Palimpsest vs Collage

How many years ago now was it that the aesthetic theoretician Richard Woodfield referred to me as a ‘palimpsest’ artist? Close to 20. At the time, I liked the analysis; it gave me something new to think about, since the idea of my work being constructed of layer upon semi-transparent layer rang true.

Nowadays, I’d have to say my work is more like collage, figuratively as well as literally. This is because even though my work involves putting together pre-existing elements that, like the layers of sediment in a geological core sample, were created at different times, I’m manipulating these elements at the same time. 

How much time depends upon the piece. Of the pieces posted here, the fasted came together in an afternoon’s work – if you don’t count the time it originally took to create the pieces that were already on hand –  which goes back to sometime around 2004, when I went to China and came back with ‘fish paper’ and a horsehair brush – or the time between the time the first piece was produced and the time it ended up in a collage.

Last month, I saw the fruits of some of my long-term labour (and the labour of numerous others), with the first edition of the Foça International Archaeological and Cultural Heritage Film Days – a project which, I realised while in the midst of it, is a type of collage: Putting together pre-existing elements to create some kind of a coherent whole that is more than – or, rather, different from – the sum of its parts.

In contrast to the collages you’re viewing here, Foça Film Days was put together by ‘mining’ the creative products of a lot of other people, mostly filmmakers. The collages I’ve photographed (alas, badly) and posted here were put together by ‘mining’ the paper detritus of my own past, things I saved for one reason or another. (If one day or another you see a strange little griffon head peeking out of a collage, it will be because I saved a copy of the Foça Film Days program and put it to good use.)

“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”

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

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