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Mr Monkey sees Life in the UK/Balance of Probabilities at the Castlefield Gallery, 6th October

Mr Monkey went into Manchester to visit the Castlefield Gallery to see Life in the UK/Balance of Probabilities, an exhibition by Didem Özbek and Osman Bozkurt of the Instanbul-based PiST/// group. Özbek and Bozkurt are the only Turkish artists displaying in the Asia Triennial Manchester 2011, and this exhibition focuses on restrictions on the freedom of travel.
Mr Monkey looking at Moaning Diary by Didem Özbek
Mr Monkey watching The Counters by Osman Bozkurt
Mr Monkey looking at part of The Collection #2-11 by Didem Özbek
Mr Monkey looking at Spaces of Uncertainty by Osman Bozkurt
Mr Monkey was able to start looking at the exhibition even before he got into the gallery, as the windows have been converted into Moaning Diary by Didem Özbek. This apparently makes the gallery look like a visa office near to the PiST/// studios; when he got closer Mr Monkey saw that the windows were covered with the personal accounts of people experiencing difficulties with visas.

To get in, Mr Monkey's humans had to pass an almost proper airport (or Canadian Embassy in London) immigration check; Mr Monkey hid in Mr Rik's pocket and entered unofficially.

Inside, Mr Monkey was fascinated by The Counters by Osman Bozkurt. Six people, from both sides of the visa application desk, talk about the visa process (luckily, there are subtitles).

Downstairs, Ozman Bozkurt's Dream Trip displays different sorts of passport, a collection of luggage and travel posters; the cheery posters contrast with the Turkish experience of entering various European countries.

Mr Monkey tried to work out what connected the groups of passport photos assembled in The Collection #2-11 by Didem Özbek, a task made somewhat more difficult by all the faces having been cut out of the photos.

Mr Monkey looking at Life in the UK : Ian and the exam space Spaces of Uncertainty is a series of photographs by Osman Bozkurt, showing the interiors of various visa application centres in the UK. Mr Monkey was surprised to see how much the rooms varied, and how very few of them looked in any way friendly or welcoming.

Finally, Mr Monkey examined Life in the UK, and read the instructions laid out on every desk. He found out that he could sign up his humans to take part of the UK Citizenship test, but they objected on the grounds that it would be upsetting to find out that they didn't know the right things to live in country they were born in and that Ian, the virtual character who was supposed to help with the test, was rather sinister.

So Mr Monkey went home instead.

Life in the UK/Balance of Probabilities runs until November 27th.

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