With a keenly perceptive and sharp wit, Ahmet Öğüt examines everyday happenstance, modes of behaviour and informal gestures which bear witness to broader global social and political structures. Through diverse means of expression, from installation and performance to drawing, video and interventions in public space, Öğüt weaves loose narratives that meander between artistic practice and social life to provoke critical consciousness and subtle shifts in perspective.
In Once upon a time a clock-watcher during overtime hours, Öğüt’s solo exhibition at the Fondazione Giuliani, the artist moves his practice in a new direction, using an art collection as source material. Öğüt has selected works by Marina Abramovic, Giovanni Anselmo, Carl Andre, Mircea Cantor, Peter Coffin, Cyprien Gaillard, Joseph Kosuth and Sislej Xhafa from the Giuliani Collection to create “atmospheres” or interventions around each work which call attention to the characteristics of the works themselves, while also appropriating them to create multi-layered narratives with an open trajectory to generate and expand upon new meanings. Underlining these interventions is the consideration that no artwork has one single reading but is open to subjective interpretation. While paying homage to the works by these artists, Öğüt questions authorial originality and intentionality. He creates visual texts, which invite the viewer to really ponder a work of art while formulating new considerations and multiple readings.
Interspersed throughout the exhibition spaces are a body of artworks by the artist himself, several of which have been produced specifically for the show. These works underscore Öğüt’s continuing interest in time, sociological structures and mechanisms of surveillance and control. The 16mm film collage, Wikipolis, juxtaposes a scene from Metropolis, Fritz Lang’s seminal 1927 film on urban dystopia, with an image of a former nuclear bunker in Stockholm that now houses a data centre with 8,000 computer servers, two of which belong to WikiLeaks. The interactive installation, River Crossing Puzzle, transforms a traditional children’s puzzle into a playful but politically charged game, while with My Spy Desk, the exhibition’s viewers become unintentional protagonists. Ultimately, Once upon a time a clock-watcher during overtime hours invites the viewer to bear witness to and participate in an exercise of irony, nuance and layered interpretation.