“Balloons on the sea” takes its subject directly from a popular pastime practiced along the Bosphorus in Istanbul and along the coastlines of Turkey; a game of shooting at balloons laid on the sea. A very radiant visual impact is created by a string of colorful balloons and their reflections on the sea, as they keep floating from side to side with the waves and the wind. In her installation Tenger reverses this image and thus fabricates an ambiguity where reflections become beings and beings become reflections. It is as if the reality is no more the reality that we take for granted. The continual floating of balloons in the image is still lyrical but there is an accompanying uncanny feeling to it. This hinted feeling finds its reason as the viewer crosses to the other side of the space where the balloons are randomly blown up, yet surprisingly every single one of them comes back to life in an almost ghostly manner. A tension is built up with the expectancy of a burst yet not knowing which one and when it will. This subtle atmosphere leaves the viewer in between two worlds: while one charmingly invites to indulge oneself in the joyful reverberations of the gently floating balloons, the other almost as soft as a whisper brings the spectral side of their existence into focus.
Similar to some of her earlier work, “Balloons On the Sea” bears a dominant dreamlike aspect that contains references to childhood and is based on the reflections of various psychological conditions. In this work the artist creates a fairy-like atmosphere surrounding the viewer, thus pulling the viewer to the field of dreams, the subconscious, the desires and fears that lie in the depth of collective memory.
Born in Izmir in 1960, Hale Tenger is a multimedia artist whose works cut across conventional boundaries. Her large scale environments, video installations as well as objects and video works explore the dichotomy between nature and culture and consider the power relations and the importance of observation.
Tenger has had several solo shows in Turkey and abroad including “Strange Fruit” at Galeri Nev in 2009, “Never Never Land” at the Mannheimer Kuntsverein in Mannheim in 2001, “Decent Deathwatch: Bosnia-Herzegovina” at the Kunst Werke in Berlin in 1994 and others. Her work has been included in many prominent group exhibitions at institutions such as Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna (2010), Tanas Berlin (2010), Istanbul Modern (2010), Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (2009), Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul (2009), Palais des Beaux Arts de Lille (2009), Pier 92, NY (2008), Westfalischer Kunstverein, Münster (2008), Slought Foundation, Philadelphia (2008), Museum voor Moderne Kunst Arnhem, Arnhem (2006), Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2005) and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (1996). She has taken part in various biennials including the 2nd and 3rd Istanbul Biennial (1990 & 1992), Manifesta 1 (1996) at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam and the São Paulo Biennial (1994). Her work is in several significant public collections including the Museum voor Moderne Kunst Arnhem, Istanbul Modern, Linda Pace Foundation and Vehbi Koc Foundation.
Her work has been featured and reviewed widely in publications such as Art in America, Artforum, ArtAsiaPacific and Frieze. She lives and works in Istanbul.