Excerpts of Sea Matter, 2022, installation

The Hauntologist,  2020, BAK, Utrecht

The Hauntologists is curated by Julia Morandeira, curator of the post-academic program BAK Fellowship for Situated Practice and convener of the Utrecht cell, in dialogue with the local conveners: Zeyno Pekünlü, Istanbul cell hosted by the Istanbul Biennial Production and Research Programme, İKSV (Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts); Gesyada Siregar and Angga Wiyaga, GUDsel hosted by GUDSKUL in Jakarta; and the 2021/2022 BAK Fellows.

Images and texts stretch from the exhibition walls to puddles of black ink that leak from the cracks of the building. Their shapes replicate other cavities in the floor, mirroring the turbulences in the physical infrastructure. Inscribed in them are fragments of dark, hushed histories from captains’ and voyagers’ diaries—chronicles of shipwreck journalism and nautical history books, all of them traces of information, matter, images, and technologies that composed the holds of the Portuguese, Spanish, British, Dutch, and Ottoman fleets. There is no doubt that these troubling pieces of history, as well as the black substance in which they float, continue to seep through the fractures of western infrastructure. Muddying the legibility of these pieces of naval history through their slow deterioration in contact with ink, the installation incites one to think: How do these texts reconfigure the ways we see through history? And conversely, how do images blur our reading of it? How do these animate and inanimate representations of ship’s cargoes and the multiple forms of death that they embody infect and dampen our imagination? Can the ink embody the ocean?

“One of the first spirits I encounter in the exhibition, Kerem Ozan Bayraktar’s Excerpts of Sea Matter, immediately engages with the alterity of the space. The outlines of black shapes, reminiscent of oil spills, mirror the cracks, splits and irregularities of BAK’s exhibition space. From the shadowy puddles of ink double-sided postcards emerge, reproductions of classical paintings on one side, textual fragments on the other. The texts conjure images of voyages at sea; the dark history of colonialism when the sea was employed by western Europeans to enslave, murder and dehumanize humans - hidden behind an unassuming still-life painting featuring a rose petal, cloves, nutmeg. In another doubling, the images are occluded, the black ink covering part or whole of the images and texts.”
Stefan Cammeraat, 11.11.2022 Metropolis M