Ali Kazma to Represent Turkey at the 55th Venice Biennale
By Miryam Rodriguez
Video artist Ali Kazma will represent Turkey at the 55th edition of the Venice Biennale in June 2013. The announcement was made on July 10 by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), the coordinators of the Turkey Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Earlier this year in April, İKSV appointed Emre Baykal as the pavilion’s curator. Baykal and Kazma have worked together previously, on “Obstructions,” Kazma’s 2010 exhibition at YKY Kâzım Taşkent Art Gallery. For that exhibition, the North Rhine-Westphalia Art Foundation awarded Kazma the Nam June Paik Award in the field of media art.
Born in Istanbul in 1971, Kazma completed his undergraduate studies at Colorado University. He then briefly studied film in London before returning to the United States to pursue his MA at the New School in New York City. After obtaining his master’s degree in the United States, he returned to Turkey in 2000 and currently lives and works in Istanbul.
Kazma’s work investigates the mechanical idiosyncrasies of various occupations, from taxidermy to studio ceramics, from candy making to the work of Turkish notaries. Deriving ideas about labor and the meaning of economy from ritualistic, repetitive daily tasks, his works raise questions about social organization and the value of human activity. His video installation O.K. (2010), comprises seven screens, together forming a rhythmic collage of the hands of a public notary in Istanbul speedily stamping papers, was created for Istanbul’s Arter – Space for Art (where Baykal is chief curator) in 2010, and is emblematic of his investigation into notions of labor and production.
In an interview with Art in America in 2010, Kazma explained: “We, especially in the art world, are always talking about the idea that the world has moved on, that the world has become a superhighway of information, that it's mobile, etc., but I wanted to remind us all that we still live in a world where such work as stamping papers exists.“
In 2001, he was granted the UNESCO Award for the Promotion of the Arts. He has exhibited his works at biennials in Istanbul (2001, 2007, 2011), Havana (2006), Lyon (2007) and São Paulo(2012), as well as at institutions as diverse as Tokyo Opera City (2001) and San Francisco Art Institute (2006). The conceptual framework for the Turkey Pavilion and Kazma’s new project is set to be announced in December this year.