Yes, it’s December, and since there is relatively no Christmas and even less Hannukah here in Foça, it’s time to get into the New Year’s spirit, which means…
Resolutions! Now is the perfect time to decide to (as Akbar and Jeff used to say) get back to work!
And what better way to procrastinate getting back to work than designing new business cards!
My first choice was this image (above) from an installation that was part of an exhibit I organized around 10 years ago called “Art Windows”. The exhibit was held in vacant shops in Turgutreis (Bodrum, Turkey), which, sadly, accounted for a depressingly large percentage of the downtown real estate. If I remember right, we had about 20 shops lend us their empty spaces to fill with paintings, sculptures, etc. At the opening, we basically walked around town with the mayor, a city-council member, and all of the local press, as if we were tourists traipsing around with a tour guide. The local tv station showed a clip of the event all summer long, making it some of the cheapest publicity the town had ever seen. And the artwork looked good, I must say. My piece was an installation that occupied an empty shop that was once a grocers and was still filled with dusty jars of fruit preserves and tomato and pepper paste.
As far as these cards go, I’m pretty much sure I need that Dewey quote there, since I want to focus on projects involving art and education. I’m also pretty sure I want something multi-media – wouldn’t want anyone to mistake me for “just” a painter… When I took a browse through some old flash drives, I found this:
Evoking curiosity is a good thing, so I don’t mind that it might be hard to tell from the pic that this is a picture of a group weaving project. Anyone who passed by the “Çatal Ada Art, Culture and Environment” association’s stall at the second-hand market in Turgutreis was invited to do a little weaving. While the other charities were selling used clothing, we tried to have a different art project every week – mainly for kids, but we had adults interested, too. In fact, since we were close to Milas, a big carpet center, I shouldn’t have been surprised when one of the women at the market just took over the project… constructed from scrap fabrics from my brother-in-law’s old workplace. “A fun afternoon was had by all.”
The next choice for cards is from an afternoon of fun with my husband on Çatal Ada, the little island off of Turgutreis that our association got our name from. This time I had tagged along with Harun on a fishing expedition, and as usual, I found something to keep me occupied. Since I hadn’t brought my drawing kit with me, I ended up “drawing” with the trash I found on the island. Basically, I sewed a necklace out of it. (We wouldn’t have enough room in our little boat to have taken it back to the mainland and disposed of it properly, so I figured I’d at least string it all together so it wouldn’t blow away and it would be easy enough for someone with a bigger boat to haul back. I am happy to say, that that is exactly what happened.)
The next choice is from the latest work I’ve done, which was exhibited in a group show in Foça (Izmir) last month. It’s a double exposure (i.e., it’s a Photoshopped version) of an article of clothing that had washed up on the shore outside Foça – along with a lot of other clothing, a torn life vest, and a shredded rubber boat of the kind used by migrants attempting to cross the Aegean from Turkey to Europe. I took the original photos during another fishing expedition with Harun. (I’ve been tagging along much more rarely, and these days I tend to take a camera instead of drawing supplies.) I can’t really put into words the feeling that I had that day (“perverse fascination” seems to come closest, “obsession” might do) – which I guess is why I do visual rather than some other type of art. I spent a long time photographing the various articles of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing that had washed up and been caked with sand, and when I was done, I packed up some of the items in a plastic bag I found lying there and took them home. I had no idea what I was going to do with them, but I just couldn’t leave them there. Somehow, it just didn’t seem right.
The group exhibit in Foça was an interesting experience, because when we were hanging up the work we got into a discussion about how to “hang” the work appropriately so it could be looked at in its best light as a distinct work of art. I had a hard time explaining that I sort of have a problem with all that lies behind that assumption in the first place, and so I sort of gave up – but I was still insistent that the “quadruptych” of 4 photos didn’t need to be on a white wall, that the glass-brick wall of the space was just fine by me. That led to ensuing discussions over the course of the week-long exhibit about whether or not I was making a mistake… and it also led to an experiment on my part whereby mid-week I added a low table on which the washed and folded articles of clothing from the photos were displayed. I’m not sure whether or not turning the work into an installation added anything or not – a discussion with one visitor to the exhibit led me to suspect it might have even taken something away.
I’d actually done a version of the card with a black border rather than a white border first –
and it’s certainly easier to see it here (against the white page), although the white border looks (somewhat) more like a “traditional” business card.
The other card options are more variations on the “pomegranate” theme,
the last one being without Mr. Dewey’s quote. (Did you know he founded the New School of Social Research in NY? I didn’t. Research.
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:
This 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.
This 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!)
What 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…)
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.
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”.
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?”…
Admittedly, 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…
Hey, I like that I am using a template of an old blog post for this post about recycling…
Or is it refurbishing? More like refurnishing…
It has been several months since the movers carted our stuff out of our place in Bodrum and up to our place in Foça. (Well, geographically up , but then physically down – the three levels from our street to our garden.)
Although most things have long since been put in place – up from the garden and into the house – there is still “the ex-furniture issue” – also known as “the question of furniture reincarnation”, i.e. how to incorporate the remains of the Yerleşim Cafe into our new abode. (FYI, the Yerleşim Cafe brought installation art and espresso to Turgutreis way back when, but I just tried googling it and it apparently no longer exists.)
In previous incarnations the cafe’s kitchen counter/bookcase was cut up into garden furniture and end tables, among other things, and the cafe’s tables became, well, tables – with the only transformtion being accomplished with another layer of paint.
In this incarnation, the tables have once again become tables – but they’ve been snazzed up thanks to my new favorite possession, an electric sander. Also, in this life, they have titles!
Here’s “Islands on the Map”, followed by “Tide’s Turning”…
If you’ve got any wooden items desiring a make-over, feel free to stop by…
If you’ve read some of my earlier blog posts, then you may know that I decided to take 52 of these postcard-size collages and turn them into a deck of fortunetelling cards. It seemed the logical thing to do, since the number of people really interested in looking at artwork seemed infinitessimely smaller than the number of people interested in my providing them with some kind of insight into their worlds. The Art Fortunetelling was my way of saying “ok”.
As I may have mentioned earlier, it was way easier for me to find some meaning in the cards than to try and put some meaning in them intentionally. Again, seems logical, if we get talking about art as a subconscious rather than a conscious carrier of meaning. In fact, it seemed to make so much sense that I decided it was time to make a second deck.
And considering that we are in a sort of transition stage – Will we be moving to Foça in September? Or will I just be going up to teach a couple of classes, and coming back down to Bodrum until we can get our act together and finally head (a bit) north? Will I even have students sign up for the classes? Will I get involved in something else even more new and interesting? How will our garden grow?
As soon as I finish up here I will probably go ‘throw the I Ching’ (or as the web site says, ‘toss coin virtually’), but in the meantime, I could go for some interpretation.
Let us say (for sake of argument, and so I can show off my newest collages) that I picked (without looking) the card “Lust”as my first card, my present subconscious,
and then I chose (this time looking at all my choices of cards) the card “Mom”
to go with it.
I might interpret that as consciously trying to step back and look at a situation with multiple aspects/possibilities in a cooly detached way, seeing the beauty of all the possibilities, while beneath this was a seething mess of desire and fear of the unknown.
How lucky I might (or might not) feel when this turned up as my card of the future,
“Burning Down the House” –
As I like to remind people who turn up “The Death Card”,
in the metaphorical world of fortunetelling, this is not necessarily a bad thing…
It was when Mel was in Istanbul being a poet that we were able to take over the house in Foça. In addition to some watercolors of the coastline, I managed to take some photos of some beautiful waterfalls inland, up towards Manisa.
Getting there was an adventure in itself (let’s just say that anytime you’re follow the directions of someone who’s kicking himself in the head because he didn’t Google it first, you really ought to Google it first) – and I’m really not someone who can sit down and start drawing or painting a place I’ve never been to before, anyway – I like to get the feel of a place by walking around and exploring before I can really get into examining it in detail from only one place – so I decided I would take photographs instead (as well as some video, because who knows?, it might come in handy some day).
I figured out a long time ago I was not going to be a professional photographer, and also that I don’t like to carry around a big, heavy camera, so I found myself a great Nikon that might not have all the options of a big ‘SLR’ – but that fits in my front pocket. It’s got a whole lot of gadgets on its ‘menu’, but it won’t let me play with apertures and focal lengths like I’d like to… so I’m sort of limited to ‘one-step-above-point-and-shoot’. Still, it gives me a record of where we’ve been to (and trust me, in this case, we’re not likely to find ourselves there again), keep some ‘digital sketches’ for whatever they might come in handy for, and occasionally act like I’m a ‘real’ photographer…
So, here is my photographic interlude:
Shot Number 1: The Waterfall (because this is where we went)
Shot Number 2: The Waterfall with Harun (because this is who I went with)
Shot Number 3: The Waterfall with Me and Harun (because a selfie is obligatory)
Shot Number 4: Trees and Moss and Rocks (because I was trying to play with the focus on an auto-focus camera)
Shot Number 5: Trees and Moss and Rocks (because I was trying to be romantic with the sepia setting on the ‘menu’)
Shot Number 6: Water Falling in a Pool (because I was still trying to play with the focus on an auto-focus camera)
Shot Number 7: Waterfall (because it was a pretty tall waterfall after all)
Shot Number 8: Drips (because I like to crop things)
Shot Number 9: Obliterated (because I like to crop things and I like Photoshop)
Shot Number 10: Suds (because I really like to crop things and I really like Photoshop)
I hope you enjoyed this photographic interlude.
Now, get back to work!
What a misleading title.
But then again, I think these photos are misleading, too.
When I look at them, it makes me want to make BIG paintings.
Which is kind of interesting, because I NEVER want to make big paintings.
But I could see making these big. At least as big as a couch painting.
A COUCH PAINTING!
How big do you think these are, anyway? Come on, take a guess…
Well, at the moment, they’re big enough – or small enough – to fit in a daypack.
Which is pretty convenient when you’re out for a walk in the woods, or a stroll by the sea.
Thanks to recent technological advancements, I am seriously thinking about making these big. At least bigger than a backpack. After that I’ll just need someplace to put them.
But seriously, folks…
Whenever I’m asked about who has influenced me, I always think of my undergraduate printmaking professor at Washington University, Peter Marcus, and my favorite quote from him: “Make it big, do it in color, and have 100 by Friday.”
Well, I might not have had 100 by Friday, but I certainly liked doing them big and in color. We were lucky to have a very large press (Peter liked doing large prints himself), and so I was doing prints that were at just about a meter tall – just as large as the press could handle.
Back then it was mostly technology that dictated the size of my work. Nowadays it’s storage space.
Confession: While it may have been storage space that got me started doing small works, it’s the idea behind them that’s kept me going. (My friend Hüsnü used to tell people I was a conceptual painter, after all… )
I like the idea that people have to stop in front of my drawings and get up close to them to see what’s going on in them.
Not that they always do.
In fact, they mostly don’t.
But I’m stubborn, and I will continue to try to get people to pause.