Scissors and Sunrises: Waxing Philosophical at 6 a.m. (…ok, 7).

DSCN0632So those are the scissors in question. Harun (husband) found them at his fishing spot. We decided that Omer probably worked as a garment worker in Istanbul until he managed to save up enough money to pay a smuggler’s fee to get him from Turkey to Greece (more specifically, Foça to Mytilene).

These things happen between sunset and sunrise, when you and I are normally asleep.

For months now those scissors have been sitting in a fruit basket (along with an air conditioning remote control and a couple bars of soap – the remote control is ours, but I think the soap came from Omer); they’ve come in handy to snip the ends off things. I guess we’re not doing that badly.

That is my example of “documentary photography”.

I would have liked to explain that to some students – 2, 3 – that showed up for a workshop last weekend. “Documenting Foça: Shooting the archaeological and cultural heritage of Foça”. For an exhibit to be featured during “Foça Film Days” – “a celebration of the archaeology and cultural heritage that has come down to us today in Foça, Turkey, and the world.”

You can picture it, I’m sure: Where the Temple of Athena once stood, the mournful Ottoman Cemetery that most residents let alone tourists have never visited… Suffice it to say, Omer’s scissors will not be included in the exhibit.

And now we have here some examples of “aesthetic photography”: Last night’s sunset and this morning’s sunrise – the “before” and “after” of the crossings of Omer’s brethren. For both the sunset and sunrise, the first image represents “what the camera saw” when I was supposedly not manipulating the image – “supposedly”, because (obviously!) I was the one who framed the image  – and the second is the image that was more close to what I was actually seeing, but which I had to manipulate the camera into allowing me to reproduce.

So, there you have it.  The manipulation of reality to realise a vision.

DSCN0640Foça Sunset (camera vision)

 

DSCN0643Foça Sunset (Deborah vision)

 

DSCN0644Foça Sunrise (camera vision)

 

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Foça Sunset (Deborah vision)

xoxo
d

 

 

“Karne” (Report Card

Btw Foça and Yeni Foça
Half-finished Prismacolor sketch of the sea, just north of Foça

Well, all the world’s school children are onto their summer holidays after getting their report cards for the year. In Turkey, the last day of school is the much-anticipated moment when your kids carry home their “karne” and parents celebrate the accomplishments of their offspring.

I have well passed the age when report cards were a thing of pride (mostly) or fear (math, usually). But last week, after all the world’s school children were already involved with swimming and soccer (or sowing and reaping, depending on your demographics), the thought crossed my mind that it might do to write myself my own report card, going back to my List of Ideas and checking to see how well the implemenation was going. Think of it as a mid-term “progress report” for 2017/2018, rather than an end-of-term final appraisal, because, as that great artist Yogi Berra once said, “It’s not over ’til it’s over.” ( Or as I said yesterday, “I’m not dead yet.”)

Report Card – Deborah Semel Demirtaş – 2017/2018

1. Sitting down in my studio and doing some more oil pastels of people in the water, using the photos I took in Georgia, Portugal, and the Turkish Mediterranean coast as sketches. NO PROGRESS. (Studio is a mess, greenhouse effect is making it more than a little unbearably hot… but I did manage to clear enough space to sew me up some summer clothing to make the heat a little less oppresive. As they say, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the studio!”)

2. Writing and illustrating a children’s book about “The Adventures of Yellow Dog”. In it, the erstwhile Yaprak is transformed into a doggie who had to leave her home for reasons she is too young to understand, but ends up making friends with a chicken and learning to swim. AND 2a, the sequel, “Yellow Dog and Her Friends”, in which Yellow Dog and her chicken-friend, over much objection from their families, end up visiting one another at their respective homes – and nobody gets eaten. PROGRESS. (Okay, this is, admittedly, theoretical progress – meaning I’ve decided that Yellow Dog’s adventures might be more interesting as an animated film than in book form. That’s as far as I’ve got.)

3. Going back and doing some large (for me) oil-stick drawings like the ones in the “swimmer” series I had started a few years ago and then had to abandon because “the princesses” had taken over my “outdoor studio” so there was no room to work out there anymore. NO PROGRESS. (I’ve got a whole lot of paper cut to size, but this has been just another thing that I haven’t gotten around to. For the reason why, see No. 4 below.)

4. A “film project”. (I have this “wild hare” of an idea to organize a festival, or something, of films on “cultural heritage”… please don’t steal this one…) PROGRESS.  (If there’s a whole lot of “no progress” on anything else on my list, this must be the reason why.)

FFG LOGO web

5. Paint some more wooden furniture. (This is not as easy as it sounds – if you place the emphasis on “wooden” – because everything these days seems to be made of pressboard and the like. Boo-hoo.) PROGRESS. (I did one. For proof, see the  photo of the “Camouflage Table” below; bet you have a hard time finding the table leg… designed to blend in with the flagstone…)

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6. Continue making temporary trash sculptures. (This one should be pretty easy; there’s a lot of trash out there.) PROGRESS. (But since I can’t find any pictures, you’ll just have to take my word for it. And by the way, there’s still a lot of trash out there.)

7. Something to do with food! (I’m not there yet…) PROGRESS. (Still not there yet, but undoubtedly there will be some food-related cultural heritage at the 1st Foça International Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Film Days…)

8. An illustrated travel book… NO PROGRESS. (But today I’m going to Kos, with a box of Prismacolors in my backpack and a painter-friend, who might be a good influence on me… or maybe not; we’ll probably just drink a lot of frappes and eat pig.)

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(By Yasemin the Art Teacher – who cannot be guaranteed to be a good influence.)

9. Painting a mural on the top row of kitchen cupboards. (This was agreed with my husband before we got new kitchen cupboards. The choice was not between whether to paint or not, but between what to paint: 1. Beach scene; 2. Abstract painting of the vastness of the universe, with lots of gold leaf and light blue; 3. Tropical paradise. And the winner is… “3, Tropical Paradise”! NO PROGRESS. (But white looks good, too… )

10. Two paintings (oil stick on plywood, 40x40cm, of flower blossoms on a mainly black background with a lot of line drawing done in gold leaf) “commissioned” by my husband in return for making him not hang a painting in a spot that I didn’t want it to be hung in. PROGRESS(One is finished and hung on the wall. One is progress, isn’t it?)

 

There.
A list of 10.
A nice, round number.
“Top 10 Ideas From Amongst Which At Least 1 Must Be Chosen Before Another Idea Is Had”

Art+Fortunes=Art Fortunes

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A while back I wrote my list of 10 ideas. Of course, as soon as I posted it, I realized that I had left one out. And it was a really important one, too. It involved the next step in an ongoing project of recycling paper by using it in collages and then using the collages to tell fortunes. It even had a name: Art Fortunes.

‘Reading the collages’ had become a really nice way of interacting with people over art. Imagine waiting on line to get into the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and when you finally got up to the window to make your contribution, you were told you had to go around ‘two by two’, and then they paired you up with a total stranger and said to you, “Okay, now go look at the art – and talk about it.” That’s sort of what Art Fortunes is like.

Art Fortunes on Indiegogo

I loved Art Fortunes so much I decided that the next step was to ‘spread the love’. So I put together an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to reproduce the collages as prints and get them out there to people who wanted them (which means, partly “giving” them away as “perks” to “supporters” of “the Art Fortunes Indiegogo Campaign”). I’m even making a handy dandy little ‘User’s Guide’ to explain a bit about the cards and how to ue them to tell fortunes.

Believe me, it’s not at all complicated like Tarot Cards or anything else where you’d have to have some special fortune-telling skills or anything – although I find dressing up in a bit of ‘gypsy chic’ does help the mood along…

hittites

The ‘User’s Guide’ is pretty basic, too. For example: “This card (above) combines a sketch of a Hittite idol with a picture of a detail from a mixed-media painting that sort of looks like a spine, or maybe a bug. Note the olive tree fragments and ‘feathers’. A celebration of flora and fauna?”

Also, I put together a little video so you could see ‘a reading in progress’. Obviously, every one is different, because every person is different; it’s really fascinating (to me) to see how people get into looking at the pictures and making up stories to go along with them. In fact, as luck would have it, on an ‘involvement scale’ of 1 to 10, (with 1 being ‘being polite, but trying to get this over with as quickly as possible’ and 10 being ‘hey, I know you’ve got 3 more people sitting waiting to have their Art Fortunes told, but heck, I wanna keep looking at the pictures, and I can tell way better stories than you, anyway, and I think that those feathers symbolize pens, so that means that I am going to get a letter from someone very soon, and, also, you see that that one person has two heads? well that means…”), the person in the video with me was kind of a ‘1’.

If you want to find out more (and I hope you do), you can click on the link below, and it will take you down the rabbit hole and into the land of

Art Fortunes on Indiegogo

Have Fun!!!

 

 

 

Heads UP!

Blog reader, be(a)ware:

Next week (god willing and the creek don’t rise) I’ll be launching an Indiegogo campaign to fund printing of a limited edition of ‘Art Fortunes’.

For those of you who missed them, here (and here) are links to some posts explaining the ‘project’ (‘work’), which involves making collages and sharing interpretations of them through ‘readings’ – a series of one-on-one relationships that involve an art maker (me), art objects (the collages), and an audience (a person seeking to have their fortune told). In other words, “Art Fortunes” looks like fortunetelling, but it’s also art!

While I’m continuing periodic ‘readings’, I’m also expanding the project/work to include a limited edition of 60 “decks” of 52 “Art Fortunes” cards printed from the original collages. I’ll post the link to the Indiegogo campaign when I have it so you can check it out and share it with others. In the meantime, if you’ve got any questions, just drop me a line…

Art Fortunes cards in box

The Zen of Graphic Design… NOT.

Art Fortunes cards in box

Well, we’re into March now, so the house is warming up a bit, making it possible to work in the studio without freezing even if I don’t turn on the electric heater. So why aren’t I in there working on one or more of the “10 ideas“?

I blame it on Graphic Design.

That seems to be the area in which I’ve been expending my energies these days, working on everything from designing posters for things that are not on my List of 10 (because not everything is “a project”) to designing a web site for one of the items that is (because some things are “projects”, whether we shy away from calling them so or not).

Yesterday I had the pleasure  of making a prototype box for the deck of “Art Fortunes” and a “User’s Guide” to accompany it – both of which will be available shortly through Indiegogo (god willing and the creek don’t rise – or as Aziz Nesin would say, “inşallah”).

Perhaps “pleasure” is not the right word; no, it is definitely not the right word.

I have yet to find the Zen of “cut, paste, and endlessly repeat”. I am no Seth Godin, and marketing tasks – yes, Priscilla, design is a marketing task – are just that – “tasks“. I would like to think of each and every one of them as just another “downward dog” on my way to “savasana” – but I haven’t gotten there yet.

Maybe I should play that yoga tape instead of refilling my coffee…

B+w9-12

 

Pick a card.

I should be doing my morning yoga, but I left my telephone/timer downstairs, so I decided I would write to you instead. (I am trying to get into a routine of yoga every morning or every other morning; I’ve gotten from 5 minutes up to 15 minutes, and I NEED to do some this morning because yesterday morning was already the “other” morning.)

Well. Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I can post you three pictures – you can pretend they are the three cards that you picked when I read your Art Fortune. Or, if you don’t like these three, and you’re close enough and free enough to get to Foça this Wednesday or Friday afternoon, you can pick your own cards. It only takes about 5 minutes, it’s absolutely free (unless you want to buy me a beer or a coffee or support some other “worthy cause”), and best of all, we get to have a conversation.

Now, let’s pretend:

4kazanThis card is “The Four Cauldrons”. It looks like you’re running from here to there, trying to carry something forward while negotiating with others who are also trying to do the same. But as you can see, there’s not much room to negotiate in.

 

yolculukThis card is “Travel”. In fact, part of you would rather just take off with your hubby to some Mediterranean shore (Oh, wait: You live on one!)

 

dengeWhat the future appears to hold is this card, “Balance”.
(Unfortunately, it was really me who picked the cards, and it is very hard to interpret your own fortune. Maybe you can help me out…)

8 Women Around Town

Cases with mom and daughter

So, I do remember reading in Howard Becker’s “Art Worlds” how unlike musicians, visual artists don’t have the same luxury of immediate feedback for their work. For example, we don’t perform our work and get applause (or whinging) every three minutes like rock and roll bands. Less frequently, and less immediately, we may have our work written about by critics or sold in galleries, which may give us some measure of our level of success in a particular “artworld”; however, the reviews may just reflect how successfully we conform to certain time-bound expectations regarding what art is supposed to be, and the sales may be more a reflection of the current state of stock-market or interest-rate returns than of any emotional or intellectual connection with “the work itself”.

One nice thing about my “women” – i.e., the “try-me-on statues” that I made for my installation “Have Your Photograph Taken as an Ottoman Princess”, which were then recycled into the installation “8 Cases”, and which are currently hanging about various locations around Foça and its environs – is that I have had opportunities for obtaining immediate feedback by watching people interact with these figures in one way or another.

Not that there always is any interaction. I have seen people walk right past “the women” without even noticing they are there – which is kind of sad, because they are life-size figures, placed in the immediate field of vision of pedestrians, so not even noticing them is like not even noticing other “real” people out on the street with you – and that to me is really sad.

8 vaka farmer

Noticing, however, is not exactly interacting, and there are quite a lot of people who look up or turn their head towards one of “the women”, only to immediately look back down or turn their head away – much as you might do after accidentally making eye contact with a stranger walking towards you from the opposite direction.

Then there are the people who couldn’t wait to “play pretend”; they went running up behind a figure to stick their own face into the appropriate empty space and have their friends click away – taking a “selfie” was kind of out of the question (although the thought itself raises interesting philosophical questions about identity…) – without even noticing the text in the back.

Oh, did I mention there’s text on the back of each of the figures? In fact, I have the dilemma of explaining this, so you understand the installation, or not explaining it, so as not to ruin the experience. I guess this is where I need to say “Spoiler Alert”.

8 vaka fashionistas

“Spoiler Alert”:

Each figure represents a case in which a woman was murdered by her husband, who was tried and sentenced for his crime, only to have a judge reduce the sentence on the grounds of “unjust provocation”. (This is supposed to mean someone who is “provoked into a crime due to an unjust act”, and an example of this might be a woman who kills her husband who is beating her for the umpteenth time – rather than, for example, a man who kills his wife because she “swore at and cheated on him” – which is along the lines of the types of “provocation” considered in the “Eight Cases” described in my installation.)

Now, it has been suggested that it might be more effective to put the text on the front rather than the back of the figures, and it has been noted that most people who have their photo taken are doing it because it is fun: Well, more power to them! It is definitely fun to try on a different identity from time to time.

Interestingly, I might add, although there are eight different women you can “be”, from my observations, I’d say that somewhere between one-half and one-third of the time, people want to “be” the “sexy lady in black” (so much for our objections to the objectification of women), with the next-most-popular type being “the tourist”, followed by “the farmer”. Some adventurous “modern” folk (more men than women) have tried out the “Islamic fundamentalist”, and I’ve noticed a few girls pretending to be “the businesswoman”. Surprisingly, I don’t recall very many people wanting to be a “student” or anyone at all wanting to be a “fashionista”, either with or without a headscarf. In fact, the fashionistas are my personal favourites, because they’re the most colourful. But my most favourite part of the installation is when I get to watch someone saying to her friends, “Hey, wait a minute; did you read this?”…

8 vaka sexy lady islamic fundamentalistAdmittedly, that probably only happens about a third of the time, but it’s worth waiting for, to see the expression on the face of a person that has just had something sink into their brain. If the text were on the front, sure, more people would read it, but I don’t think anyone would want to “play pretend” anymore. I can’t imagine people wanting to “be” a murder victim…

So, there you have it. If you want to “play pretend”, you can “be” a “sexy lady” or an “Islamic fundamentalist” in Eski Foça in front of the studio of Şenay and Hatice (who noted that while these two might be the most extreme, they also are the ones likely to attract the most attention) – it’s on the street near the parking lot behind the archaeological site and the fish market. If you want to “be” a “tourist” or a “student”, you need to go into the Foça Municipality’s Reha Midilli Cultural Centre (or just walk by on a weekend, if the weather’s okay and the staff remember to put them outside). You can go to the Iraz’ca Taş Cafe on the Marseilles Plaza in Eski Foça to be a “fashionista” (and I noticed that someone put a table behind one of them to make life easier for the littlest icon-wannabees).  Finally, if you are tooling around the villages, you will find a “businesswoman” outside Yağcı in Kozbeyli and a “farmer” (appropriately) in front of the Dirim Farm shop in Bağarası (where you’ll also find jams and other yummy things to eat, and maybe even Öngör, the woman who runs both these establishments).

And, if you happen to be heading in the direction of any of these places in the company of friends who haven’t read about the “Eight Cases” (or the “Ottoman Princess”), you can find out just how much they’re paying attention…

8 vaka businesswoman

 

 

Bye-Bye Betty

Image result for betty woodman

What an inspiration this woman was! Bright and colorful, she pretty much did what my old art-school professor Peter Marcus told us we should do: “Make them big, do it in color, and have 100 by Friday.”

Image result for betty woodman

I love Betty Woodman’s work because it is a hybrid of art and craft that makes a place special. Unfortunately, what reminded me of how much I love her work was coming across her obituary in the New York Times a couple of days ago. It was nice to learn that she lived to the ripe old age of 87, and it was interesting to learn that she was the first living female artist to be given a retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Image result for betty woodman

The Ming Sisters, Betty Woodman (American, born Norwalk, Connecticut, 1930), Glazed earthenware, epoxy resin, lacquer and paint

Her work makes me think of Bonnard and Matisse. It also makes me want to make something really big to decorate my house. I’m thinking of something practical, maybe a wall hanging to keep the bedroom just a little big warmer….

For more on Betty Woodman, here is a link to a very interesting piece written on the occasion of her show in Italy last year, and to the obit that appeared in the NYT.

Bye-Bye Betty.
R.I.P. Jan 2, 2018

 

 

 

Ball of Confusion

Spiral 2

Remember my post “Top 10 Ideas From Amongst Which At Least 1 Must Be Chosen Before Another Idea is Had” ? Well, I was working on one of them last night, and it so spiralled out of control beyond my wildest expectations that my head became one big, giant “Ball of Confusion”!

I tossed and turned until I found the answer: “Throw the I Ching!”

I know, I know; that’s so New Age (yuck), or so very Sixties (before my time), and it’s not really an answer.

Whatever.

I find the I Ching is actually very good at providing me with answers, albeit of the obscure kind, like the ones I provide when I read my Art Fortunes. (Note to myself: List of Ideas Goes to 11.)

In this case, the interpretation I can bring to my I Ching reading is this: “Shut up and get back to work.”

Hmm. For that bit of advice, I suppose I could have just called my mother.

Spiral 1