Drawing in /on Milas

So lately, I have been working on a presentation on “Color in Space” that I will use in a workshop I’ll be giving at the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (!) at Gediz University, which is a private university in Turkey just a 20-minute drive from where I hope to be moving (eventually), Foça.

One of the things that makes Foça so attractive is that it has been able to retain some of its character as an old Greek fishing village. Local tourism has helped in this – Foça is so close to Izmir that you can live and work in the city and still go out for dinner in Foça and makek it home safe in time to get to bed and then get up for work the next day. But mainly what has preserved Foça is that it is pretty close to Greece – so there’s a large naval base and commando training center there (in case we’re invaded?) that has kept the overdevelopment at bay.

Closer to Bodrum is the village of Çomakdağ, in Milas, which is trying to preserve its local character while generating income from tourism by offering “reenactments” of village life for world-weary “city” dwellers in Bodrum and beyond.

Çomakdağ certainly has character, character comprised of color:

Comakdag painted door

I took the photograph of that door on a group trip to Çomakdağ a few years ago. It’s one of the slides in my presentation on Color in Space. I’m using it as an example of how color is used in traditional architecture. In the case of Çomakdağ, the village houses have painted woodwork inside and out.

In addition to wandering around the village and taking photographs during my visit, I sat with the rest of our group to watch a performance of a village wedding. My friend Annete found this photo and send it to me last week – it’s a picture of me and a budding young artist drawing the dancers. (Notice our matching hiking boots…)

Drawing in Milas

OK, now (in the immortal words of Matt Groening), “GET BACK TO WORK”

 

Princesses at the Castle

Have you had a chance to see my piece “Have Your Photograph Taken as an Ottoman Princess” on exhibit at the Bodrum Castle as part of the 2nd International Bodrum Biennial? Well, you won’t any time soon – despite the fact that my name is still on the list of participating artists on the biennial website and has been on the blog of the exhibit since way back at the beginning of July.

Entrance (1)_sm

 Entrance (2)_sm

Another princess sm

Farm and Business princesses_sm

Bodrum P text sm

The first princess sm

Fist princess x2 sm

 

 

The pictures above are from the “Princesses” very first hours at the castle – and also their very last.

Whether or not their removal was a matter of censorship or just a bureaucratic fuckup is still unclear; however, eventually I intend to get to the bottom of this…

“Ottoman Princess”: 9 Lives

So I suppose I ought to post ‘the princesses’.

These are the 9 sketches that are being transformed into life-sized models as we speak (well, ok, it’s 8 o’clock on a Saturday night, so there is probably no one at Show Reklam working at this very moment – but Monday afternoon I’m supposed to go and check them out, so I guess it’s fair to say that they are almost ready. Inşallah.)

If you’ve been following the project so far, then you know that the original ‘Ottoman Princess’ in this installation was designed based on an Orientalist engraving from the 19th century. We had a little group discussion regarding how to ‘dress up’ the version in this installation, and based on that discussion, she ended up looking like this:

OP3 BB PRINCESS

I particularly like her ruby necklace and her turquiose shalvar. She’s in the same pose as the first engraving I had picked to use as a sketch, but I like her better because she looks to me ‘more realistic’. Just what that means is a bit confusing, because, in fact, she’s a totally made-up character.

But then all identities are ‘made-up’, aren’t they?

This is one of the things that I wanted to point out with this installation.

In fact, one of the most difficult things was making up only eight identities; I had to set a limit somewhere, due to space as well as costs, and 8 seemed like a good number. The idea was to have four of the women wearing a head covering and the other four not. But there are so many reasons why women may ‘cover themselves’ – and so many ways of doing it, from a traditional village headscarf (that you don’t need to be a Muslim woman to wear)

OP4 BB

to full ‘black chador’ – an extreme form of dress for a woman – and something that is not all that common in Turkey – but not all that uncommon, either.

OP8 BB

That extreme form of religious dress is something that a lot of ‘secular’ Muslim women get pretty upset about; the worst fear: that someone (or some government) will force me to do this.

At the opposite extreme, there’s definitely a prejudice that equates an ‘uncovered’ woman as a whore – and that doesn’t make distinctions; in other words, dress like this:

OP9 BB

or like this:

OP7 BB

or like this:

OP1 BB

or like this:

OP6 BB

and you are immoral.

From the pictures, I think you will be able to make the judgement that all these uncovered women are different types – or, better, have different identities; in fact, the same woman may adopt a different ‘persona’ – i.e. ‘identity’ – on a different occasion (opening party? office work? shopping and a movie? a hike in the woods?) that is reflected in what she wears.

The possibiliities are endless; for the installation ‘Have Your Photograph Taken as an Ottoman Princess’, I just tried to pair up ‘covered’ and ‘uncovered’ versions from ‘casual’ to ‘extreme’. This is what I ended up with: all the women above, plus two more:

OP2 BB

and

OP5 BB

And while none of these women are ‘really real’, they are all ‘sort of real’ – or, better ‘could be real’ – they could be on the streets of Bodrum or Ankara or Nevşehir – all places where I’ve lived, and where I’ve seen ‘women like them’.

In just about 2 weeks, it’ll be time to try out these women in public at the Bodrum Castle as pat of the Bodrum Biennial – to give other women (and men, and girls, and boys) the chance to see what they would look like ‘as’ these women.

Of course, just trying on someone else’s clothes (so to speak) doesn’t mean you know what it’s like to ‘be’ them (not to mention that it would be pretty hard to know what it’s like to be someone who isn’t real).

Still… the possibility to see yourself differently – or see someone else differently…

“Ottoman Princess”: Head Shots

More on the process behind my latest installation, “Have Your Photograph Taken as an Ottoman Princess” (with more background below in my previous posts. 

Most of ‘the Princesses’ are now beyond the sketching stage, getting onto the watercolor stage, and a few of them are on the computer already, getting ready to be blown up to life-size.

For that, I was down at the sign shop last week to go over the process, trying to find the best way to blow them up to get the look that I want. Unfortunately, it is not a straightforward process (would that it were!). The ‘Princess’ I’ve named ‘Sunglasses’ (for file-finding purposes) has been the one I’ve been using for try-outs:

OPSG-Z

Zeynep at the sign shop was skeptical about the size of the ‘face opening’, but after she tried it out she agreed that it was not ‘too small’ as she had feared.

Zeynep also thinks the image is fine the way it is, but I think it is a little too ‘cartoony’, when I was really going for ’19th-century engraving’- so that’s going to change.

But more interesting than the printing has been the response to people trying on ‘the princess mask’. Two things stood out there:

  1. I was over a friend’s house, and her gardener was one of the people there who tried on the mask. Next thing I know, I get an email from my friend that has her gardener’s son’s email address, and could I please send the photo to him? Her gardener, who, I am guessing, is not a regular art-gallery patron, is looking forward to visiting the Bodrum Biennial so he can see ‘what this is all about’. (I call that a ‘positive outcome’, and the exhibit doesn’t even start for another month!)
  2.  I was over at the Bodrum Castle to figure out exactly where the installation needs to go (based on, among other considerations, things like where do the tourist groups congregate and where is the ground not ancient paving stone). While I was there, I was introduced to a family, and my friend asked them if anyone wanted to try on the ‘princess mask’. Out of 8 people, the first one to want to try on the mask was the oldest child – who happened to be a boy. His father promptly said that this was ‘not for him’, that it was for his sister. I promptly corrected that: I said the ‘princess’ was not a real person, and that anyone – male or female – could try out ‘being the princess’. For proof, I showed them the following:

OPSG-Ha

Harun as ‘Princess With Incipient Beard’.
Or maybe ‘1970s Rock Star’ ?

For more on ‘the Ottoman Princess’, you can click here to get to the Facebook Page.

A TYPE OF SKETCHING, A SKETCHING OF TYPE

A TYPE OF SKETCHING, A SKETCHING OF TYPE

(Preparations for the installation “Have Your Photograph Taken as an Ottoman Princess”)

So, the goal was to have a bunch of different ‘types’ of women to represent the range of women that you might see on any day on any given street anywhere in Turkey. In fact, you probably wouldn’t see all of them on the same street at the same time, but you might; I’ve seen all these ‘types’ myself, so I know.

OP desktop1

Let’s be clear here: There’s a difference between ‘archetype’ and ‘stereotype’. I really started to notice that when I began working on the sketches in more detail, and felt that there was a certain direction I should be going in – more accurately, that there was a certain direction I shouldn’t be going in. The only difference between ‘archetype’ and ‘stereotype’ might be that an archetype has no negative connotations and a stereotype does. I certainly don’t want to be a stereotype. The problem is how to tell one from the other. I wanted make sure that each ‘princess’ was a different type without being a stereotype, but how? And why?

I’ll open up these 2 topics in a minute, but first, to quickly address the issues of ‘why “princess”?‘ and ‘why “Ottoman” Princess?’:

  1. The ‘Princess’ (and certainly not the Turkish ‘prenses’) in ‘Ottoman Princess’ does not refer to a member of a royal family, it refers to ‘what we call little girls’. It suggests a lot of things, and I hope here it evokes two opposite ideas: first, the idea of being ‘special and privileged’ and second, the idea of being ‘frail and in need of protection’. In either case, the ‘princess’ is NOT real. And it’s important to realize that ALL THE PRINCESSES ARE BASED ON REAL WOMEN, BUT NONE OF THEM ARE REAL WOMEN.
  2. The ‘Ottoman’ (‘Osmanlı’- from the ‘Royal House of Osman’) in ‘Ottoman Princess’ is not connected with any contemporary sociopolitical effort to distinguish between ‘Ottomans’ and ‘Turks’. The idea to use the image of a 19th-century ‘Ottoman’ woman along with 21st-century ‘Turkish’ women came from the fact that the original engravings of Ottoman women were NOT images of REAL women: they were images of a Western fantasy of Eastern women; in other words, they were filled with ‘ideas’ about ‘others’: They were saying (in a visual language), ‘THIS WOMAN IS SOMEONE WHO I AM NOT.’

So, now that that’s out there, back to the questions of why I want to present images of ‘not-stereotypes’ and how I am going to do it.

OP1   OP78

Why: because (as the 19th-century Western male artists and publishers of ‘Ottoman Princesses’ probably knew), it’s easy to dismiss someone who is ‘other’ (read: inferior, mistaken). It is less easy to step into their shoes (or in the case of my installation, into their clothes) and try to see what it is that you have in common with them, try to understand them.  I think that is important, but I don’t think it’s easy; heck, I don’t understand all the princesses, and I’m the one making them!

Interestingly, the PROCESS of making them is helping me to understand them. I wonder if this is what a novel-writer goes through when s/he invents a character. I am sitting with these sketches on my work table, and I am trying to understand, ‘WHO IS THIS WOMAN?’

One princess seems to ‘want’ to have her hair coiffed up (Trying to impress someone? Or forced into a social role?), another has short hair (Easier to handle? Oh, my god, is she a lesbian with a buzz cut??),  a couple of princesses have cell phones in their hands (at the moment; I’m still not sure if this ubiquitous  21st-century is going to be replaced with something else), and one has got a garden tool and some kind of vegetable (at least she will;  or maybe she’ll be holding some weeds. I can’t decide yet).

OP 23

Interestingly, the easiest woman for me to draw has been the one who is covered in black from head to toe. It’s easier for me, because I don’t have to decide what she’s got on underneath; I don’t need to know if she’s wearing high heels or sneakers (or high-heeled sneakers), a high-buttoned blouse or a sleeveless t-shirt… In short, she’s the ‘princess’ I least understand. She’s also the one I LEAST want to be. I must admit, I am having a hard time feeling any empathy for her. I don’ particularly like her – which is strange to say, because I’ve already admitted that I don’t really know her. If I don’t know her, how can I say I don’t like her?

And there in a nutshell is what this is about.

(I’ll be posting more on this project here. If you’re interested, be sure to “follow’ this blog. You can also “follow” the Ottoman Princess blog to see what happens after the exhibit opens (‘more to come’), and sign up to the Ottoman Princess facebook page for all types of related information (which you can add to as well).

Ottoman Princess : The Blog

Update: My latest installation – “Have Your Photograph Taken as an Ottoman Princess” – will be included in the upcoming Bodrum Biennial opening on 12 September.

In addition to information about the project (in Turkish and English), the Ottoman Princess blog will post news about violence against women in general (unfortunately there is a lot of that) as well as artwork addressing the issue. (Since there appears to be more bad news than good news, I would particularly welcome contributions of good news from anyone who has any. The best way to pass on this news is by joining the Ottoman Princess facebook page (in Turkish and English) and posting there, and I’ll repost to the blog.)

People who visit the exhibition and have their photos taken as an Ottoman Princess will also be able to post them on the facebook page, and I’ll repost to the blog, so that they’ll form a running exhibition catalog.

Finally… Since I try to give a high priority to ‘demystifying’ what it is that artists do, I’ll try to post ongoing information about the process of putting together the exhibition. For the background information on the exhibition, you can go to the Indiegogo Ottoman Princess page. The project is already funded (thanks to all who donated), but the site will be up through the 15th of August, which is the official end of the fundraising campaign, and it has the most detailed information to date.

OP5Ottoman Princess 2

I’ll be posting here on this blog, so please ‘follow’ if you want to get the updates on the proect, and then I’ll either be linking or reposting to the Ottoman Princess (have to get the ‘technical details’ worked out on that).

And as they say somewhere, ‘Thank you for your interest.’

Arts Administration (Readying the Ottoman Princess)

Arts Administration (Readying the Ottoman Princess)

OP Louis-Dupre-Helene full princess

I think the blues have won.
No, I don’t mean I’m sad: I mean the feedback from Facebook about which image would make the best Ottoman Princess was leaning to the lady above. (In the final version, I’ll incorporate some yellow and red into the scarf around her waist, and the style will be more like the red-and-yellow version that was the second choice.)

That’s going to wait a bit, though, because of the rather less thrilling and too time-consuming task of getting ready for ‘the arrival of the princess(es)’ – in other words, getting the last details re: the costs of getting 9 figures produced for my installation at the Bodrum Bienial this fall – and more imporantly, getting the project on the Indiegogo web site for funding. (Look for ‘Ottoman Princess.)

The piece is something I designed several years ago in response to a particularly heinous court decision that took jail time off the sentence of a man convicted of murdering his wife; apparently, she had ‘provoked’ him by going into town dressed in jeans.

All the details of the project will be on the Indiegogo web site, and I’ll have more details here as well – hopefully by next Wednesday (July 15).

In the meantime, I’ll just leave you with images of 2 of the ‘perks’ I’m giving away to people who contribute to the project. (They are both printed invitations from former exhibitions of mine – not ‘original’ art – although there will be some of that, too – but I thnk they’ll look rather nice framed (if I do say so myself), and they’ll be’signed by the artist’ – that’s moi.

OP Handmade Dreams

Above, a detail from a mixed-media piece that was exhibited at the Ankara Museum of Painting and Sculpture (and now owned by a very nice couple from southern France),

Below, a detali from another mixed-media piece that was exhibited at the Soyut Gallery in Ankara (and if I remember correctly, it is now in the gallery’s ‘collection’)

OP My Landscapes

Medium Practice (For Ayni)

This post is for Ayni, who liked my little notebooks and wanted to know if she could buy something and have me send it to the Netherlands.

Besides just being a wonderful person, Ayni will always have a place in my heart for introducing me to someone who could ask me “In what medium do you realize your practice?” with a straight face.

So, to answer that question in a size that will fit in an (albeit large) envelope:

2000 women installation shot

Not a great photo, but those are 2000 watercolor drawings of nudes from my installation ‘2000 Women’. Can Özgün of the British Council wanted me to do something special just for him – with the excuse that my other installation ‘Nü-Nar’ (Nude-Pomegranate) wouldn’t ‘fill the gallery space.’

Antalya nunar installation

I redid the ‘Nu-Nar’ installation in Antalya (sorry – another bad photo) – and I think it shows that Mr. Özgün was wrong about the space, but right about getting me to do some more work.

What can I say? I guess I am just one of those artists that needs to have a deadline.

By the way, I ‘recycled’ the ‘Nars’ for an installation called ‘Manav’ (Grocery) done in an empty shop that used to be – ta da – a grocery.

Manav (Deborah Semel Demirtaş)

I had to sew them all together to get them to stand up, but I could rip a couple of stitches and pop one in an envelope for you to hang up, Ayni.

Or, if you want something else to hang up, how ’bout a mouse?

super fare

Or maybe a bird?

pembe kus

Both of these were from an installation I did a few years back.

Ayna Bahce-Filmler_agactaki kuslar (Garden Filmstrips_Birds in Trees)

So, in what medium do I realize my practice? Trees?

Actually, I’ve got a couple of really nice sculptures made from trees, with a little rebar, but they wouldn’t fit in an envelope.

But I could send you a couple of little drawings of some cotton pickers…

Soke Pamuk toplayanlar 1

but you’ll have to get your own painting easel to display them on.

I suppose you could just hang them on a wall, like a ‘regular’ drawing…
Swimming

ishik

Although I’ve been told that these are ‘too dark’ to appeal to people.

What people, I wonder?

(Oh, and as far as medium practice goes, these ‘regular’ drawings are oil pastels that started out as photographs that I digitized and then altered in photoshop and then used the altered photos as sketches that I printed out on drawing paper and drew on top of. FYI.)

Lots of practice.

Kisses,

Deborah

Water Collages

Water collage 1

So, here we are, quite in the Throes of Summer, and my plans for hanging out in the ‘outdoor section of my studio’ and working on more of the Water Paintings have been thwarted by a. computer problems; b. developing a project for the ‘2015 Bodrum Biennial’; c. doing menial labour to raise funds in re: ‘a’; and d. covering my large outdoor drawing table with mounds of cut tiles for a ‘concrete camouflage’ home intervention, which makes it rather impossible to start any paintings at this time..

As an all-purpose solution, I embarked on a few ‘Water Collages’ – which I can work on comfortably in the ‘indoor section of my studio’ – while listening to the radio and avoiding ‘c’ from the above list.

The paper is all ‘leftovers’ – the final collages are about 12 inches (30 cm).
Who knew there was so much blue paper in the world?

Water collage 2

Wisteria Books

So, I made these books last month, see?

little wc books 3 blittle wc books 3 f

Back when the wisteria was in full bloom here in Bodrum.

Here we call it “Mor Salkım” – in other words, “Hanging Purple”.

Boy, it was just hanging all over – I even followed Fadime’s advice and made some Wisteria Jam –

believe it, or not.

little wc books 4 flittle wc books 4 b

I just collected a bunch from my friend’s wisteria vine – which I sat in front of all day drawing,

back on one of the first nice days of spring/summer.

And I had such a good time making these little notebooks (fronts, backs, and in-betweens),
I thought I’d make some more.

So I went down to the seaside to draw.

little wc books 1 f little wc books 2 b little wc books 2 f

That was back just before ‘the season’ started.

That is the most deceptive time of year.
So many of us out there, artists, trying to figure out ‘what to make to sell to the tourists.’Frankly, I make some pretty nice stuff. But as any successful salesperson will tell you,
‘A good product is not enough.’

And as I could tell you, (and often have, probably), I lack the ‘salesman gene’. (I mean, check out
my Etsy Shop; no, wait: I haven’t gotten around to maintaining that since… wait, I’m thinking, since…)

Well, I guess I was just having such a good time making these little books, and I thought they were

SO NICE,

that I just ‘plum forgot’ that I’d likely never be able to sell them – or at least not at a price that
would make it worth my while to sit down and make ’em as ‘business’. Fun is fun, and making a dozen or so
little notebooks for no money is fun; but making like a hundred or so? No Fun.

So, now, I’ve got these little notebooks, see?

little digiprint notebooks 1

And I’ been thinkin’, I ain’t gonna make any more of them, see?

little digiprint notebooks 2

So – should I give them away as presents? (Could do…)
Or should they get themselves turned into an installation, somehow? (Could do…)

If I sent ya a notebook, would you write in it? (Maybe…)
Maybe even send it back to me so I could read it? (Maybe…)

Hmmm….