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A view of “Mirage” projected at the beta launch of Postmasters Gallery in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood. (photo courtesy the artist)

Last night’s beta launch of the Postmasters Gallery in Tribeca featured a shadowy work by artist Serkan Özkaya, “Mirage” (2013). Two synchronized projectors created the illusion of an unidentified airplane passing through the gallery, but in the crowd of the opening night all anyone could see were quick glimpses of the object’s shadow as it cruised along quickly.

The clear allusion in Özkaya’s work is to the allegory of the cave (Plato’s Cave), which was used by Greek philosopher Plato to explain that those untutored in his Theory of Forms are but prisoners chained to a wall and forced to watch shadows believing that they are real rather than distortions of reality.

In “Mirage” the sweep of the form could suggest one of the infamous planes that traumatized the world during 9/11 (the new Postmasters space is quite close to the former World Trade Center) or possibly a drone, but its origin is more mysterious like a dramatic element in an absurdist play. ‘Will the plane ever appear,’ you wonder to yourself, but when it finally does it seems to disappear as quickly as a fleeting memory.

Özkaya’s work often straddles the border between two worlds — the real and the imaginary. It’s this dual energy that informs his art works, like “David (Inspired by Michelangelo)” that creates a copy of a sculpture he has never seen.

Standing inside “Mirage,” there’s a psychological dimension that only starts to reveal itself as the form repeats (every four minutes) and takes on the air of a dream that reoccurs night after night. Photographs and a time-lapse video of the work relate a clarity of the form that standing in the midst of the piece never quite communicates. Sometimes being too close to something means it can distort your perspective.

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.