Library of
Design, Art and Idea

Maquis Projects

19.02.2015
Vol. 7

Maquis as a kind of a bushy or shrub, Or, Maquis Projects as a contemporary art space. Here it is a hearty conversation about from art to human beings; from İzmir to London; from Alain Badaiou to inspirer Flash Atolye and the most preferably Maquis Projects which is to be apple of his eye with Thomas Keogh who is creator of Maquis Projects, academician at University of Economics, and at the same time as an independent curator, have a good reading.

What are the underlying ideas behind Maquis Projects? Can you tell us the exact meaning behind the name of Maquis? For the space I wanted to provide somewhere in Izmir where artists or interested individuals could come to create contemporary artworks whether formally or conceptually. Also providing a place that is open and accessible to an interested public where they can experience and discuss contemporary art is important. Regarding what Maquis means our statement covers that; Maquis primarily refers to the type of scrubland found in ‘Mediterranean’ climates. While primarily and originally associated with the Mediterranean region it can also be found in much of California, parts of South Africa, central coastal Chile and parts of South Asia. It prevails in the Izmir area of Turkey. During the Second World War it also became a metonym for a group of politically diverse resistant fighters in rural France. Maquis Projects offers cover and opportunities for individuals and collectives to create meaningful cultural and social material and activities. It looks to the original definition of Maquis as a sub-climate where particular climatic and topographic conditions produce specific fauna and flora. Of interest is how six different disconnected locations have independently created experiences of scale and texture that are similar yet strange to each other. The basic taxonomy of these experiences can be expanded to raise questions in relation to how the human being, within separated experiential and political conditions, can respond through their actions to relationships of order and power. Maquis Projects is based in the area of Kemeralti of Izmir. This is an urban area that shares many of the characteristics of the uninhabited natural Maquis. What was your inspirer in the process of opening a new art space to art lover in Izmir? It is disappointing, considering how populous Izmir is, that it does not have a more vibrant contemporary art scene. Apart from K2, the Port Izmir Triennial and a few small spaces such as 49A run by the artist Mehmet Dere, there is nowhere to experience good new artworks. Also the growing importance of Istanbul as an international commercial art center tends to – understandably - draw away a lot of very good people who could be so instrumental in fostering a contemporary art scene here. Considering these factors, it is difficult to imagine what a sustainable space should be like. Personally I was very inspired by Flash Atolye - a small space in Karsiyaka organized in the last two years by Firat Ertem and his wife Olivia Valentine. Here they managed to show the work of a lot of interesting artists both from Izmir and internationally. I found their attitude of ‘just do it’ to be very helpful. Maquis Projects is based in the area of Kemeralti of Izmir. Why Kemeraltı? The simple answer is because in Kemeralti I could afford to purchase a building which is large enough to be a live work space. The work part is the gallery and 2 studio spaces. This is a very practical solution to an issue of affordability that has been used by artists and gallerists in many places globally. This strategy does raise very many contentious issues that would need a whole other interview to deal with. Also it is close enough to the center of Izmir to be broadly accessible to anybody interested in visiting. And since I came to Izmir 5 years ago Kemeralti has been a favorite area of mine. It has a lot of different faces.
Which artistic activities took part in Maquis Projects until this time and what are the future exhibitions in Maquis Projects? The exhibitions at Maquis Projects to date include: ‘Eminent Domain A’ a group show of 18 international artists looking at issues of art in public and private spaces; ‘Kemeralti Sofrasi’ a street action by USA based Chilean artist Katiushka Melo Green. This was a celebration of similarity and difference in Turkish and Chilean cuisine; A solo show ‘Kemeralti’ by Italian artist Sara Berti which drew together many diverse motifs, images and influences from the area exploring her personal relation with these in her work; ‘Mirabilia’ a solo show by Irish artist Aoife Collins examining the subjectivity of consumer objects and images. This was open until the middle of February although it will transfer to Izmir University of Economics next week. There were also a number of artists’ talks related to each of these. In the future we will have a second exhibition of video and installation work by Aoife Collins. Also this spring there will an exhibition of Izmir based artists curated by the artist Mehmet Dere. After that this year there will be an exhibition by the artist Kaan Bağcı and a sound art event with Gurkhan Mihci and Cem Güney. Later we are looking at other projects, including a sound art festival in Kemeralti in September and we will be working with local academics and artists from Australia and Ireland examining issues of Art and Architecture in Izmir. How frequently changing the exhibition and talks in Marquis Projects? Can you tell us course of proceeding? Generally I am hoping to have eight to ten good exhibitions every year – mainly resulting from work created in the studio space itself. Also Maquis Projects will be able to facilitate a live/studio residency for four to five individuals each year. In the meantime, you are also a curator, when we compare the art spaces numerically in Izmir and in İstanbul, we can see that there is a gap in numbers. What do you think about the reason behind this situation as a curator? Quite simply Istanbul is more important as a global cultural city. Also it has became an important commercial art center. It is important for Turkish artists and art ‘workers’ to be based there, if not somewhere like Berlin or New York in order for their careers to flourish. The Turkish art scene is very dependent on private investment and support. There are parallels in smaller cities in the UK outside London. But in many of these places there is: A. good public funding structures for institutions and: B. established arts education facilities and other instıtutions which do much of the work establishing vibrant art scenes. We can see this in Istanbul as well with SantralIstanbul which is supported by Bilgi University. Actually I work for an art and design university IEU in Izmir and we are very interested in examining how educational bodies can contribute to the local cultural scene. When we look at the relation the human being within separated experiential and political conditions, Can we say that Maquis Projects can respond through the actions to relationship of order and power? I suppose the biggest problem facing human beings in relation to belonging to a public is that citizens with rights are slowly being transformed into consumers with credit ratings. I honestly believe that art through its inherent openness to commodification creates issues related to its relevance. However, I also think that that the process of making and relating to or witnessing art is a fundamental action that helps to define a truly public individual. I am thinking here of Alain Badaiou’s four categories of event – Art, Science, Politics and Love.
Vol. 7
Video Interview Series Nerdworking