Curated by Selen Ansen, Cevdet Erek’s solo exhibition Bergama Stereotip consists of a sounding architecture conceived for the gallery space at Arter. A continuation and a variation of the work Bergama Stereo, which was first presented in Germany at Turbinenhalle as part of the Ruhrtriennale in Bochum and then in the historical hall of Hamburger Bahnhof Museum in Berlin in 2019, this installation takes the historical Great Altar of Pergamon as point of reference and reinterprets it.
The Great Altar of Pergamon, a Hellenistic edifice also known as the Zeus Altar, was an open-air monument presumably built around the second century BC following the victory of the Pergamon Empire over the Galatians as a place where sacrificial ceremonies were considered to be held. Unearthed during 19th century’s archeological excavations conducted at the ancient city of Pergamon in the town center of Bergama located in İzmir, the altar was encircled by the Grand Frieze that depicts the battle between the underground Giants and the celestial Olympian gods. At the turn of the 20th century, the remains of the Grand Frieze were transported from their original site to Berlin, capital city of the newly born German Empire to be exhibited at the Pergamonmuseum – a museum specially constructed for the altar. The historical journey of the remains has given birth to an ongoing debate.
Featuring a portion of Bergama Stereo’s structure, Bergama Stereotip stands as a vestige in the first place: a reminder of the Great Altar and a remainder of Bergama Stereo, the work’s prior version. Cevdet Erek’s work offers an abstraction of the historical frieze made of white marble and transforms it into a wooden structure comprised of loudspeakers and loudspeaker casings. Bergama Stereotip interprets the Grand Frieze featuring the battle between the Giants and the Gods in the form of a loudspeaker frieze that projects a sound composition into the gallery space. Rather than the word “stereo” which highlights auditory symmetry, Bergama Stereotip takes the concept “stereotype” which indicates the idea of repetition and impression as its focal point. Echoing the title of the work’s previous version while at the same time differing from it, the title of the work presented in İstanbul, Bergama Stereotip, introduces the different layers of interpretation that the work embodies. By coupling the word “Bergama”, indicating provenance, with the word “stereotip”, Turkish for the Greek word “stereotype”, the work’s title itself reflects the untranslatable dimension of experience.
As in Bergama Stereo, sound, architecture and historicity play a central role in Bergama Stereotip. The audio/auditive components of Erek’s work assume the function that visual elements played in the historical altar. The journey of the sound mirrors the historical odyssey of the altar. In a manner similar to the echo – an acoustic phenomenon which returns one’s voice back with difference and delay, and makes a voice audible at a distance from its source – the travelling sound of Bergama Stereotip lets that which is remote in terms of time and space be heard. The sounds can be heard in different combinations according to the viewer’s position and remind us that every act of repetition implies an alteration which constitutes the very possibility for change and novelty. Bergama Stereotip presents itself as a site from where the present looks at the past and reconsiders it a new – as a place to be listened to, looked at, stepped on and even danced along with its rhythms.