Exhibition

18th Contemporary Istanbul

Exhibition
18th Contemporary Istanbul

Maybe it is a Joke

Artists: Ardan Özmenoğlu – Fırat Engin 

Curator: Hasan Bülent Kahraman

Milan Kundera’s debut novel is titled The Joke. It was written during a time when Central Europe was undergoing the decline of a bureaucratic regime. Kundera went into exile, and his long life came to an end in July 2023.

Throughout his life, he embraced jokes, satire, humor, ridicule, -everything that entails playful teasing. All of his novels were built upon these elements. However, he wasn’t primarily a humorist. His interest lay in the humor that resides within vain seriousness, ambition, the pursuit of status, blind faith, and passion.

Any situation and anyone could appear ridiculous when deeply entangled in the mundane, the thirst for power, anger, or resentment.

Furthermore, life is deserving of satire. That’s why he developed a fondness for Rabelais. It was for the same reason that we have embraced figures like Nasreddin Hoca, Bektashi, Bekri Mustafa, Eşref, Neyzen Tevfik.

What is the point of life if not to find joy in it?

Laughter is essentially synonymous with enjoying life. We laugh when we experience pleasure. Desire and pleasure were prominent in Kundera’s work. We are not referring to hedonism. Yet, desire and pleasure also fuel life. Lacan is behind the door.

We inhabit in a world that’s at odds with itself, where life is burdened by crises, wars, inequalities, and discrimination. The idiocy of consumerism lurks around the corner, and we often fail to realize that we are both consumers and we are consuming ourselves when we consume.

Flaubert discovered idiocy. Idiocy begins where joke ends up.

The world and life present numerous distractions that hinder us from laughing and making jokes.

But we need jokes: This is not a pipe...

And suddenly, enter question: Could life be one big joke?

Ardan Özmenoğlu and Fırat Engin salute Kundera.

In other words... This is a pipe, and perhaps This is not a Joke

Hasan Bülent Kahraman


Ardan Özmenoğlu

1. “Yet, it is widely acknowledged that the seed of unhappiness resides at the core of happiness”, 2023 

Mirror, colored neon, plexiglass, aluminum, 120 x 120 x 15 cm

2. “Who am I truly?” 2023

Gold-foiled mirror, yellow neon light, plexiglass, 60 x 70 x 10 cm

3. “My humor lacked profound seriousness: Nonetheless, contemporary joy cannot withstand sarcasm or buffoonery, 2023

Daylight neon, mirror, plexiglass, 70 x 60 x 10 cm

4. “I am a person with many faces”, 2023

Orange neon light, magnifier mirror, plexiglass, 68 x 64 x 20 cm

5. “Your eyes can deceive no one but yourself”, 2023

Laughing mirror, green neon light, plexiglass, 120 x 70 x 17 cm

6. “What if you are deceived?”, 2023

Laughing mirror, white neon light, plexiglass, 120 x 70 x 17 cm

7. “Leaving all behind”, 2023

Laughing mirror, purple neon light, plexiglass, 120 x 70 x 17 cm

8. “I wasn’t too late to realize that there existed a fine gap between my true personality, societal expectations, and my aspirations”, 2023

Broken mirrors, plexiglass, color neon light, 72 x 56 x 15 cm

9. “What people desire most is often the unattainable”, 2023

Mirror, red neon, plexiglass, 70 x 120 x 10 cm


Fırat Engin


1. «OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR”

Name: Objects In Mirror Are

Closer Than They Appear

Size: 295 cm X 50 cm

Material: Trailer mirror, Neon

Year: 2023

2. «EMPOWER PEOPLE TO FOSTER COMMUNITIES AND BRING DIFFERENT WORLDS CLOSER »

3. «IGNITE YOUR INNER GLAMOUR »

4. «THE FUTURE EMBODIES SECRECY »

5. «BALANCE REPUTATION JUSTICE»

Name: Comedian

Size: 73,5 cm X 124 cm (4 adet)

Material: Laughing Mirror, Neon, MDF

Year: 2023

6. «NEED A HAND??»

Name: Need a Hand?

Size: 14 cm X 68 cm / mirror: 80 cm(R)

10 cm x 12,5 cm / mirror: 20 cm(R)

11,5 cm x 65 cm / mirror: 45 cm(R)

Material: Magnifying Mirror, Neon

Year: 2023


28 September - 1 October 2023

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