James Putnam
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'The Mechanical Turk', Gavin Turk, 56th Venice Biennale

Curated by James Putnam

Hotel Metropole - Riva degli Schiavoni, 30122 Venice

May 1 -June 30, 2015

Gavin Turk's film/installation 'The Mechanical Turk' is a site-specific installation within the context of the hotel's Byzantine, historical and cultural references. The film shows the artist impersonating Wolfgang von Kempelen's famous automoton 'The Turk' (1769) which was capable of playing a game of chess against a human opponent. This ingeniously constructed mechanism was exhibited by its various owners and captivated audiences across Europe and America, until Edgar Allen Poe exposed it in the early 1820s as a hoax. The cabinet beneath the automaton was an elaborate hiding place for a dwarf chess master to secretly play the game.The cultural theorist Walter Benjamin compared 'The Turk' to a particular view of history, which doesn't see through the illusions that conceal the true mechanisms of power and he related the automaton to Karl Marx's concept of historical materialism.

Hotel Metropole, Riva degli Schiavoni, 30122 Venice Vaporetto stop San Zaccaria or Arsenale




installation - 'The Mechanical Turk' - Gavin Turk

installation - 'The Mechanical Turk' - Gavin Turk

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