Born 1974 in Istanbul, Turkey Lives and works in Istanbul

Informed by studies in architecture and sound design, artist and musician Cevdet Erek’s work explores concepts of time, rhythm and space through the use of sound and performance. Erek often works with site-specific installations to interpret the multitude of systems and structures humans have developed to measure and organise their day-to-day lives. Employing a broad variety of media, Erek composes immersive artworks that play with our perceptions of reality, space and time, encouraging audiences to respond and react to a carefully arranged but open-ended environment.

Room of Rhythms – Long Distance Relationship, 2016, is the latest iteration of Erek’s long-running Room of Rhythms project, which has taken on different guises in Basel, Kassel, Vienna, Bristol, Rome and Istanbul. For Sydney, an exercise in making work at a distance, the artist is at one remove from the final piece itself. Erek decided not to make a site visit, and instead built up a layered imagining of the site through other means. Among his sources were conventional documentation in the form of architectural plans, photographs and audio/video recordings, as well as personal narratives from Biennale staff, colleagues in Australia, and friends who had participated in the previous edition of the Biennale. More unusual references were called on, too, such as recordings of several people leaving their homes and traveling to Cockatoo Island, or of particular sounds from the same instruments played at the site and in Istanbul. All of this is combined with the artist’s own experience of installing his work, adapting sounds and architectural additions to the particular character of a space, and experiences of three historic stone buildings in the artist’s native Turkey that these spaces call to mind.

As with its earlier versions, Room of Rhythms – Long Distance Relationship explores the spatial dynamics and histories of its site, by creating a resonance through sound and rhythm between the physical space and the visitor within it. In particular, Erek looks to draw on the history of Cockatoo Island as the focus of union campaigns to reduce the work week from 44 to 40 hours, and alludes to participating artists’ protests during the previous edition of the Biennale. The 1947 Arbitration Court ruling to reduce the work week was the culmination of a campaign dating back to the 1850s. The notion that almost 100 years of protests were needed to gain four fewer hours of gruelling working conditions is incorporated as a motif underlying the rhythm of the work, formalised with stops or slow-downs to mirror the tactics of workers’ strikes. A steady beat permeates the Guards House, Annexe and surrounding lawns evenly, activating the spaces without physically modifying them. The buildings and the lawns become frames for the work, both containing it within their surrounds and opening it up to the island itself and the skies beyond.

Recent solo exhibitions of Cevdet Erek’s work include ‘Faça’, AKINCI, Amsterdam (2014–15); ‘Re-’, mor charpentier, Paris (2014); ‘Alt Üst’, Spike Island, Bristol (2014); ‘Pattern Anti-Pattern’, Artistic Dialogues V, Künstlerhaus Stuttgart (2013); and ‘Week’, Kunsthalle Basel (2012). The artist has shown in numerous major international exhibitions, including ‘SALTWATER: A Theory of Thought Forms’, 14th Istanbul Biennial (2015); ‘Open Museum, Open City’, MAXXI, Rome (2014); ‘7th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art’, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane (2013); and ‘dOCUMENTA (13)’, Kassel (2012).