“Calendar Boys”: A “Lost” Installation Refound

Calendar Boy 1

When we moved from Bodrum to Foça last May, I had the task of cleaning out my studio. It hadn’t had a good spring cleaning in around 10 years, and being a natural pack-rat (a  good characteristic for someone who makes collages, but a bad one for someone with a small studio space), I found some things I didn’t even know I had.

One of those things was a series of photographs of an installation I had done while I was at Hacettepe, back in the days before smartphones and wifi, when people still took photographs with cameras that had film and that you could hold in your hands and shuffle around to look at. (Didn’t that used to be fun?)

I am happy to have rediscovered this piece. It was installed in a room/alcove near the entrance to the university’s faculty/grad-student cafeteria. The actual cafeteria was upstairs, but the line to get in was so long that it went all the way down a flight of steps and past my exhibit – so it was as if I had professors and grad students lining up for my exhibit nearly every day!

I have no memory of a title, but I hope that I named it “Calendar Boys”.  At any rate, that’s what I’m calling it now. It consisted of a bed covered in pink plush, with a pink plush pillow, pink plus slippers, and a pink plush-covered book hanging over the bed, which was sitting in the middle of the gallery/alcove that opened on to the “lunch line”.  The back wall was all windows, and on the other two walls I hung 12 framed black-and-white photos (6 on each wall) of classical Greek and Roman statues – all male nudes.

The installation was set up to encourage people to walk around and look at the photos on the walls

Calendar Boy 4

and then to lie down on the bed and look at the pictures in the book.

Calendar Boy 3

The pictures in the book were the exact same pictures that were on the walls, except that I had coloured the ones in the book (with a bit of sepia-toned and watercolour photoshopping) to make them look “more realistic”.

Calendar Boy 5

Basically, the book was my version of a “pin-up calendar” – except for women: “Twelve Months, Twelve Naked Men”.

Calendar Boy 6

(There are 10 more, but these should be enough for you to get the idea.)

As with most of my work, this installation had more questions than answers.  The ones I started out with were:

“Why are ‘nude’ statues ‘art’, and ‘naked’ pictures ‘pornography’? Or is that even true?” and “Why is it ‘normal’ to look at pictures of nude/naked women, but ‘not normal’ to look at pictures of nude/naked men?”

After the piece was installed, I had another question:

“Was anyone actually looking at it? And if so, who?”

Since I couldn’t be hanging out unobtrusively in the background every minute of the entire week of the exhibit, that question was going to be hard to answer. Luckily, I was able to get some feedback from the gentleman responsible for managing the activities in the building – who, it turned out, was also very curious about the exhibit, and who was better placed than I was to be able to keep an eye on what was going on in the gallery space (and who was also kind enough to let me take his photograph while he was lying in the pink plush bed, wearing a pair of pink plush slippers, looking at the “Calendar Boys”).

According to my informant (I no longer remember his name), although not so many people were as inclined as he was to enjoy the comforts of pink plush, quite a lot of people – mostly women, and mostly when the lunch line was gone, so there was no one watching – were going up and looking at the pictures on the walls, and then opening up the pink plush book for inspection…. (Note to myself: If I ever recreate this piece, I will have to use a bigger bed, so that the only way to get a hold of that book is to get into bed with it.)

Calendar Boy 2

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

Women in Art

The following  pictures are from the installation titled ‘2000 Women’ from 2000 that featured 2000 drawings of naked women. The drawings were all copies of about 7 classic nude images from artists ranging from Reubens to Degas.

After the exhibit, I thought that a better title might be ‘Backfired’.

2000 women installation shot
(unfortunately, best resolution I’ve got – sorry…)

That’s because the original intent of this piece – together with ‘Nü-Nar’ (‘Nude-Pomegranate’), another installation in the British Council’s gallery in Ankara – was to raise the issue of the commodification of women through art.

With 2000 women, I thought that the entire piece would turn into a giant abstract work that would in some sense supersede the individual drawings (200 per month over a 10-month period, 50/week, Mon-Friday, 10/day). In a sense it did, but in a sense, it did not. Horny men still expressed the most interest in the big-busted blondes, whereas they had less appreciation for well-drawn feet and faces.

I thought I would post these today, 4 days after a young woman in the southern Turkish city of Mersin was murdered by a would-be rapist.

The first photo below is another exhibition shot, but the next 2 are pictures of some tea trays I decorated using parts of some drawings that had been in the exhibition. Over the weekend, I had a box of about 200 of the drawings on sale at an open-air Bazaar in Turgutreis that hoped to breathe some life into the dead downtown of a tourist trap in winter and earn some money for some women trying to improve their economic circumstances.

Money – Sex – Violence – Power.

These are the things that ‘art’ messes with.

In the meantime, my husband and I happily celebrated Valentine’s Day with a dinner out on the town:
I’d rather celebrate love than excoriate hate.

Let’s see how to ‘tag’ this one, folks.

 

2000 women detayi fuzzy

 

Tray- Caryatids

tray - angel w winged bowl