Multimedia artist Serhat Köksal is a pioneer of the Turkish underground. He works at the intersection of visual arts and music, creating conceptual collages of sound and image. The name of his project 2/5 BZ dates back to 1991. Fascinated by the roots and contexts of the Turkish culture, Köksal began with conceptual punk art, combining electronics with the Turkish string instrument saz. He referred to the Anatolian traditions of art critical of the authorities, to Sufism, dervishes and wandering artists, 60’s rock, Anatolian post-rock as well as exuberant Kurdish wedding music. He has performed in Europe and the USA, in art galleries and squats.
In 1994, he was recorded by John Peel (legendary British journalist and BBC radio host, whose „Peel Sessions” had featured, Joy Division, The Cure, PJ Harvey and Ultravox, among others), during one the presenter’s music research trips. Peel then invited the artist to perform on BBC in 2001 and 2004, featuring him on two albums in the “Peel Sessions” series. Köksal’s activities in the following years have remained in the cultural and political avant-garde in Turkey. According to the prestigious magazine “The Wire”: “One of the first protesters to face down the riot police in Taksim Square was 2/5BZ, the pioneer of politically charged Turkish electro music and a favorite of the late John Peel”.
The visual layer of 2/5 BZ is a raw, uncompromising collage reminiscent of the aesthetic of Negativland or the video art of the early 90s. In his work, Serhat Köksal incorporates fragments of Turkish trash movies and B-movies from the 70s with the characters appearing in new political contexts. The artist’s flagship slogan is “No Turistik / No Egzotik”. For years, Koksal has presented the meanders of contemporary Middle Eastern geopolitics to the foreign audience, playing with the stereotypes of Turkey in the Western tourist narrative. He has processed official government announcements, he had created memes long before they were invented. The artist comments on cultural clichés and stereotypes about the East and deconstructs the oriental, idealized image of the tourist paradise. The message 2/5 BZ sends to the European audience makes it clear the “exotic” perception of countries such as Turkey is a manifestation of fundamental ignorance and post-colonial mentality.
In the sound layer, Serhat Köksal incorporates break core samples from Turkish psychedelia of the 60’s, beats inspired by the Turkish and Kurdish percussion and enriched by heavy industrial electronics, dub bass reminiscent of early Fun Da Mental productions, lines from film dialogues, TV news or political statements.