Hello. Half is Miami/New York. Half is male/female. Half is art/design. Half is here/there. Half is big/small. You are Half. We are Half. Thank you.
Index 04 / 09 Lal Bahçecioğlu
12 / 18 Marvin Touré
20 / 28 Zac Negron
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Lal Bahçecioğlu is a Turkish architect-turned-curator who is currently completing her Master’s at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in NYC. In the following text, she talks about her internal connection with a space she frequently use to pass in Istanbul and the feelings it brings up for her.
Mimralıktan küratörlüğe geçiş yapan ve şu anda New York’ta School of Visual Arts’ta “Küratöryal Uygulama” alanında yüksek lisans eğitimi gören Lal Bahçecioğlu aşağıdaki metinde Istanbul’da sıkça ziyaret ettiği Mısır Apartmanı’na olan bağından ve alanın kendisinde uyandırdığı hislerden bahsediyor
wake up at 8 am take the bus transfer to the subway reach the street level walk in zig-zags in order to pass the tourists on the street get a coffee arrive to M覺s覺r Apartment, where I work arrive late again; no time to wait for the elevator to reach the third floor walk up the marble stairs, that have been used for over a hundred years wonder what those stairs have experience
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This was my routine for nine months. It is normally hard for me to get impressed by anything. However, I don’t know why I was so touched every morning I walk by this apartment. Since I’m not a romantic person, I wanted to get rid of my idealistic thoughts about the history of the apartment and focus on my work.
I researched its history. Here it goes:
Translated to English, Mısır Apartment actually means Egypt Apartment. To be honest, I found it weird because this building has the characteristics of typical western Art Nouveau architecture, but a totally opposite name.
The apartment was commissioned by Khedive of Egypt Abbas II as a winter residence and built in 1910 by Ottoman Armenian architect Hovsep Aznavur. After Khedive of Egypt Abbas II died in 1934, the heritors started to rent the residence floor by floor. Since then it has been home to crucial members of the Turkish literary scene. For example Mehmet Akif Ersoy, who is the author of the Turkish National Anthem, lived there for 6 months.
And what about now? Now this apartment is housing many of the city’s leading art galleries. Every single part of the apartment, including the air in it, was and is covered with art. No wonder why I resonate myself with it.
8’de uyanıyorum otobüse bini yorum metroya geçiyorum sokağa ulaşıyorum zikzak yaparak turistleri geçiyorum yolda bir kahve alıyorum çalıştığım binaya, Mısır Apartmanı’na ulaşıyorum yine geç kalıyorum, asansörü bekleyemiyorum uzun yıllar kullanılmaktan aşınmış mermer merdivenleri çıkıyorum bu merdivenlerin neler görüp geçirdiklerini merak ediyorum.
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Bu benim dokuz aylık rutinimdi. Birşeylerden genelde bu kadar kolay etkilenemiyorum. Buna rağmen neden her seferinde bu merdivenlerden bu kadar etkilendiğimi anlayabilmiş değildim. Romantik biri olmadığım için bu duruma bir son vermek üzere binayi araştırmaya karar verdim. Edindiğim bilgiler ise şöyle:
Bina Art Nouveau tarzında olup batıyı çağrıştırmasına rağmen ismi tam tersini anımsatıyor aslında.
Mısır Apartmanı II. Abbas Hilmi Paşa tarafindan Ermeni asılı mimar Hosep Aznavuryan’a 1910 yılında yaptırılmış. II. Abbas Hilmi Paşa 1934’te öldükten sonra varisleri binayi kat kat kiralamaya başlamışlar. O günden bu yana Mehmet Akif Ersoy da dahil olmak üzere Türk edebiyanin bir çok önemli isimi bu binada yaşamış.
Peki ya şimdi? Günümüzde Mısır Apartmanı şehrin önde gelen çağdaş sanat galerilerini ağırlamakta. Apartmanın her köşesı (havası dahil) sanatla kaplanmış. Neden etkilendiğim şimdi anlaşıldı.
Marvin Touré, “1982”, 2014, digital print, Variable Dimensions
Marvin TourĂŠ is a first generation Ivorian-American who confronts race and identity in his work. In a recent interview, he discusses his evolution as an artist and the importance of communication through his art.
With so many art scenes around the world, why did you pick NYC to come and study? Well, being a first generation American afforded me a unique lens through which to view the black experience in the United States. This perspective, coupled with spending my formative years in Georgia, always pushed me to look for a more culturally diverse environment. When I decided I wanted to focus my attention on creating art, New York seemed to mirror the cultural complexity I see in myself. In being such a "world city" I felt that it would be a great experience to see how cultural synthesis manifests itself in an American construct. How have you seen your work evolve since you've started your MFA? I think more than anything I'm realizing that art making for me is about communication. Like good jazz or great sex, it's the unmediated give-and-take between entities. The improvisation and nonverbal communication can create something powerful. I have learned to trust that process, letting the ideas or materials speak to me and tell me what they want to be. I think the conceptual growth in terms of trusting this conversation has been where the real evolution has taken place.
These works (currently in progress) address how my relationship with labels and words are mediated through history and life experiences. How can certain formative events in one's life change a personâ€™s perception of everyday words? From the first time learning about slavery in grade school to the first time I heard a group of West Africans speak negatively about Black Americans, these situations afforded me a particular vantage point through which to analyze "blackness." Definitions examined through word association, words defined by perceived reality.
Is it a communication of ideas, or more of a communication of what you want to say to the world, manifested in the product or artwork? I think it's a communication of perception, perceived realities, it’s me communicating my sight and giving u a different way of looking at your environment.
What are you currently reading? Books: -"Who's afraid of post-blackness? What it means to be black now" by Touré -"Black Noise: rap music and Black culture in contemporary America" by Tricia Rose Articles: -"Dispersion" by Seth Price -"Ruffneck Constructivism" by Kara Walker Any relation to Touré? HAHAHA... No, not at all. My last name is his first name. Mere coincidence.
As a further examination into sneaker culture and pattern making, I let my relationship to certain shoes (that rose to prominence within hip hop culture) become the conceptual catalyst for various explorations. In these pieces I'm analyzing the Nike Air Force-1 and how perceived status and this idea of keeping these shoes immaculately white became an obsession. (1982)pg 12
You're delving into some pretty cool stuff. How do you feel as a first generation Ivorian-American upon reading these texts? Are they affirming/negating ideas of black identity? Honestly, it has reaffirmed this notion I've had that there is no one "right" way to be black. I think that we often times focus on our differences in a negative light which causes division within the black community. I think that this leads to a fear that anything outside the normal will in some way water down what it means to be black, when honestly everyone trying to fit into this mold breeds resentment. Communities are filled with people with an identity crisis in addition to the western conditioning we are subject to. Did your parents have a different future for you once they moved here? My father definitely wanted me to take advantage of the opportunities afforded to me being a citizen in this country to make a life for myself. What are you trying to achieve as an artist? I want to define my voice, and never let it be drowned out.
Edgar Ruiz, or Zac Negron, is a Miami-based artist that draws inspiration from the Surrealists. His eccentric dialogue coupled with his creative insight has allowed for Ruiz to personify different identities up his sleeves.
Name? My name is a difficult question. It depends on which side you're facing. People looking forward to my upcoming project and fans of my music would call me Curry, I suppose. Those inquiring to reflect with me upon the visual images I've created might feel inclined to call me Ege Al'bege. To my Queen, I go by as many a name as Egg, Bunz, Sleepytime Jr., or until very recently, Dino. Nonetheless, when all this is said and done, my beautiful mother and my adoring father went on to call me Edgar A. Ruiz IV.
A/S/L? I am 24, actually 28 in like 5 days. I am male, as you may know if not by the tenor of my type. Currently, [I] wonder the realms under the flag of the Glaswegians, but I believe this is going to change pretty soon. It's too expensive living in the UK and it's also really fucking cold. Which is a rather nice change but still something to bear for a Colombian who spent his entire life in Miami, under that hot, baron sun. My blood is as warm as milk, yo.
I heard somewhere that you’re living in Glasgow now. How did living in Glasgow influence your art? Hmmm that’s a bit of a toughie. I'd say that there’s a general darkness in my work that doesn't really reflect who I am as a person. So I don’t think environment has much to do with it. It's just a lazy blip on the waves of my being.
What are you doing right now? Right now as we speak, I've accepted the personal mission of completing 15 pieces (of the visual type, on any medium) in the month that we have this place is Glasgow. With all the moving around my Love and I have been doing it's been hard to sit and paint, so I'm trying to make up for lost time. I'm also going to finally attempt at something I've been wanting to do for a long time. The rise of Curry; my new music project that unlike my days with Ghetto Gestapo, will be more of a singer-songwriter type thing (if that’s even what you call it). So I'm pretty excited about that.
Are you still there? Or is Zac Negron nomadically living somewhere in space? Glasgow was the O'Malley. I say was because I am writing this from Miami where I've come to help my dad (he got into an accident a couple months back [and he is okay]). The weather is maaad cold but the people are damn nice. The architecture is of another world and the sky is always crying. I was able to show my art in a few places so that was pretty cool-nothing big but still. For the out-there, the plan is to head out to LA and see what can be done over there. How’s going back to Miami altering your perception in your art? It’s strange to “go back home” after a while of being separated and being reintroduced to your city. Well, at the moment I've actually found myself in a bit of a phase and I'm not really painting much or at all really. I've been doing some doodling but not much else. Been working on music and trying to get my work more exposure and all that beige. But I feel that places and people and phases in your life will always affect your art whether consciously or subconsciously, so I'm sure Miami this time around is doing things to me that will soon be revealed via my work. This place will always be home you know, no matter how much I really don't want to be here. It is home, and I, as well as my art, owe something to that.
What are you expecting once you get to LA? I don't really know. I just feel like if I'm going to play the game then LA is the field. I wanted to counter this one with a question of mine own:
What does studying Curatorial Practice entail? What’s that like? It just means that you’re entering the curatorial world through an academic setting. In collaboration with artists, I’m personally trying to make sure that work more as a collective rather than singular. But Curatorial Practice can mean many things. But I can’t tell you what other thinks. Ha! What was ghetto gestapo and where is it? Ghetto Gestapo is the Miami Scag-Core Duo comprising of Zac Negron and Weatherman. We made Monday nights at Churchill’s our rotten little wench and in fact played our actual first gig with Copán. If you'd like, I could direct you to the bandcamp or you can just check it out on my website. It's rather fun. As of today, the GG (Ghetto Gipetto, Grenada Gibraltar, The Going Greasies, Grit Grenade, etc.) is in a deep sleep, waiting for the day it may soon decide to open its eyes again.
Your traditional pieces found on your website seem to all have faces. Maybe not a complete face with a mouth, nose, 2 eyes kind of thing, but they usually involve facial body parts. Not the same case for your digital pieces. About the faces and non faces in my traditional and digital pieces respectively, I've actually never noticed that. So I think itâ€™s safe to say this is some milk pouring from the subconscious dimension. I do enjoy drawing faces though. I think itâ€™s one of those things that I see everywhere and in everything. Faces. The digital pieces were all made during the same era. I had really gotten into making music and wasn't drawing much and that was driving my mind or soul or something crazy. Working digitally was a way to produce in half the time so I could get back to music and calm the fundamental unrest brewing inside me.
What’s the deal with the names? You have like, 9. Haha the names. Yeah, I always get shit for that. People telling me "If you have all these names how will anyone ever find you?!" Maybe they're right. But I find it that it makes it easier to separate myself into these worlds, sort of, so that one aspect of my work doesn't have to translate or reflect another. Even being able to separate my actual self from the things I'm creating. That way anything goes. I'm not limited to being one way or the other. Besides, if I just have one persona, who’s going to keep him company when I'm not around you know?
Who is Zac Negron? What state of “Edgar” are we experiencing? Zac Negron is solely the other half of Ghetto Gestapo. When I rapped solo, it was Mogliarch, The Travesty, and now with what I'm doing musically it’s Curry. Haha, this is where it gets tricky. Hmm because it’s mostly for a Visual Art related purpose one would believe its Ege Al'Bege, but because our palaver includes everything I'd have to say it’s the over-encompassing being, Edgar A. Ruiz IV.
Half is evolving, its format is not fixed. Half is a product of BPM & MCG.
Featuring: Lal Bahçecioğlu, Marvin Touré, and Zac Negron.