born 1981, Diyarbakir, Turkey
lives in Amsterdam, Berlin, and Istanbul
When the Prussian army attempted to suppress the socialist insurgency in Dresden in 1849, revolutionary anarchist Mikhail Bakunin suggested an unusual defense: placing paintings from the National Museum’s collection in front of the barricades. He speculated that Prussian soldiers wouldn’t dare destroy the priceless works and would therefore not breach the barricade. Although the original proposal was never realized, Öğüt’s installation Bakunin’s Barricade recreates the idea of the barricade with works selected from the Allen Memorial Art Museum’s collection by the artist in conjunction with museum staff and student researchers. A contract accompanying the installation stipulates that the artworks may be requested by activists and deployed in the case of future social uprisings.
This iteration is the North American premiere of the project. Öğüt, who works across media, often using humor and small gestures to offer commentary on serious social issues, has exhibited widely, including representing Turkey at the Venice Biennale in 2009. Bakunin’s Barricade connects with Oberlin and nearby Kent State University as historical sites of protest and political activism. It questions the power of art and the roles that higher education plays in developing new models for society and bringing to the fore issues of value, law, activism, and agency.
Ahmet Öğüt is an artist who divides his time between Amsterdam, Berlin, and and Istanbul and is the initiator of The Silent University.
Ahmet Öğüt, Bakunin’s Barricade, 2022, Commissioned by FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, with support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and in partnership with the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College. This program is also supported as part of the Dutch Culture USA program by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York.