The artist and critic Victor Burgin has called for an alternative conception of time that could prompt ‘a radical questioning of History’s status as the one story of Western progress and culture’. This talk responds to Burgin’s call and interprets his 2010 digital image projection ‘A Place to Read’ at the Istanbul Archeological Museum along with the artists and architects the work conjures and engages with. Thinking about the ideas of time inherent in competing global histories of art and architecture, the talk traces the intertwined stories of translations across time, space, and medium converging in Istanbul from the albums of Armenian photography studio Abdullah Frères during the Ottoman Period; the buildings of Turkish and German architects Sedad Eldem and Bruno Taut during the Early Republic; to the works of British and Japanese contemporary artists Victor Burgin and Aki Nagasaka. The talk’s cyclical structure mimics Burgin’s video loops as a rehearsal of stories that operate in non-linear, fragmented or overlapping times of the human subject with out-of-phase durations or overlapping histories.
Esra Akcan’s research on modern and contemporary architecture and urbanism foregrounds the intertwined histories of Europe and West Asia. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture at Cornell University, completed her architecture degree at the Middle East Technical University in Turkey, and her PhD and postdoctoral degrees at Columbia University in New York. She is the author of the books Architecture in Translation (Duke University Press, 2012), Turkey: Modern Architectures in History (Reaktion, 2012, with Sibel Bozdoğan), Çeviride Modern Olan (YKY, 2009) and (Land)Fill Istanbul: Twelve Scenarios for a Global City (124/3, 2004), as well as articles on contemporary theory, modern and contemporary architecture in West Asia, Ottoman architectural photography, established Euro-American architects’ engagement with the Gulf States and the Middle Eastern diaspora in Europe. She is currently completing her book Open Architecture at the American Academy in Berlin.