Galeri 5 is a not-for-profit art gallery in the lobby of an office building in Ümraniye. Artist Gizem Karakaş kicked off the Devir project in January 2019 by inviting me to do an eight-day residency at the space over the course of a month before choosing an artist to hand over the space to. During 2019, this group exhibition unfolded.
Confronted with an empty gallery, I researched the area of Ümraniye and took walks in the neighborhood. Ümraniye—a rapidly developing neighborhood, en route to becoming a business hub—was frequently uttered by the president to remind his base of a tragic event from the 1990s. There was a gas explosion in the city dumping ground in Ümraniye. More than forty people, trash collectors living near the site, died and most of the bodies were never recovered. Thinking about the context of the gallery, I arrived at thinking about the instrument of theremin as a metaphor for all that is unutterable and unrepresentable. Could exhibitions imply bodies that are not there? Could the seemingly empty space become a site of all that could be activated?
As the office building was right next to the small auto-industry, I bought two car antennas and placed them on the two walls of the niche looking over the street. I wanted to imply a connection between these two walls that were connected to each other through what they could broadcast and utter. The other elements of the installation—the photograph, the letter, and the song—were left to start off the artists coming after me, functioning as messages to the future of the space.
Produced on the occasion of f project, initiated by Umut Altıntaş. All of the works use black and white photocopying as a material and the group exhibition has traveled to four cities in Turkey.
I related the act of photocopying to sheets of paper becoming notebooks, taking notes, becoming a foundation of something for “left-right-up-down”. The condition of being a page, corners, the diagonal and sideways kinships made me think about words; I tried to make something in which each page could be a site, where words fidgeted and played and could potentially host other states of playing.
Only A Corner is a plaster site-specific intervention, softening the corners where two walls meet to create a concave, softer corner. Only A Corner is an interpretation of the notions of healing, treating, and transforming a space. With the goal of making visible the negotiations between the architecture of a space and production, Only A Corner is an attempt to mark and embody the colossal effort of being present. Gifted to the artist-run-initiative Poşe for as long as they choose to keep it, I hope this work reminds people that artworks mark and permanently alter spaces. In thinking about this artist-initiative in Istanbul and their sacrifices to keep the space open, Only A Corner is a caressing of the space, taking dialogues and situations presented to artist by artists as a departure point.
Invited to a one-day pop-up exhibition at the Istanbul Literature House, I used the brevity of the exhibition time as a departure point. The Literature House has bay windows, which, in the Ottoman context, were used as semi-private spaces that women could use to see more of the world—during the Ottoman times, women’s presence in the public space was limited, to say the least. The apparent benevolence of this bay window triggered me to think about it in terms of the harsher, opaque materiality of cement. The two sculptures are based on drawings of the light coming in from the bay window at two different points of the day—a physically impossible co-existence, made permanent through cement. In the next room were two site-specific wooden sculptural interventions, one concave, one convex, positioned diagonally from each other. The idea was to separate one whole into two complementary halves and place them across from each other to produce a spatial tension, again creating an impossible co-existence. The photograms of ice melting were placed throughout the exhibition to draw upon making permanent fleeting presences and temporalities.
The floor installation is made up of two elements. The plastic rugs, very often used outdoors to prevent slipping, were purchased from an underground pass, which had flooded during the heavy rains a few weeks past. There were marks of the water on the rugs, which we mimicked and repeated using a knife. We mirrored the artificial lighting of exhibition spaces to draw attention to trigger a flickering of the gaze up and down.
My first self-portrait, Shooting the Window is a caption to A Transmitted Dialogue (2019) and From a Wandering Window (2019). Inspired by Clement Cogitore’s Braguino (2017), I wanted to creature an image-based signature—the photograph was taken in the park next to my apartment with a (fake) bear paw on my right hand and looking at the building that I have previously made videos of.
A Transmitted Dialogue (2019) is a sound collage, made from audio recordings by NASA. Cutting and splicing sentences and phrases from various recordings, I wrote a new dialogue. With this dialogue based off of descriptions—while one party can see, the other can’t—, I am interested in finding out when a narrative and a description begin to lose their function.
With From a Wandering Window (2019), I pursue and record the vantage points of a window, which I claim was displaced on its own accord. I begin with a piece of narrative based on the history of a historically and culturally-charged space—a mosque in my neighborhood (Kağıthane, Istanbul) that sits across the river from the relatively new home of the state archives—, “the window frames had fallen, doves had built nests inside, and spider webs had covered the walls.” This window started wandering at this moment of dilapidation in 1974. The first section of From a Wandering Window is a reversal of the bird’s-eye-view, starting at the building of origin. The high-contrast black and white footage aims to underscore the artifice of the image, spliced with short sequences of found footage—a controlled demolishment site and migrating swallow nests in construction sand.
This site-specific installation featuring a zine was produced for the space of Tütün Deposu (Istanbul) on the occasion of the exhibition Up above was fog, down below was a cloud of dust (January-March 2020). Thinking about the historically and socially charged space of Tütün Deposu—currently functioning as a not-for-profit exhibition and event space for culture, arts and critical debate in the city center of Istanbul with a focus on practices which deal with historical and contemporary social issues—, I was drawn to accentuate the columns of the space. Building a connection between the function of the chorus in a tragedy as the conscience and guide to the audience and the columns as an architectural feature that holds and relays the tensions between the different elements of a building, I used some of the hooks and nails that already existed in the space to connect all the columns to each other. Next to each column in a zine that collates visual and text-driven materials that I have collected in the exhibition process. In dialogue with the form of the chorus book, the zines are also hung and lit as to draw attention to the particularities of this space. Imagining a multiplicity of voices reading, interpreting, and performing this zine is central to this work. I have performed a reading of this work on February 14, 2020, encouraging other viewers to interact with the material in their own way.
Each line/lines is the tracing of a horizon line from photographs of catastrophes. The manila folders are the same as those used in the court system in Turkey. Each serigraphy is produced in editions of two, focusing on the loss of information from one imperfect transfer to the other.