THE BOILER @
191 N 14th St
Brooklyn, NY 11249
1 MAY – 6 JUNE 2021
For much of humanity, Covid-19 shut the party down in the spring of 2020. But pandemics have not always been For much of
humanity, Covid-19 shut the party down in the spring of 2020. But pandemics have not always been killjoys. The Black Death in
the fourteenth century inspired the genre of danse macabre, in which skeletal allegories of death shimmy with a whole core
sample of the social strata. These images were understood as a rebuke of vanity, an animated memento mori in which the
presence of death erased class barriers and made all people equal revelers in an ecstatic mania of doom. But as we who have
been lucky enough or socially privileged enough to have survived this most recent plague must recognize, death does not visit
the rich and the poor equally. Death does not dance with White Americans the way death dances with Black Americans, with
Latinx Americans, with Indigenous Americans, with Asian Americans. We are not all at the same party.
Baris Gokturk’s All Saints (2021) is a monument to the energetic release of street dancing in a time when the stakes of bodies in
the street may never have felt higher. Composed of collaged images of dancers from 2020 block parties around New York City,
the Turkish-born artist’s home for the past twenty years, the piece is dense with figures in motion. Some are masked and some
are unmasked, all are impossibly close together, even overlapping. When was the last time we were close together like that? In
the summer of 2020, when New York was the global epicenter of Covid-19, in spite of the threat of contagion, in spite of fears
of overwhelming the healthcare system, of infecting and possibly killing loved ones or neighbors, in spite of all this people took
their single, precious, vulnerable bodies into the streets and brought them dangerously near to other bodies in protest because
the inequity of death was intolerable. If Breonna Taylor could be shot in her bed by invading police, if Ahmaud Arbery could be
run down, if a police officer could kneel for nine minutes on George Floyd’s neck as he begged for air, death – and those who
wield death in the name of the state – had to be confronted in the street.
At twenty-eight feet in length, All Saints is simultaneously a barricade and a fragile veil. Strips of color composed of image
transfers, ink, acrylic, pills of paper pulp and other debris are woven into an industrial netting and hoisted into the air where
they buckle and sag. The size is imposing, but the tattered image is also thin, nearly transparent in places, like a broken panel
of stained glass in a cathedral. Amidst the dancers, fireflies float like embers. As in Gokturk’s Fires_Riot series, which tracks
moments of social combustion at protests from Gezi to Baltimore, All Saints poses the political challenge of bodies gathered in
public space. Like the blossoming fireworks that marked the summer of 2020 in urban spaces across America, these works
ambiguously signal violence, resistance, or festivity.
The Feast of All Saints is a Christian holy day from which celebrations such as Halloween and Día de Muertos derive,
commemorating the saints and martyrs who are too numerous to name, including those whose names are unknown. We are still
reciting the names of dead but the lists grow too long: Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, Ma’Kiah Bryant. Yet even when reeling
from incalculable loss, a holiday is a celebration, an excuse to lose control in socially-sanctioned circumstances and good
company, like some funerals. The figures in All Saints are joyful, but the joy is more incendiary than innocent. Like pressure or
heat applied to a closed system, they are a bomb.
ELM FOUNDATION is pleased to present ALL SAINTS, an exhibition by Baris Gokturk, inaugurating the monumental work of the
same title Gokturk created specifically for The Boiler. This exhibition was made possible with the generous support of SAHA
Istanbul and Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant, in New York.
Baris Gokturk was born in Ankara, Turkey. He was recently an ApexArt fellow in Seoul, artist-in-residence at YADDO, and a
participant in SOMA Mexico as well as Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Recent museum exhibitions include Pera
Museum in Istanbul and SECCA in Winston-Salem, NC. He recently completed a mural for Columbia University’s Butler Library
and a commission by the Public Art Fund as part of Art on the Grid. He finished a residency at LMCC Governors Island in 2020 ,
and his debut solo show in New York could be seen at Helena Anrather Gallery in November 2020. Gokturk is currently working
on upcoming projects in New York, Venice, and Eskisehir, Turkey. The artist lives and works in Brooklyn.
OPENING: Saturday, May 1, 12PM-11PM
OPENING RECEPTION FOR THE ARTIST: Saturday, May 1, 7PM
GALLERY HOURS: Tuesday-Sunday 1-6pm. The gallery is open late on Wednesday evenings, until 10pm. Closed on Mondays.