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3-10 February 2024

Deniz Bedir

Born Marseille, France (1997), works and lives in Paris, France

Taşlık Kahvesi 2024
wood, aluminium frame, drywall paintings, coating, pigment, raffia mats, plastic mats, tea, coffee, glasses, burner stove
13m x 13m
Courtesy of the artist
The production of this work was supported by Zalmaï Levrat, Anaïs Antonio, Aksel Doruk.
Commissioned by Lagos Biennial 2024

Artist’s statement

Taşlık Kahvesi is an oasis lost amidst the concrete slabs of Tafawa Balewa Square, conceived as a resting space in the biennial itinerary.

A communal café where the public, staff and artists are invited to serve themselves and others. It aims to be a platform for informal exchanges and encounters, enabling all those involved in the biennial to meet and share gestures of hospitality. It follows the legacy of the bars designed for the first editions of the Havana Biennial. Its third edition extended the global territory of contemporary art and redefined the biennial model.

The work takes its name from the famous Taşlık Kahvesi. Built in Istanbul by the architect Sedad Hakki Eldem in 1948. Its architecture combines elements of the first official Ottoman architecture and modernism. It was a symbol of the democratic ideal that the young Turkish Republic aspired to embody. With its location offering a majestic view of the Bosphorus and a garden open to all, regardless of class gender and age, the café symbolised an inclusive and egalitarian vision.

Today, however, although the building remains physically intact, it has disappeared into a hotel complex. For Victor Burgin, who wrote and made an artwork about the café in his work ‘A Place to Read’, the Taşlık Kahvesi has become a ruin. Its founding ideals and the symbols it carried have been swept away by the forces of capitalism.

Taşlık Kahvesi appears in TBS in its simplest form, borrowing its spatial qualities and built as a temporary structure. Paintings act as windows into a static horizon, freezing time in space, creating an atmosphere where visitors feel suspended between reality and imagination, a shelter preserved from the tumultuousness of the outside world.

Entering this space awakens an almost ‘illusory’ sense of comfort, transporting us into the idea of a golden age of the Turkish democratic ideal and drawing parallels with the years following Nigeria’s independence and the redevelopment of Tafawa Balewa Square.

The reproduction of Taşlık Kahvesi in the biennial questions how we can reappropriate the places and symbols that capitalism suppresses or commodifies over time, and how we can move beyond them to imagine the recomposition of our society starting by taking time for moments of togetherness.

Deniz Bedir’s work is included in Gregarious architectures.