Book: Forthcoming 2021
Meticulous in execution, Rey Akdogan’s work offers profound entryways into the most fundamental and pressing question of our time: How will communities across the planet identify, contend with, and leverage the reality and growing impact of our redundancy? Rey emphasizes objects that pepper our inhabited worlds, meditating on a visual landscape of standardization. For example: french cleats used for hanging artwork, hospital crash rails, theater props, lights, and dimmers are abstracted and recast but not before perverting the qualities that decide their function. These objects, in their being and concept, play a vital function in our built environment, yet are ubiquitous to the point of invisibility. The prominent critic Gregory Sholette, has analyzed the interdependence of acknowledged, celebrated labor with laborers who are invisible. In Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise, he frames surplus as a necessary redundancy that fuels the broader field of art making and circulation,. This line of inquiry can inform a reading of Akdogan’s broader thinking about the shape of the world we inhabit, our role in its formulation, and its impact on our psyche.
Akdogan’s Carousel series provides opportunities to notice specific phenomena that the artist has identified as critical to reconstructing the making and use of the everyday packaging. Each image is made by cutting and folding found material which is set between the glass slides. When installed, light passes through the slides, enlarging different close-up views of the packaging’s materiality. Each of the carousels tackles the function and meaning embedded in a specific physical shape or historical event. Carousel #9, 2016 makes a study of seams that structure different packages. Carousel #6, 2011 recalls the color magenta and its origins in 1859 in the second Italian War of Independence, when the French and Italian forces defeated the Austrians at Magenta in Italy. The battle rendered a landscape soaked in blood. Rey reminds us of the legacy of this ubiquitous color and its essential value to theater, the visual art, and even TV. Through careful decision, she has constructed a lexicon demanding rigorous analysis and contextualization.