2-25 April 2009 Evin Art Gallery, Bebek-Istanbul
The short-circuit reflection Clean Hands develops in the name of a clean society provides protection for naïve expectations and contemplates the proposition, “Hope sometimes means foreseeing the future;” and broaches the question, “Will this exhibition supply a solution to the crisis?” It points out that valuation, and the system which determines what values are is “speculative.” It proposes a series of thoughts on authenticity, plausibility, objectivities, reality and realism. Departing from a realism which has remained alien to a remedy, it looks not at the victim but the vainglorious.
The “Phis-kos” series, presented to the gaze of the viewers in an exhibition format inspired by official parades, is composed of 9 depictions. 9 depictions of a socio-psychological “official parade” looking at the “new-man brothers” syndrome of the desperate, global-scale crisis. They disrupt a pattern of rote; they are oil paintings, showpiece depictions made from imagination rather than painted from a photograph. These depictions which seek shelter within their own outlines on the whiteness of the canvas, are placeless. They will probably become a part of the space they are exhibited in. They are paintings without text, but they are related to “text-image” in that they evoke words. Because the outlines hold the colour within, they resemble transparent shadow-play figures in inverse light. They are nobility resembling Karagöz, they are the gentlemen.
They are an imitation of an archaic gaze, or the hand, arm and foot movements and postures of holy depictions in ancient religious sites like “Yazılıkaya.” They represent the idea of translocation between the hero in ancient war and victory monuments, the arrangement order of narrative reliefs in mausoleums of the human-god or in similar modern monuments, graphic design which constructs a glorified idea of power using kitsch adaptations with the relatively symbolic depictions of contemporary authority. They are depictions of official power in civilian attire: civil servant, supervisor, judge, soldier, imam, sheikh, boss, even a legal entity; a company, a ceo, an appointee, a groom, a man, a stockbroker or a teacher, domestic or foreign. They are global, they are everywhere, they are individuals, they are good, exemplary citizens. There is a further paradox which should not go unnoticed: “Power” is present even in the smallest unit; is not the torment inflicted on the wife by the husband or on an animal by a child, the construction of another field of power, the repetition of power? The suit is the universal caricature of this situation.
Their gaze, instead of the classical Hero, which stands erect, staring profoundly, is fixed on the eyes of the viewer, causing disquiet, evoking the evil eye. The eyes are blank; you search, in vain, for what lies behind them. They are the eyes of a figurine which cannot be entered, in other words, with no content, which cannot reunite with its spirit. They are not what it shows, but showpiece depictions of it. None of these paintings are portraits; they are masks, personas, to use the concept proposed for the capitalist individual by modern thought: They conceal the “I” inside from the external gaze, it is impossible to know what lies within.
Once the creator of the object is no longer the determiner of the labour or need value, the source of information becomes obscured, is trivialized and the historical leitmotiv is lost. Speculation defines value and inflates its own bubble. The weighing of net reality with the gross weight of ideas indicates a nausea of the mind. The crystallized doubt of a pessimistic, despairing world defines the idealized system of values. Speculative knowledge is delusion and unfounded suspicion. Trustworthiness depends on preference. It is followed by typical moves and short-term scoops. Hope comes to mean profit, and charts mean fate. The bubble bursts and the crisis returns from the dead. This is the cycle of events.
The word codex denotes a data base and it serves to establish trust. The Turkish Language Assoication dictionary explains the word as “the formal book indicating the formulae of pharmaceuticals.” Nutriment codices are also published to describe legal chemicals. Codices are the first manuscripts, documents on which holy knowledge is recorded. The word is also used to mean an index of rules. Ironically, a codex is the meeting point of science and officialdom. Trust is established with the approval of official authority, or the notary. This exhibition is about formality, officialism, ceremony.
This “illustrated parade” reveals individual psychologies. Informal friendliness within formal intimacy… Whispering figures. The formality of society in a state of consideration, chatting, communicating, transmitting knowledge and reports, informing each other. A football commentator on TV, recalling his source of intelligence, says, “I was so close, I eavesdropped on them from a distance.” If intelligence means the gathering of information, then communication is the topic. Information forms another piece of information. This is then called commentary. Trust in information as news is nominal and depends on choice. One word leads to another, the grapevine begins to buzz, the source of information is obscured and becomes irrelevant. Information turns into news, and news turns into everything that we hear to forget later. And this is what alienation is about.
Translated by Nazim Dikbaş