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Auditions for an Unwritten Opera
Until 8 October 2023
Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden
The experimental exhibition format: “Auditions for An Unwritten Opera” presents the multi-layered work of the artist Mutlu Çerkez (1964−2005) to a wider public for the first time in Germany.
Starting with a solo presentation, a constellation of installations and exhibits unfolds. Selected works by Çerkez enter into dialogue with contemporary practices by artists such as Juliet Carpenter, Jesse Darling and Hanne Lippard as well as historical positions such as On Kawara, Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt, Felix Gonzalez-Torres and many more.
”… I began to title each of my works with a date from the future that would fall within my possible lifetime. I would commit to repeating each work in some way on that date. Each work would reappear at a later date in my life’s work. My work would not evolve, or at least the gradient of its evolution would be flat. It is a system in which I can consciously delude myself that all my works are mature. And if I worked within this system, I would indeed objectively use my own life’s work as its own object.” Mutlu Çerkez
Like no other genre, opera reflects the coexistence of life and death. An unwritten opera — the titular unwritten opera — as a work of art invites us to develop a radical poetics of contemporary practice. The exhibition thus revisits an artistic position that has repeatedly asked for a specific form: the unwritten opera as a conceptual work.
As part of his Unwritten Opera, Mutlu Çerkez devoted almost a decade between 1992 and 2000 to exercises in the form of studies of prop and make-up design and examined various record covers of bootleg recordings by the band Led Zeppelin. Çerkez continued the practice of Unwritten Opera by extending its form and materiality to a painting or the Marshall guitar amplifier also used by Jimmy Page (Untitled: 14 July 2030, shown in 1999 as “stage furniture/props for an unwritten opera”). Likewise, he expanded it in terms of content with Auditions for an Unwritten Opera in 2000, an exhibition that consisted of a video documentary of the exhibition opening.
His major work “A design for the overture curtain of an Unwritten Opera, Untitled: 15 January 2028” (1999), shown at the 6th Istanbul Biennial (1999), serves as a key reference for the dramaturgy and choreography of the exhibition at the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, which develops along Mutlu Çerkez’s artistic production. Çerkez’s works are shown alongside those of a new generation of queer, critical and radical practices that pose questions about the act of rehearsal, the work in progress and the artist’s life as a biography of transition. The term “around” used in the exhibition’s subtitle refers to circling, gathering and staying together.
Mutlu Çerkez with Antonia Baehr, Juliet Carpenter, Jesse Darling, Julian Dashper, Egemen Demirci, Pedro Gómez-Egaña, Léuli Eshrāghi, Marco Fusinato, Delia Gonzalez, Özlem Günyol & Mustafa Kunt, On Kawara, Hanne Lippard, Callum Morton, Serkan Özkaya, Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt, Jeff Wall Production, and Felix Gonzales Torres. Curated by Misal Adnan Yıldız.