Serhat Köksal ( 2/5BZ ) Interview: An Example in Cultural Pipeline Dialogue – 9.2009
Under the ever stiffening wind of neoottomans.biz, Bidoun, in its last issue, has hooked up with wider distribution channels in Turkey, in an effort to increase its sales. In fact, in this last issue, it becomes more apparent that Bidoun is “filling the gaping hole in the arts and culture coverage of the Middle East and its Diaspora” through pandering to the needs of capital spooning with oil money, co-opting local panderers and new commodities, and turning the arts and culture of the Middle East into a mere decorative element with local flavors for the capital. Contempoorary art’s these dialogue fetishist, smart and intellectual panderers, are turning the nouveau-riche, wanna-be neo-ottomans in commerce, and their Middle Eastern counterparts, as well as the well-educated new minds into willing customers for the new operations of capital in the region. They asked him well-put questions, and he has answered. At least, he is publishing them here.
Bidoun, son sayısıyla, giderek daha kuvvetli esen neo-ottomanız.biz rüzgarını arkasına alıp, Türkiye’de de dört koldan dağıtıma girerek, satışını arttırmaya çalışıyor. Zaten, bu son sayıda, “Ortadoğu ve diyasporasının kültür ve sanatı konusunda varolan yayın boşluğu”nu, petrol parasıyla oynaşan sermayenin, kültür-sanat piyasasında ‘satıcı’lığını yaparak doldurduğunu, kendi yerel ‘satış temsilcileri’ ve ‘mallar’ını yetiştirme yetkisini elinde tuttuğunu, Ortadoğu kültür ve sanatını sermayenin yerelle tadlandırılmış dekoratif unsuru yapmak için çalıştığını da daha açık bir şekilde ilan etti. Sadece cebi yeni para görmüş , ticari olarak neo-ottomanlığa özenenleri ve onların Ortadoğu’daki muadillerini değil, Ortadoğu’nun mürekkep yalamış yeni neslini de sermayenin bu coğrafyadaki yeni operasyonları için müşterileştiren zeki ve entellektüel ve diyalog fetişisti gümcel sanat ‘satıcı’ları, ona aklı başında sorular sordular, o da cevapladı. En azından burada da yayınladı .
|Sent:||Thu 9/03/09 10:55 AM|
Dear Serhat Koksal,
I'm an editor @ Bidoun and I was hoping to check in with you to get an update on your current projects-- what's next for Urban Jealousy,what's up with 2/5BZ, what's going on (I hear?) this month in conjunction or sideways to the Istanbul Biennial. And the like.Perhaps with an eye toward doing a Work In Progress in the magazine.Let me know, and/or let me know a good time to talk on Skype? Thanks! Best, Mike Vazquez .........http://www.2-5bz.com........................................................ Subject: Re: Bidoun...
|Sent:||Sun 9/06/09 12:30 AM|
Hi Serhat. Mike forwarded me your email; I'm a contributing editor at Bidoun, and I'll be writing something about your work and the Begenal project for the next issue. Exciting to hear about Begenal, the continuation of the Roaming Biennial, and the rest! I'd like to ask you some questions about yourself and your work, if you don't mind. ............http://www.myspace.com/2serhat5bz.........................................................
Subject: A few questions…
Date: Mon, 14 Sep 2009 21:56:15 -0400
I had a couple of questions on redirect, as it were, which I wanted to put to you.
M.V. One is: what’s 2/5BZ? I mean, what does it signify? When did you start using it? Has the meaning changed over time? Was there a particular train of inspiration or thinking that led you to choose that handle?
S.K. 2/5BZ is something that I had scribbled on a school note-pad in the 1980’s. Many years later on I noticed it as I was paging the pad through and It has become the name of this project. I designed the logo in 1991 . I finished my first work in 1982, named “Men playing Ping Pong and Ajda Pekkan vs. Supertrashmen” which was a cartoon made on a notepad.
At the beginning, my aim was to create a Project with a name, to be recognized on stickers rather than to be pronounced. At that moment there was no other meaning of 2/5BZ, not more than a name given to this Project. Within time, this name contained the meaning and purpose of my Works. Sometimes, it gained different meanings, depending on people with different pronounciations.
M.V. Two is: did you know John Peel when he came to Turkey? Know who he was, I mean? How plugged in, if at all, were you to underground musical trends abroad? I ask in part because it’s interesting to think about _why_ you were John Peel’s favorite Turkish band. Do you have a sense of why that was? What did he like about your music, and what was your conversation with him like?
S.K. In 1994 John Peel asked for an Interview with 2/5 BZ for the BBC World Service, during a visit in Istanbul.
At that time I had no idea about who he was. I heard about an album of Napalm Death’s Peel Sessions album but I did not knew what it was ,
I did not know who John Peel actually was.. During the Interview he asked some questions about the social situation of the territory I was living, in order to understand the relation between. For example, he tried to define the relation I had created between politician’s speeches and dialogues of 70’s Turkish movies which had interfered into the Society’s subconscience. He understood that it was not just a funny collage, but was some kind of resistance, supported with visuals and material created by myself and told in a different language. Peel also introduced the fanzine ( Gozel Zine) which contained lots of Information, interviews with people who worked hardly in the Turkish cinema Industry (synchronization, effects, visuals…etc) compiled all by myself, in his Radio-show. I was the first who interviewed these persons who were not known by name in Turkey at that time.
also John Peel announced my Peel Session when he broadcast 2/5BZ Peel Session ; ”…and that track is from one of my favourites sessions of the recent past ,from 2/5 BZ from Istanbul.No Touristik No Exotic it is called..”John Peel BBC Radio1 2004
M.V. I mean? How plugged in, if at all, were you to underground musical trends abroad?
S.K. A major motive of reaching and handling the recordings of this special music of the 80’s was that giant flea market located in a disctrict called Topkapi. There were lots of tapes & records of tapes and films, forgotten in time, available, together with films and music tapes recorded abroad especially for Turkish people living in Europe (mostly Germany). Unfortunately, this market place does not exist anymore.
M.V. I am thinking, for example, that the period in which you were making collaged sound works on a– what were you using, a 4-track? 8-track? —
S.K. I used a 4-track and some tape loops in the late 80’s and early 90’s. But when I was a child, around 9 or 10, I had two portable tape players in which I played some different material at the same time and tried to record the sounds on a third tape recorder, aiming to create a totally different music. I found this method on my own by experimenting a lot.
M.V….– is basically the Golden Age of DIY recording and the cassette underground. And that Peel was into a lot of the cassette culture stuff, including Sebadoh, a band I was friends with at about this time. Were you aware of punk/DIY stuff, and/or of 4-track crypto-folk collage stuff, being produced in the States?
S.K. I would consider myself close to DIY in terms of approach and ethics. In the beginning of the 90’s, we had some gigs with some Turkish Punk and Hard-core bands. Despite different musical genres, we had something in common with the punk scene concerning our language we did use. But eventually, I thing that I make some kind of music that is not near either to Punk or Industrial. It is something different. It contains a large scale of genres, from arabesk to ancient Anatolian folk, together with Industrial, avant-garde or pop sounds, sometimes performed live on improvisation or programmed before; summarized musical compulsive stuff.
M.V.Or, alternately, had you gotten into industrial music at some point? What bands or musicians were crucial to your development as a sound artist?
S.K. As far as I can understand, you expect from met o give an Internationally known name which I am influenced by. If yes, I have to name lots of people of no International prominence. If I have to name any, it would be probably Tim Hodgkinson. But I first met him and his music in 1999.Further, I was liked and inspired by Gökçen Kaynatan, Bülent Arel (he made music in the 50’s), both turkish electronic-psy-musicians ans sound artists from the 50s and 60’s
Abdurrahman Palay is most important dubbing voice artist in Turkey since 1950 ‘s . also we did some new recordings together for my 2/5BZ project in 90 ‘s .also i used this sounds in my Peel Sessions tracks .
I was also impressed by sound technicians and effects designers of the Turkish pop cinema of the 60’s-70’s, who usually applied musical score combinations to these films, from traditional Turkish music to Stockhousen-style avantgarde tunes by using cut-up techniques.I still believe that these people who affected my subconscience when I was a child were highly creative. some names : Tuncer Aydinoglu ,Yorgo Ilidais ,Suudi Yilmaz,..
M.V. Another question– did you have paralell interest in Turkish psych from the 70s, commensurate with your interest in Turkish cinema?
S.K. Yes, I did.
M.V. Anf finally– was there a particular political agenda that you have, or had, or that has changed, in the context of Turkey? Much of your work in this decade seems to relate to the art world and globalization, but I wonder, for example, how your deployment of 1970s cultural bits signified in the late, well-post-coup, Turkish 1980s and early 1990s.
Thanks! And best to you. Mike
S.K. Yes, my works are mostly related to the Situation in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. In the 70’s cultural attractions accelerated but after the coup in 1980, everything collapsed. After the blockage by the government, we had discovered different material again, and converted it. We can consider it a certain reply in terms of a spitting or puking effect.
In the 2000’s, I try to create some works, pointing on the possibility of the same games which had been played in the past in Turkey, but now under global circumstances and cultural cheating. No need to mention that this time, this games will not hit Turkey only!
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 2009 11:04:07 -0400
Subject: Re: Bidoun…
Great, thanks so much! Sorry to be so demanding, but I’m happy we’re able to publish something about your work. I’ll let you know if I have any more questions. Otherwise, I’ll keep you updated, and notify you when the magazine is out, and send you some copies.
A.P. First, could you give me a clear sense of what the schedule is the for
the Roaming Biennial in the near future, where it will be, what form
it will take, who will be involved, etc.?
S.K. Last, we finished our 3rd station in Belgrade. now we re talking with people from Lebanon but its moving slow..but now i don’t know about time…when ?
A.P. Since I don’t know much about your personal history beyond what a few people have told me, could you tell me how you started making this kind of work?
I finished my first work in 1982, named “Men playing Ping Pong and Ajda Pekkan vs. Supertrashmen” which was a cartoon made on a notepad.
With the establishment of private TV channels in the early 90’s, the whole society was exposed to massive bombardment of all elements of popular culture.
In addition, political discussions on TV were broadcasted so often and in a very crucial way durig the same period. In the late 80’s I already had started ,to collect material of 70’s films and music which belonged to the age of my childhod and were real rarities in the flea market due to some political and social circumstances. I started to mix these media with contemporary material mentioned above and edited, crashed, converted and reproduced them with basic equipment and simple techniques available in that time. The late 80’s ad early 90’s were also the period when I started to believe and commit myself on my work.
A.P. When you were younger, were there other people in
Istanbul who were experimenting with mixing this kind of cultural
detritus—folk and pop sounds, commercial films and industrial music,
reductive images of Turkey and the East with abrasive, even punk,
sounds that called attention to the sinister elements of those images?
S.K. The geographical area which I live in has a very old and strong oppositive humour tradition. Aziz Nesin is one of my Inspirative persons in this genre. Aziz Nesin is the milestone of modern and humourus Turkish literature.
As fas as I know, there wasn’t anybody else who made artwork consisting of audio, video containing folk&pop elements, political statements, commercials and further to a large scale of music from improvised to electronic music.
A.P. Or were you influenced by other musicians and artists outside of
Turkey whose work you encountered?
S.K. I shared the stage with “Tape Beatles” in 2006. When I saw them on stage performing live, I felt happy to see other people working on somehow similar works. This land has been invaded by many Emperors and civilizations in history. This led to lots of cultural layers. Besides, technology reached this land much later, so the society faced some problems with usign and applying technology into daily life. The solution was found by adapting and/or converting the application purpose of technology.
These two aspects may have affected me in some way and resulted in puking my impressions about all these. Within time, I had the chance to perform in 90 cities of 17 different countries.
A.P. I’m curious about your relationship to your source material. Are you a
voracious collector of local films and other media? Much of your work
sounds and looks like the product of someone very meticulously and
purposefully building an archive and then putting it into action,
S.K. You are right to some extent, however I believe also in coincidence.
I experienced both ways; all materials flew towards me in coincidence, or I ordered or set up them in a definite line. Despite feeling a bit sceptic I am mostly happy with that situation. Therefore, “voracious” is not true for all situations, on the other hand, yes, I spent some effort to find some films about twenty years ago.
A.P. if you will. I’m interested in your collecting instincts or habits and
how they play into the work you make, and whether or not you consider
yourself an archivist to some degree, maintaining these lost images
and sounds and then deploying them strategically….
S.K. This is absolutely true.
A.P. Were there particular films or records that caught your attention as you started
making this kind of work? Do you see now, in retrospect, a way of
approaching these things, and an approach to making music, that you
had some hand in starting?
S.K. Talking about the relation between video and sound, I improved my skills of reproducing the material and ended up editing video and sound live and spontaneously on stage. What excites me is the situation of the reminniscence to filmmakers, who edit on their desks in studio; I, on the other hand edit live on stage. If the relation of video and sound improves hypnotically, the humourous and political statements which I use transmit to the audience the same hypnotical way. This is what I aim. But of course, sometimes undescriptional things which are out of my control and are not interferable can happen
A.P. Could you tell me the story of John Peel encountering your music and
then playing it? How did that happen, and what impact did it have?
S.K. In 1994 John Peel asked for an Interview with 2/5 BZ for the BBC World Service, during a visit in Istanbul. At that time I had no idea about who he was. I heard about an album of Napalm Death’s Peel Sessions albm but I did not knew what it was. When we met, he was interested not only in my music, but also showed Interest to my photocopy zines, posters,stickers..etc. which was very surprising because very few people showed same Interest to all the works of me at that time. Back in the UK he commented on this Interview as ” Of all the music I heard in Turkey, I liked 2/5 BZ the best ” . Afterwards, he played my works in his Radio shows many times during the following years.One day, I received a letter written with a type-writer by himself, asking to make a Peel Session. Since I believed in his sincerity,
I replied by using my most creative and special works. Until now, two different Peel Sessions have been broadcasted. Later on, I released them in 12 inch vinyl.
A.P. It seems that recently you’ve been working in a more international
context, with a radio show in Berlin and the Roaming Biennial. Do you
think of the work you’re making as existing on a less local then
international level now ?
S.K. NO Touristik NO Egzotik became one of my concepts in 2000 and 2001. I wanted to criticize humorously the people who evaluate you not according to the quality of your work but as an exotic object that comes from Istanbul or any other similiar place .
I performed them in the first European tour of 2/5BZ which included 6 countries and 19 cities 2001.
These are the visual/audio performances that I aimed to break. Demolish these exotic images and discourses in a humorous way.
Eventually, in 2006, I started my works based on the relations between this Issue and Global Economy. My motives for ceating these works were; the similar statements and approach of the Ministries related to Economic affairs, Global companies, Big cultural events, all of them using standard artificial phrases in their publishings, web sites, interviews..etc like as “dialogue”, “bridge”, supposed to be used for any branding of city, product…etc
to be promoted and also to be used for the Integration to the Global Economic system. Nowadays, these phrases are are commonly used also in cultural environments, almost as a cliche. Later on, I released my performance named “No Cultural Pipeline No Energy Dialogue” which can be described as a study of the relation between energy pipelines and Cultural events and the approach to establish a dialogue & bridge between them.
A.P . It seems that your work has always been very
much about how the interactions between cultures produce certain
representations of those cultures at home, which are then broadcast to the world….
S.K. Yes, but all these interactions started to happened in the 2000’s.
That means I do not deal with the impact at home, as explained above.
Since last year, I have been working on TV commercials aiming to brand some certain cities and showing examples of gentrification. These works are named “Gentrifisuals”.. I performed it in Istanbul first, after that came Berlin and Belgrad..
I organize audio visual performances called Gözel Geceler once a mounth in
Istanbul with the participation of other artists and I have a radio programme
which is broadcasted once a week
A.P. Lately you’ve been working a lot on the concept of the biennial, and the fallacies of cultural exchange that’s based around the model of a
temporary international marketplace where various nations can
represent themselves to each other and then purchase those
representations. Is that accurate? What got you started thinking about
the biennial model and wanting to create an alternative to (or parody
S.K: your text is right .and ;
I do not take the biennal and similar big cultural events seriously becuase I believe that this kind of big cultural events are related to major global economical decisions and plans and are existing only as s decoration or a shopwindow. With a DIY approach we established the free and independent “roaming biennal tehran” in order to avoid being a part of this shop window.
With the participation of more than 600 artists from all around the world, it was a big “Do It Yourself ” organisation.These organisations in Istanbul, Berlin and Belgrad has been supported by friends who made these Biennals happen and which I prevented any kind of support offered by global companies and Institutions.
this BEGENAL project including homour and politics about culture industry . also we prepared music choir about it and we will play concert ( videos , performance , theatre ,..) in 12 sept. and 25 sept. on stage in Istanbul .http://www.myspace.com/begenal you listen some sounds and see some images.
Subject: Re: Bidoun…
Date: Fri, 25 Dec 2009 02:00:00 -0500
Hey Serhat, I’m leaving the country in the morning but will have someone at Bidoun send it as soon as possible. Don’t worry about the “Spam Artist” title: it’s just a jokey headline, referring to a point in the article when I discuss your work in relation to the aesthetic of Spam (i.e. junk mail). I promise you the article is 100% positive. We think your work is phenomenal! And I was happy to have the chance to write about it.
Subject: urgent image query
Date: Mon, 19 Oct 2009 11:42:59 -0400
Dear Serhat, the images you sent for our Bidoun WIP on you are
tiny … we are about to go to print … any chance of high res? or is
this the nature of the beat?
Yours, Negar Azimi