Ahmet Öğüt

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Across the Slope

Modified Fiat 131 and constructed floor
Installation view at Salt Beyoglu, Istanbul
Ahmet Öğüt’s Across the Slope. Originally shown in 2008 at Centre d’Art Santa Mònica in Barcelona, is an installation 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 Tofaş 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. Öğüt’s version of the 131, like the American automobiles of the 1950s, is elongated beyond the needs of luxury.

Is this car on the slope just a modified Murat 131, or is it a middle class dream, suspended in mid-air The helplessness of the working class eluded to in Öğüt’s Across the Slope can also be perceived in the composite photograph series Hip Activities-Escorts (2003-2005) by Aydan Murtezaoğlu. The car in Murtezaoğlu’s photographs is a 1968 Opel Rekord, manufactured the year of worldwide protests that represented the first great disappointment of the middle class after World War II.