THE BOILER @

ELM FOUNDATION

191 N 14th St

Brooklyn, NY 11249

ALL SAINTS

BARIS GOKTURK

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.

                                                                                                                                                            Caroline Carlsmith

 

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.

www.barisgokturk.com instagram: baris_gokturk_00

 

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.