Across the Slope | 2008 | Modified Fiat 131 and constructed floor | Installation view at SALT Beyoglu, Istanbul (2011) | Barcelona collection of Vehbi Koç Foundation, Istanbul, TR
Across the Slope
Across the Slope, originally shown in 2008 at Centre d’Art Santa Mònica in Barcelona, consists of a modified Fiat 131 Mirafiori balanced precariously across a slope that takes over the floor of the gallery space.
The Fiat 131 Mirafiori was the dream car of the 1970s middle class in Turkey. In addition to domestic production, the 131 was manufactured in Turkey’s Tofas factory as Murat 131, in Spain as Seat 131 and in Soviet Russia as Lada. It was also assembled in Southeast Asia, South America and North Africa. While Mirafiori’s design and engine were imported to these foreign markets, its assembly was local. The classic middle class car of its era, today Mirafiori remains a symbol of modernization, and an early example of a developing culture around custom-made cars. Ögüt’s version of the 131, like the American automobiles of the 1950s, is elongated beyond the needs of luxury.
In the 1960s, Turkish engineers produced the Devrim [Revolution], a prototype hand-made car. Ögüt first explored the Devrim in Today in History (2007), a series of stories and illustrations based on Turkish newspaper texts. Ögüt’s interest in the Devrim stemmed from the historic failure of its inaugural test-drive, the embarrassing result of an empty gas tank. Like the Devrim project, Across the Slope references the competitive spirit of national pride projects, as well as the invisible obstructions that middle class aspirations stumbled upon. It provides an alternative vantage point from which to deconstruct Turkish history.
Across the Slope can also be viewed as an extension of Ögüt’sGround Control (2008), featured in the 5th Berlin Biennial, in which he covered a 400 sq. m. exhibition space with asphalt. Creating a chain of associations - including the demand for gas, asphalt’s origins in Southeastern Turkey, the country’s position as a cheap production base for the rest of the world, the dependency inherent to Turkey’s industrialization, the development of the autobahn, tire production and the assemblage industry - Ögüt’s work shapes a dialogue that touches on political, as well as economic issues.
Across the Slope | 2008 | Modified Fiat 131 and constructed floor | Installation view at the Centre d'Art Santa MòniCA | Barcelona collection of Vehbi Koç Foundation, Istanbul, TR
Installation view at SALT Beyoglu, Istanbul (2011)