Ismail Saray • From England with Love
SALT Galata - Istanbul • 13 September till 2 November 2014
SALT Ulus - Ankara • 18 November 2014 till 10 January 2015
Royal College of Art Graduate Ismail Saray has recently been the subject of a comprehensive exhibition of works archived by SALT, a leading Turkish arts foundation.
A trail of his life experience made up of documents, photographs, drawings, videos, fragments of works and original pieces have been pulled together over last two years by SALT’s archivists, Duygu Demir, Sezin Romi, Ozge Karagoz and Ayse Koklu on the conviction that “the artist holds a canonical place for the artistic environment of the 1970s and early 1980s in Turkey.” [“Today’s Zaman”]
The sum of this initiative is now on show on all five floors (app 1000 sq.m floor space) of the SALT Galata building in Istanbul, the old Ottoman Bank close to Galata Bridge which spans the Golden Horn. The collection will be shown for a couple of months at the end of this year at SALT’s Ulus Galleries in Ankara.
The following text by SALT accompanied the exhibition...
“There are very few texts, no books, and no exhibition catalogues on İsmail Saray. Nor has the AND Journal of Art and Art Education (1984-1993) that Saray published with his wife and life-long collaborator Jenni Boswell-Jones, been given the historical analysis that it deserves.
SALT has been researching the context of Saray's life and practice since late 2012 with the conviction that the artist holds a canonical place for art and the cultural environment of the 1970s and early 1980s in Turkey. His works have held an international resonance with the advanced practices of the time as well as an acute sense of place.
From England with Love, İsmail Saray is the culmination of a comprehensive, two-year research comprising an intensive archival process and an in-depth collaboration with the artist. This long-overdue survey began with the process of assembling and securing the complete archive of the artist, as well as unearthing various artworks kept by Saray's fellow artists. In collaboration with Saray, SALT has reproduced several lost works and assembled an archive of materials related to his practice. Interviews with artists, collaborators, as well as friends' and students' of Saray have been conducted in an attempt to shape an oral history for further research.
The first phase of the research will be introduced in this exhibition, Saray's first in Turkey in more than 20 years, installed throughout SALT Galata. The main exhibition space on floor -1 will host sketches, photographic and video documentation of installations, correspondence, components left from work exhibited abroad, 8mm films the artist made in the early 1970s, as well as some recent "quotations" taken from older works. On the second and third floors, visitors will encounter original works from the 1980s and full re-creations of some of his installations; an untitled student work from 1970 in the Open Archive and Saray's photographic self-portrait series Envoy from 1972 on the first floor. A reading space on the same floor features posters of exhibitions Saray participated in, facsimiles of artist books, as well as a compilation of newspaper reviews. His most recent works for the exhibition From Floor to Sky organized in London in 2010, are presented on the ground floor in SALT Research alongside documentary material. Audio recordings with Saray placed throughout the exhibition shed light on parts of his story left untold through the archival material.
The fully digitized İsmail Saray Archive will be made accessible to the public through SALT Research to coincide with the opening of the exhibition and an e-publication will follow.
The title of the exhibition is taken from Saray's installation exhibited at 8 Sanatçı 8 İş: B Sergisi [8 Artists 8 Works: B Exhibition] (Atatürk Cultural Center, 1990-1991). This invocation of the ending of a letter, signed by the artist, emphasizes the idea of distance in Saray's practice as also evidenced in his correspondence, as well as archival material shown in the exhibition.
From England with Love, İsmail Saray will be on view at SALT Ulus in Ankara, November 18, 2014 - January 10, 2015.
This project was realized by Duygu Demir and Sezin Romi from SALT Research and Programs with the assistance of Özge Karagöz and Ayşe Köklü. Graphic design by Ahmet Öktem.