Since the mid-1990s, Halil Altindere (Turkish, b. 1971) has emerged as one of the most prominent contemporary artists in Turkey with a multifaceted practice that ranges from video, sculpture, photography, installation, and performance to collaborative editorial and curatorial projects. Altindere’s film Wonderland, which is in the MoMA collection, documents the anger and frustration of a group of youths from the historic Sulukule neighborhood of Istanbul, home to Romani communities since the Byzantine Empire that has been increasingly demolished since 2006 as part of an “urban renewal” development project. Presented in the style of a music video, Wonderland captures the young men of the hip-hop group Tahribad-ı isyan rapping about inequality and gentrification as they are simultaneously confronted by the police.
In May 2013, protests were held in Istanbul’s Taksim Square in reaction to plans to replace the park with a shopping mall and high end residences. The protests developed into riots when a group began occupying Taksim Square in an effort to highlight issues such as freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, as well as more broadly defending the secularism of Turkey. The following year, in response to the widespread use of social media during the protests, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan passed a law which enabled him to shut down websites without a court order and to collect Web browsing data on individuals. In addition, he blocked Twitter for two weeks and temporarily banned the use of YouTube. Such restrictions highlight the systems of power deeply embedded in Turkish culture.
Halil Altindere: Wonderland is organized by Klaus Biesenbach, Director MoMA PS1, and Chief Curator at Large, The Museum of Modern Art, with Margaret Aldredge, Curatorial Assistant, MoMA PS1.