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Untitled (Ocean)

Date 2017
Location Istanbul Turkey
Dimensions Variable, duration of video 9:56 minutes
Print medium Mixed media

Commissioned for Perpetual Revolution: The Image and Social Change (2017), Turkish artist Hakan Topal’s installation had its starting point with the image of Alan Kurdi, the Syrian child whose drowned body was photographed on the beach in Bodrum, Turkey in 2015. That image, made by photojournalist Nilu¨fer Demir, was Tweeted 30,000 times, appeared on the screens of nearly twenty million people within twelve hours. Topal’s work comprises 3-D animation and captured Internet image searches. The surface on which these images are projected evokes the limestone of the Syrian-Turkish border, and the shores at Bodrum, which also appear in footage by Topal. A recurring element is a heartbreaking scene witnessed by the artist in Istanbul, that of a Syrian child sleeping alone on the streets near a public park that has become a refugee camp. The shuffling of Topal’s documentary images with those circulating on the Internet points to the disjunction between lived and virtual experience of despair. For Topal, the sea itself acts as metaphor for vast and churning digital space in which these images circulate.

Credit line

Purchase, with funds provided by the ICP Acquisitions Committee, 2017

Feedback Accession No. 2017.5.1