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Ludicrous Letters by Serkan Özkaya


image courtesy of Serkan Özkaya

The following is a curatorial note displayed for Serkan Özkaya's installation, "Dear Sir or Madam" (1996 - ongoing), at Arter's exhibition, "Precaution" (2021-2022), curated by Emre Baykal


Dear Sir or Madam is comprised of letters that Serkan Özkaya has sent to museums and cultural institutions proposing projects that are impossible to realise and the responses he has received. No matter how absurd, illogical, or inconsequential his proposals are, they never go without reply. These institutions, which fastidiously follow bureaucratic rules, respond to Özkaya's applications, in which it is unclear how much is real and how much is a joke, with the formality, politeness and distance warranted by institutional communication. Hanging Leonardo's Mona Lisa, which gathers long lines of visitors, upside down; wrapping the Reichstag with fabric again even though only two years had passed since Christo and Jeanne-Claude's project had done the same; drawing a dollar sign over Mondrian's painting Broadway Boogie Woogie at MoMA -- even if it's covered in acetate -- immediately after Alexander Brener had been arrested for painting on a dollar sign on a Malevich painting at the Stedelijk Museum, Özkaya leaves such proposals which couldn't possibly receive positive responses to the cycle of institutional communication, collecting and archiving copies of his letters and the originals of the responses he receives alongside other visual materials concerning the projects he proposes. From this ongoing and expanding project and archive the artist's correspondence with three institutions dated 1996 and 1997 are presented.


Serkan Özkaya, "Dear Sir or Madam" (1996-ongoing), photo by flufoto


Serkan Özkaya, "Dear Sir or Madam" (1996-ongoing), photo by flufoto

Serkan Özkaya's works are usually predicated upon concepts and strategies such as originality, copying, multiplication, and appropriation, problematising what art is and how it functions. In Dear Sir or Madam, Özkaya uses similar strategies on the projects he proposes, taking them to a level so ambitious and exaggerated that they almost cannot be taken seriously; with the applications he "courageously" sends to the biggest institutions in the world, he playfully trips up the bureaucracy of culture and art and puts these stumbles on display, presenting them to the audience as the documents of "dismissed projects".