SIGNS TAKEN IN WONDER surveys the work of 33 international contemporary artists, born between the 1920s and the 1980s, whose art work engages with
aspects of the culture, history, and daily life of Istanbul, one of the worlds great metropolises. Istanbul has been
fascinating people for centuriesthe exhibition carries that fascination into the 21st century.
Many works in SIGNS TAKEN IN WONDER reflect the MAKs status as a museum whose collections span several centuries and materially embrace architecture, ceramics,
furniture, glass, metal work, works on paper, and textilesrefracted in myriad ways in the exhibition through the lens
of contemporary art. Significant for SIGNS TAKEN IN WONDER is the MAKs extensive holdings of Ottoman applied arts, or, that have traveled via Istanbul to Europe on trade-routes
from farther in the East, representing Istanbuls influence as a mediator between Asia and Europe. Because of these collection
holdingsand Viennas own status as a gateway to Eastern Europethe MAK operates as a global laboratory
of culture and maintains a special focus on EuropeAsia.
The MAK exhibition takes its inspiration from an essay by Homi K. Bhabha, which describes the phenomenon of wonderment and
amazement experienced during thediscovery of a new, foreign language and culture. A similar spirit informs Franco Morettis
analysis of the relationship between world literatures and cultures in his book Signs Taken for Wonders (London, 1983). Curators Simon Rees and Bärbel Vischer will examine the development of narration and language as a topic
of contemporary art. The wonderment is that of the curators developing the exhibition, as they confronted the metropolis and
engaged in the process of discovering its various miracles, its culture and its art. At the same time, the reference to theoreticians
and authors of world literature reflects the challenge of shedding light on a metropolis that encompasses European, Middle
Eastern, and Asian geographies and cultures.
The exhibition intends to produce narratives of smallness in our era of bigness and globalization, presenting a collection
of small worlds and little wonders. The influence wielded by Istanbul on the collective imaginary is reflected in the exhibitions
focus on the individual and individuality; that sets in motion constructions of worldviews and worlds
formation as reflected in the works of important authors such as Mario Levi or Orhan Pamuk. Those images and ideas hold
fascination for several of the artists featured in the exhibition, who explore the citys rich store of popular antagonisms
and ambivalences; others avoid involving themselves in this dialogue by examining paradigms of modernism established elsewhere
in the world.
Participating Artists Hamra Abbas / Murat Akagündüz / Yeşim Akdeniz / Eylem Aladoğan / Meriç Algün Ringborg / Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin
/ Halil Altindere / CANAN / Asli Çavuşoğlu / Cengiz Çekil / Banu Çennetoğlu / Mutlu Çerkez / Antonio Cosentino
/ Canan Dagdelen / Lukas Duwenhögger / Erdem Ergaz / Cevdet Erek / Murat Gök / Nilbar Güreş / Sibel Horada / Emre Hüner
/ Aki Nagasaka / Olaf Nicolai / Marcel Odenbach / Füsun Onur / Ahmet Öğüt / Mario Rizzi / Nasra Şimmes / Erdem Taşdelen
/ Cengiz Tekin / Güneş Terkol / İrem Tok / Uygur Yılmaz
Curators Simon Rees, MAK, and Bärbel Vischer, Curator MAK Contemporary Art Collection
Catalogue SIGNS TAKEN IN WONDER: Searching for Contemporary Art about Istanbul, edited by Christoph Thun-Hohenstein, Simon Rees and Bärbel Vischer, texts by Vasif Kortun, Mario Levi, Markus Neuwirth,
Bige Örer, Nikos Papastergiadis, Simon Rees, Gerhard Roiss, Christoph Thun-Hohenstein and Bärbel Vischer, German/English,
c. 192 pages, MAK Vienna / Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern 2013. Available at the MAK Design Shop
The circa 1,500 works, work groups and bundles of documentation contained in this collection encompass the areas of fine art
and architecture: from avant-garde movements of the 1920s to current artistic stances, the holdings encompass works in various
media such as drawing, painting, photography video and film, as well as objects, sculptures, installations, environments and
architecture-related contributions including designs, models and animations.
Published on the occasion of the exhibition of the same title (23.1.–21.4.2013). German/English, 168 pages, numerous coloured illustrations, 32 x 24 cm, softcover MAK Vienna / Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern, 2013