not attempt to replace the impossible mourning represented by the fictional encounter between the unmourned dead and disembodied names. They are only accompanied by this incomprehensible, unimaginable law, its empty and ghostly existence. What we discover in the encounter between nameless dead bodies and disembodied names that are weeping, buried, remembered on the threshold of memory and oblivion, is the story of a road; this path leads to the possibility of apologizing and making up in a present where it would not be possible to face otherwise.
For the artist, memory is an amorphous, ever-changing field of view. Open to shaping and renegotiating, it stands at the intersection of the personal and the common, the past and the future. What the work in the Memory Room reveals is that artistic forms of (re)remembering can open up ways to rewrite an as yet unresolved past.
A comprehensive book published by PİLEVNELİ accompanies the exhibition. The publication includes Şener Özmen’s article in which he offers a multi-layered reading of the artist’s research and practices intertwined with the context of political and cultural history. The book also includes a comprehensive conversation in which Özmen and Güneştekin discussed the theoretical framework of the exhibition and discussed important issues related to contemporary art politics. Deniz Bank, Arçelik, Tatko 1926 and Lokal Enerji are among the sponsoring institutions for the exhibition.