RANDOM FOREST (A READING ROOM)
BY JONAH FREEMAN & JUSTIN LOWE
“In his essay The Electronic Revolution, William S. Burroughs cites the work of German Doktor Kurt Unruh von Steinplatz, who posited a theory that language originated in humans through a biological mutation of the nervous system caused by viral infection. Once the human body was infected with the language virus, it would replicate and mutate exponentially.”
ISTANBUL’74 presents Random Forest (A Reading Room), a site-specific exhibition by Jonah Freeman & Justin Lowe with Boo-Hooray, which opened on 15 September 2022. Running parallel to the 17th Istanbul Biennial, the exhibition will be on view through November at Nef Bebeköy and can be visited free of charge.
Artists Freeman and Lowe, and curator Johan Kugelberg also attended the opening night, which was marked by a live music performance by New York-based band Escape-Ism and Michelle Mae. “Freeman and Lowe are among the rare artists who can create compelling stories through objects and places. In this exhibition shaped around a Reading Room, the wallpaper work by Freeman and Lowe comes together with rare publications from the archives of artists and Boo-Hooray as well as contributors from across the world. The most exciting aspect of the exhibition is that it is organized with an interactive approach. Visitors will be able to peruse a vast selection ranging from various counter-culture publications to first editions of cult books, within an installation designed by artists.” ISTANBUL’74 co-founder and director Alphan Eşeli comments on the exhibition.
Inspired by William S. Burroughs’ The Electronic Revolution, the New York artist duo Freeman & Lowe take over a 19th century building in Istanbul, owned by Nef Bebeköy, and transform the space into a reading room. Conceived as an anachronistic vessel, the exhibition frames a group of artists, writers and musicians who have taken the language, the word and the book as a basis for broad methods for cut-up, collage and disruption.
The exhibit is organized in such a way as to have the ephemeral co-mingle with the unique art object. Functioning like a rare book room in a library, the exhibition features a collection of text art, book works, archives, albums, writings, diaries, statements, scores, zines, graphic works, page art, illustrated books, magazine works, and all manner of ephemera. Visitors can request a work in which they can explore in the reading lounge.
The exhibition design has the foundation of Jonah Freeman & Justin Lowe’s wallpaper work Random Forest. In this work, the artists have developed a pseudo-random design generator that makes color-fade grid patterns from their studio picture archive. Over 20,000 images are organized into categories according to subjects. The result is a seemingly endless matrix of imagery.
With the contribution of leading names from the creative disciplines, the artist duo undertook the curation, with Boo-Hooray led by Swedish-born music historian and collector of counter-culture artifacts Johan Kugelberg. Accompanying the Reading Room, the exhibition also features an Audio Room that showcases limited edition records ranging from Turkish psychedelic rock to Brazilian experimental sounds, from the archive of filmmaker Alphan Eşeli.
Additionally, throughout the duration of the exhibition, a series of talks and events will take place at the ‘74 Lounge, designed by Gem Alf with rare vintage pieces, where visitors can also enjoy a special selection of titles at the Assouline corner.
Random Forest: A Reading Room
Open Tuesday—Sunday between 11:00 and 19:00