"A Place Where People Come Together."
Anne Haeming about Gülsün Karamustafa
Three silver spoons wrapped together with a piece of white cloth, lying on the floor - it all began with this, back in 1994. Heimat ist, wo man isst (Home Is Where You Eat) is the title of the work, whose showing at the ifa Gallery as part of a group exhibition commenced the collaboration between the ifa and Gülsün Karamustafa.
And the context in which these spoons are now to be seen in 2017, over twenty years later, demonstrates the importance that this Turkish artist has gained in the meantime in Germany: Heimat ist, wo man isst is part of her first large retrospective outside Turkey, at the Hamburger Bahnhof, a museum for contemporary art in Berlin.
That the ifa plays a special role in her career is explained not only by the "continuity" and "loyalty", which characterises this relationship and which she has repeatedly emphasized, but, above all, the stance of the institution, which in her opinion has the character of a model: "Back then, in the years after the fall of the Wall and the end of the Cold War, the focus of the artistic world shifted from the centre to the periphery a paradigm change in which the ifa played an essential part", says the 1946-born Karamustafa, whose works treat migration identities.
How much she feels herself linked to the ifa becomes clear when she talks about the installation Etiquette, which she created in 2011 for the 40th anniversary of the ifa Gallery Stuttgart. "It was the first time I'd seen it since the renovations", says Karamustafa. "I entered this large, light-flooded, open space, and the moment so inspired me that I knew what I would do for the anniversary." She placed a huge table, eighteen metres long, in the middle of the room. The exposed pipes and supporting columns structured the surrounding space like a pattern.
"Such a big dinner table has something festive about it", she says. "It's a place where people come together, get to know one another and exchange ideas - like the ifa itself."
Gülsün Karamustafa (born in Ankara in 1946) has influenced contemporary art in Turkey as no other artist
has. Her oeuvre spans more than forty years and the range of her expression is immense. Karamustafa has used sculptures, installations, videos and performances, repeatedly interwoven with elements of pop culture, to treat subjects such as migration, gender and Turkish history. She lives in Istanbul.
Anne Haeming is an art journalist living in Berlin.