In 2010, as part of Iz Öztat’s work ‘Contract’, Volkan Aslan signed an agreement by which he agreed to become the artist’s volunteer, releasing all rights to their collaboratively produced outcome. The contract was displayed alongside neon lights in the shape of each artist’s signature. For The Moving Museum Istanbul, in what the artist refers to as a ‘letter to the future’, five plaster replicas of an anonymous antique Greek head are adorned with neon halos. The use of existing sculptural busts recalls Aslan’s 2013 series ‘Don’t Forget To Remember’, for which he collected porcelain and ceramic statuettes prominent in the homes of the village where he grew up, shattering them and taking generous licence in his outlandish reconfigurations. Here his lighthearted formal antagonisation of classical models offers a theatricalisation of the postmodern disregard for historical context in favour of viewer interpretation.
In the artist’s 2013 neon work ‘Games Games Games’, the interlaced rings of the Olympic symbol appear to be melting from the gallery ceiling. ‘Dear Ugly Future’, employs neon – first appropriated from commercial advertising and street signs by pop-artists in the 1920s – as abstract antennae joining ancient and modern.
Sculptural busts are conventionally positioned on plinths or in display cases in order to approximate the height of the individual modelled. Here instead the figures are placed at intervals along the floor of the parking structure updating and industrializing the form of the neoclassical bust lamp. They are not only anonymous, duplicated, and appended, but are also instrumentalised through their installation as pathway lighting. Their primary coloured headpieces return neon to its humble commercial origins illuminating urban streets, esqueing both classical canonization and purist modern form.
Volkan Aslan (b. 1982, Ankara) is an artist living and working in Istanbul. He received his BFA in Painting from Mersin University, Mersin. Selected solo exhibitions include Pi Artworks, Istanbul, 2015; Pi Artworks, London, 2014; Arter, Istanbul, 2013; Macka Art Gallery, Istanbul, 2011. Recent group shows include Istanbul Modern Museum, 2017; Galerist, Istanbul, 2016; Maxxi Museum, Rome, 2015; 13th Istanbul Biennial, 2013; 5533, Istanbul, 2013; Cer Modern, Ankara, 2011; Arter, 2010; Depo, Istanbul, 2010; Delfina Foundation, London, 2009; Bethanien Kunstlerhaus, Berlin, 2009; Bovisa Museum, Milan, 2008. Aslan is also co-founder of 5533, a non-profit independent art space in Istanbul.