Hale Tenger is an artist not shy of addressing major issues head-on, sometimes with a thinly disguised poetic veil. Based in Istanbul, she is the artist who filmed the façade of the St. George Hotel in Beirut for two years: the mesmeric film of uniform white curtains flapping through open windows capturing the essence of the site of the assassination of Rafik Hariri, former Prime Minister of Lebanon. Balloons on the Sea took over Green Art Gallery, Dubai during Art Week 2011 and was shown at the Venice Biennale four years later. The lyrical film of a row of colourful balloons bobbing on the surface of water masks the reality of its reference: a pastime in her hometown of Izmir, shooting at balloons in the sea with a rifle. That the image is inverted does create an uncanny sense of unease, that each balloon is replaced soon after it disappears suggests some sense of decorum and ultimately indestructibility.
The first time an artist and curator have been commissioned together by Alserkal, Tenger will create an outdoor intervention in The Yard titled Under, 2018 in collaboration with Protocinema’s founder, Mari Spirito. The work takes as its cue a fictional narrative of an ancient hunting ploy by aristocrats who placed netting in forests so that birds adapted their flying patterns to always fly low, and were therefore easy targets when the hunters came to play. A similar technique is adopted today in breeding habitats. “How have we adapted to the conditions of our time?” The artist asks. “If birds can forget to fly high in the sky, what have we humans forgotten?” A comment on systems of control, Under will call into question things we take for granted – psychological and physical barriers and entrapments in daily life that we are perhaps unaware of but which ultimately curtail our existence.
Hale Tenger, Under, 2018 at The Yard, Alserkal Avenue from March 19 – May 31
Featured image: Hale Tenger, Under, 2018, work in-progress. Photo courtesy Green Art Gallery, Dubai, Galeri Nev, Istanbul and Alserkal Programming, Dubai.
A version of this article appeared in print in Selections, Curriculum Vitae #44, page 36.