Bennu Stasis, Küçük Mustafa Paşa Hamamı, İstanbul

Duration: 3 October 2021 - 30 September 2021
Artist: Jake Michael Singer
Curator: Sinan Polvan

The young artist from South Africa Jake Michael Singer’s giant abstract bird sculptures as metaphorical representations of freedom and incarceration, order and chaos, are being introduced to İstanbul’s art lovers, in the “Küçük Mustafa Paşa” Hammam, as a site specific installation “Bennu Stasis: We Shall Meet Again in the Light”.

Muse Contemporary is presenting a mega project in the historical “Küçük Mustafa Paşa” Hammam, under the patronage of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the South African Embassy, and with the collaboration of the Municipality of Fatih in İstanbul. Jake Michael Singer, the young artist from South Africa had his first presentation at the group exhibition Angel, in the St. Antoine Church in İstanbul. Two years later, Singer has returned to İstanbul, with the site-specifıc installation titled “Bennu Stasis:We Shall Meet Again in the Light”. The installation can be visited from October 3rd to end of November 2021.

The main theme of the project is the dialogue between segregation and unity, chaos and order, suffering and overcoming. The project title refers to Bennu, the symbol of catharsis, renewal and the rising sun.

Muse Contemporary has invited Jake Michael Singer to Turkey

In the words of Ayşe Pınar Akalın who is the founder and director of the Muse Contemporary: “We have been working on the project for two years with Jake Michael Singer and our team. During the time period spanning from decision to actualization of the project quite a number of obstacles had to be faced due to the pandemic related working conditions. However, we persevered in our conviction and succeeded in completing this ambitious project”.

Sinan Polvan, the curator, stated that selection of the 544 year old “Küçük Mustafa Paşa” Hammam provided an ideal context and volume for the site-oriented installation.

The creation of 13 giant-sized bird-like sculptures was completed in 3 months in İstanbul, involving the intensive work of a large team.

The South African Artist together with his two assistants from Zimbabwe, came to İstanbul to work with 7 Turkish craftsmen, to create 13 bird-like sculptures made from marine grade stainless steel rods. In Jake Michael Singer’s words, ‘steel rods are used mainly in the construction of fences and this creates a paradox in the work as the shape alludes to freedom, migration and the bird that is the archetype of “divine”, whilst fences symbolize incarceration, limit-enforcement and separation. The artist also mentioned that he appreciated very much the synergy of the team in İstanbul.

Installation – Metaphor for freedom and incarceration, order and chaos.

The installation is multi-sensorial and consists of 13 human-sized bird sculptures, scent of the freshly mowed grass, music, steel reed enclosures encircling the sculptures and paintings depicting the theme. The bird sculptures soaring in a spiral path towards the light filtered from the cupola placed under the dome of 14.5 meters by 12.5 meters elevation of the women’s section of the hammam and suspended on a self-supported steel structure, represent the avian choreography.

Historical sites in the light of contemporary art.

The installation stands as a metaphor for both collective and segregated humanity, for concepts of freedom and incarceration, order and chaos. In an era that can be characterized 

with deprivation of humanity’s collective instinct through disruptive migrations and segregations, we wished to refer to nature’s inherent intelligence, in birds’ concerted harmony and intuitive path-finding through their unbound and unconfined soaring in the air.

Our installation for the 2013 “İstanbul Biennial” at the historical “Küçük Mustafa Paşa” Hammam initiated the use of this setting for international art events. We are proud for this trend-setting and for having returned to this site after its renovation, with a major contemporary art event.

Presaging new project developments

Young artist Jake Michael Singer claims this recent experience to be a turning point in his career and plans further collaboration with Muse Contemporary and the Municipality of Fatih for new project developments on the historical peninsula of İstanbul.