What is it? Where is it?
Performance of Altınlı Ekmek (Bread with Gold)
Vahit Tuna works on different mediums and realizes installations on venues and common places. His work titled Altınlı Ekmek (Bread with Gold) has been realized at the 15 minutes exhibitions titled Reserved, at Pist/// Interdiciplinary Project Space in July 2006 in Istanbul.
For the work, 150 breads have been baked and one with a small gold coin inside. The breads have been given away from the window of Pist1, which was formerly a shop to buy bread, to the people who are passer-bys, reside in the area of Pangaltı either in working spaces or in their apartments. Two days before, the performance has been announced to the public through flyers that have been broadcasted in the neighborhood. The flyers have been produced in the means of language that is mostly used by mass media. The performance lasted 15 minutes and has welcomed more than 150 people. People not only came and took the bread but also stayed till the very end of performance with quest on who would find the gold in the bread. The uprising excitement of who gets the gold and the common shared joy of receiving bread for free, has signed the happening of the act.
Bread, being the most common item, the basic need of nourishment, appears to be the medium of Tuna’s performance; the medium that opens itself to sharing and loses its physical being and transmits its experience and idea in the audience who experiences the work. In other words, Tuna displays an extraordinary approach to medium, assigning a common object as a medium of intended art practice, and questioning the medium as such. Bread with Gold is the very form of conceptual art in its very state of sharing among the people who are from a surrounding where conceptual art is taken at stake as an unnamed act of art. The work itself is also a quest of perceiving the performance as an art piece; a piece which stands far from the established norms of art making, a piece that attempts to involve the contributors with the knowledge of experiencing an act of art, a piece that is displaying the process of art making on its very intentions and especially a piece playing around what is and what is not art.
Bread has various connotations in Turkish society, not only the food you need but also the food you can afford to buy. The level of social income designates the nourishment, the surrounding, events to come across – such as participating in social gatherings, art events, etc. Tuna, by choosing bread the main item of his performance and the gold coin as the unexpected fortune, refers to the contemporary state of public; a public that founds dreams of easy money making, in need of income for that purpose playing lottery, calling TV competitions at the same time trying to manage every day struggle, feed themselves at least in basic means. Additionally, the public has a tradition of giving and receiving gold coins on special days, likewise Ottoman Empire used to in order to please the public and share wealth. Based on the common practice of the public on various levels Vahit Tuna forms a ground for share with its uncanny aspects of the current status quo.
Bread with Gold, in a way, is sequential to Tuna’s former installations: Eve gelirken ekmek almayı unutma (Do Not forget to buy bread on the way home) 2000 is a billboard that has been installed on a balcony of an apartment in Kadıkoy. The billboard is an open space for coming across. The sentence is not only an every day sentence produced among public but also a reminder of responsibility of managing a household, a continuation of family and togetherness.
Bir ekmek, bir gazete, iki şişe su (One bread, one newspaper, two bottles of water) is a video installation on a market car realized as an artist folder for 5th Istanbul Biennial titled On Life, Beauty, Translations and other Difficulties, curated by Rosa Martinez in 1997. The video is a documentary on the artist himself by the speech of the building keeper in which Tuna lives. The building keeper talks on the artist such as which exhibitions he participated, that he is a good person and a good artist. Tuna installed his work in the office room of the biennial near the folders of other artists who proposed projects.
Fatos Ustek, 2006