İskender Savaşır Feyyaz Yaman Nazan Azeri Conversations on the "Unnamed" exhibition and other works

July-August 2010
Day 1/ Teşvikiye Cafe
Nazan Azeri: I get the feeling that my works concern social issues indeed but if I can’t feel something in my bones as an emotion, there is no way I can turn it into an image. There is no such thing as an isolated individual. The individual can only exist in coexistence with the society. I am an individual but it is not possible to isolate me from the society, the women’s movement, the world, the fact that I’m living in Turkey or from this or that.   That’s the way in which I’m an individual. For this reason, all that I live and see in this world and in this country finds its reflection within me. People have an upbringing, a personal history. The image actually turns into an image by blending with all these. When I feel it as an emotion, it is as if I’m transferring into it something from my past and memory. . That’s why unconscious processes and social processes interlace. They find a place in my body as an emotion and then transform into an image. That’s not something that I do on purpose but rather something I realize that I’ve been doing when I look back. In that sense, that aspect of mine needs to be taken into account as well. The fact is I don’t act with a predetermined, conscious plan in the beginning.
İskender Savaşır: Here’s what I see at first glance: Most of these works seem to ask “how much do we permeate into objects?” at the least. The objects selected aren’t random. Clothes, wedding dress, your mother’s wedding dress – all of them are significant things that refer to events that have taken place… To what extent do objects express and reflect us? What keeps on being said about us after we leave this earth, for how long does our story keep on being told? The relationship between objects and people are very important in this sense.
This time, it is as if what I claimed to witness in previous works have been approached from the opposite angle. (Figure1, on the “Dream Roles”) What stories do vacant clothes tell to some strangers when they are worn by them? Now, I’m going to move on to the pretentious talk that gets said about art works and which I’m troubled with. I believe you’re troubled with them as well. What we said about the objects reminded me of what Heidegger said about Van Gogh's boots. I find that writing, which everyone loves so much, to be a bit problematic. In my opinion, it seems to be speaking the answers that were given much before Heidegger saw that work of art. In other words, it's not a commentary based on the work of art. It’s based on exemplifying the predetermination that some things, such as earth, agriculture and peasantry, are highly significant. The appeal of these works is that they capture something right at that moment when its real importance can be established or not. There is something that is much more sentimental here… a moment of obliteration. We lend something of ourselves to objects and see them being able to carry them and not being able to carry them simultaneously.
It’s a bit different than dolls or growing plants inside cotton, of course, (Figure2, on the “Transformation”) yet it can be interpreted within the same context. It’s as if the question that is constantly being asked is: to what extent do you belong to me, to what extent are you an extension of mine?
Feyyaz Yaman : Precisely.
İskender Savaşır: What does your life after me tell about me or doesn’t and to what extent do we orphan each other? In that sense, if we are to mention womanhood, we probably need to do it based on the objects selected.   When we mention manhood, we more often do it based on doing or producing, of course. It seems to me that there is a story here about using, wearing out and growing old together… We are constantly tracking the traces of a story about the passing of time.
Feyyaz Yaman: Ever since the beginning, Nazan's works have contained an approach concerning womanhood as well as things that are lost. So I’m wondering… does tomorrow find a place in her works as the concern regarding tomorrow? Other than that, concerns regarding what’s been lost are highly dominant. When I interpret it as her personal journey and combine it with her political comments, I see it become a conjunction for her sentences on conservation. We need to make a reading about the form from that point on. In the last exhibition in her video, she had hung her mother's wedding dress on a tree. There was a trembling storm and the wedding dress was shaking terribly, taking on surrealistic forms resembling ghosts just like Neşet Günal’s scarecrows. The tree shaking… sometimes as if it wishes to hold on and sometimes as if it wishes to let go… sometimes as if feeling a glow and capturing a body of its own… Then suddenly becoming a rag again, meek, fragile and hardly holding on. (Figure3, on the video art “My Mother’s Wedding Dress”)
İ.S: It's more dramatic that way…
F.Y: This time, there was a more personal conjunction to the succession of stairs that we just watched here. When I see them, they remind me of a tradition lost…
İ.S: Maybe not a tradition lost but a tradition being lost, more like the process itself... Maybe that's what makes these works so unique... This may cause us to ask: It tells of a very ordinary process… well, do we want to watch such an ordinary process? A process taking place each day and hour... Everything’s being lost little by little each moment, wearing itself out and slipping from our hands. It’s a state of constantly losing rather than a loss that’s experienced at the end of this process... It may be our soft spot but are we sure we want to view such an ordinary thing?
F.Y: Sometimes it happened such that it wasn’t just about that thing lost but something beyond it. You are not fictionalizing it because we don’t know that mother and that subject. No matter what, it is that state of being stuck to the bough that gets one grieving and triggering something that gets one to face the powerlessness of his/her will.   Then, what is this surrounding environment?   What is this will that we’re finding ourselves in?   
İ.S: Maybe it’s because it’s not answering the need for monumentalism that I can’t help but expect from art. I mean, where’s the moment of protest here? Let’s go back to the first works we saw, for example, they were rather paintings that looked fine with their adornment.(Figure4 on the paintings “That Which Can Not Cover”) Here, it is as if that sting is highly tangible. I mean, in the next step, you might feel the picture displaying it would go sour or the texture of the paper would decompose or something. Still, there is something that’s more of a painting here, other than what we’ve been mentioning I mean.
F.Y: That's where it gets frozen actually. At most, we may think about being hung in the wardrobe here. However, here, the textures come to prominence. That decomposition, melting, disintegration…. (Figure:5, on the “Unnamed)
İ.S: Let’s call it going bad. That’s a good title actually: “That Which Can Not Cover.” It gives the feeling not of something that which can not cover but rather something that’s incomplete.
İ.S: Here, there is something that satisfies the need for monumentalism that I’ve been telling you about. Determining it and giving its moments a more permanent form. In other words, the moment of resistance and the return to civilization...
F.Y: Even simply expressing it has a remedial effect.
İ.S: Not just expressing it but becoming permanent there. That’s because the other is an expression as well. The material and workmanship used here is significant. You’re doing something here against that going bad we mentioned.
F.Y: Is there also an ascetism there? Is there something of a ritualisation resembling the approach that adornment adopts in the face of divinity or the existence adopts in the face of the ungraspable.
İ.S: All workmanship contains an ascetism. It is possible… moreover, let me take it one step further… there is something more masculine here. In the protested part, I mean. In the other one, there was the combination of worn out objects and an ageing woman. On the other hand, here, the artist captures a moment and digs deep into it, with more age and a serious workmanship and labor.   She digs deep into it and renders it permanent.
F.Y: When we look at it as a whole, we can claim that.
İ.S: Yes. Yet we may also speak of the universality of these forms. The angles and the forms that are so scattered with their sharp angles…
F.Y: I didn’t feel much expression in them. Did you?
İ.S: Not really, the others were more expressive. They contain more of expressiveness. What you called grief… now, that could be interesting… to exhibit images from that video together with these.
N.A: Yes, I had taken frames from that video and placed them somewhere…
İ.S: What was it that turned into this? Which transitional image or mischievous thing turn into this? There is a picture here and in it, something that is difficult to name… a work… a product of observation which we can not even be sure to be a work…
İ.S: A general statement can be made even though it’s not very illuminating… when we look at all your works, we may witness the following theme. The question they're all asking is this: which stories do objects tell us after they lose their function? In a sense, this theme is present in all the works. What do dolls tell us when they’re separated from their environment and lose their functions?   Vacant clothes… what do they tell us when they’re worn by the homeless?    In other words, what is the story behind functionality?
F.Y: One more thing… There’s also a criticism that questions the functionality of those objects when they were functional. For example, what does a cloth get to mean after it loses its meaning on a body? Or do they influence that body? (Figure6 , on the ”Dream Roles”)
İ.S: It is shown to have an influence.
F.Y: Or the house… (Figure7, on the installation “Upside Down” from the exhibition “Unnamed”) Just like the plane of living behind it and fictionalizing it being turned upside down. That’s the rawest possible discourse. Also, how can this not be overcome as a childhood utopia? These all question the common ideology through symbols.
İ.S: Sure. All these meanings contain something very serious about the temporariness of our world.   The story being told is a derelict one, much outside the one referred to, conveying how temporary everything is, including the wedding dress which we attribute eternity without questioning. That disproportionality between the official story and what remains can be felt in them all, if that’s what you’re calling criticism.
F.Y: This dissection in all these pictures… (Figure 8:on the oil on canvas paintings from the exhibition “Unnamed”) There was your mother's wedding dress being dragged, which you had put on the stairs at Karşı Artworks. (Figure 9:on the “Dragging”) It is as if these works are a continuation of these works.
İ.S: The story being told here seems like a path that can not become a path. Out of a claustrophobia… There is a movement but… (Figure 10:  pictures from the exhibition “Unnamed”)
F.Y: A stairway that reminds one of Escher...
İ.S: It’s more nightmarish and claustrophobic than Escher. A journey that is not a journey… That’s what it brings to my mind and gripes my soul. A path that leads nowhere… What we think is a journey actually is not. It’s always the same rooms and locations, turning around and around. The bottleneck of the modern world… it's leading to a more and more Kafkaesque place. Just like the "Castle."
F.Y: Its language is harsher as well… both in terms of color and in terms of geometrical form. That nature in the final picture levels the narrative a little. Is that the point of return or salvation? Or the point of criticism, disengagement and exit? (Figure 11:Picture VIII from the exhibition “Unnamed”)
İ.S: My objection to this sort of painting, which you refer to as critical, is that I have a hard time seeing the point in which life is affirmed. I mean, everything is going bad, wearing out and it makes me sad… this is a school of thought that has transformed into this, taking romanticism as its starting point. What I’ve come to believe is that the moderns are constantly finding it better and better to assume this. There is a whole theory behind it. A whole political policy… a left wing one…
İ.S: The contrast here is a beautiful one… the fact that this rawness and that thing resembling a path being so different and not being able to link to each other… I mean, that’s not actually where this leads to.
F.Y: However, in my opinion, this narrative is also linear. It’s not picturesque but rather expressive… it is as if there's a narrative rather than a meaning here...
 İ.S: This is one of the most beautiful works. It is so much different from the others in terms of texture. (Figure 12:Picture VII from the exhibition “Unnamed”)
F.Y: Yes, the way it vitrifies and becomes fragile… how it integrates with that texture….
İ.S: For example, here, you get a taste of… it’s nice that there are so many different textures… I mean, you could almost taste its flavor.
 F.Y: A new taste… just like the fusion kitchen.
 İ.S: Exactly. If Ozan was here, he’d claim that we were being fooled by the bribery handed out by the surface texture. He’d claim we’re being fooled by the visual savor… I mean, yes, but that’s what I’m expecting from art.
F.Y: I see.
İ.S: I mean, where’s the savoriness in this one? Let’s take another one, a rawer example… well, where’s the savoriness in this?
F.Y: This one is more Hitchcockian (Figure 13:on a frame from the exhibition “Unnamed”)
İ.S: Yes.
İ.S: This seems impactful to me. ( Figure 14 a and b:Concerning the photographs and pattern designs titled Uncovered/Scrabbles ) I’d like to contemplate on this. If I saw this at an exhibition, I'd stop in front of this work and contemplate.
F.Y: We’re talking about what it can cover and what it can not cover, you know... this concealment here speaks of a more humane virility.
İ.S: Thinking about it, these houses might have been made of soap… (Figure 7, on the installation-sculpture “Upside Down” from the exhibition “Unnamed”).
N.A: That’s possible, yes…
F.Y:The dice effect, it’s as if you have thrown the dice…
N.A: Actually, these houses turned upside down should cover a whole living room… it’d have a greater effect on the audience that way.
F.Y: Ultimately, it’d turn into something like a houseful of houses…
2. Day/Artist’s Studio
N.A: When we look at all these works, it may be perceived as if I have jumped from one thing to another but actually that’s not how it is in terms of the internal voice of the works, which is the same in them all.
F.Y: What kind of a relationship do you perceive here?
İ.S: May I recommend something? Could we watch that video… (Figure 3: on the video titled “My Mother’s Wedding Dress and Figure 15: “Uncovered”) That’s a clue that I’ve grasped and can follow, also it contains something regarding the object being defined and the intraceability of that trace you want. The artist holds together her own imagination and her own images. I’m going to claim that we can not name the concept that it's trying to grasp.
(The video art works titled "My Mother's Wedding Dress" and "Uncovered" were watched.)
F.Y: How should we begin?
İ.S: I did a little homework regarding her previous works. I’ll start talking, taking that as my starting point. Here’s what we can do, if you wish. I may take what’s in front of me as my starting point or take the phrase “My Mother’s Wedding Dress” as my starting point. I’m going to be using a systematic language once again but let’s assume that the objects are a series of means we use to name the daily objects and situations. That’s what Lacan calls a symbolic language. That’s what we agree on and it also carries with it an ideology to a great extent. Isn’t "My Mother's Wedding Dress" actually that sort of a phrase? When this phrase is used, all of our minds are filled with countless emotional burdens, associations and expectations. I mean, we also need to think about how these are placed in our minds. Let me vulgarize this with a simple statement, “my mother’s engagement ring”… When you give a woman your mother’s engagement ring, you receive lots of praise from everyone around. I believe this work operates within that framework… for the most part, the photography also operates within that framework. That which is reproducible and repeatable… The cliché that it’s all repeatable is about to be represented once more. In my opinion, what’s important in this video and all these works is that… it reminds us of a state of that the cliché, experience or object when it can not be supported by that cliché anymore. Somehow, it speaks of that individual existence beyond those meanings we attribute in one way or the other. That’s why, actually, the screening here allows us to see. (Figure 16 a and b: on the photographs and pattern designs Uncovered/Scrabbles) While photography is a way for us to look without seeing, that sort of a screening is a way to make us really look at something.
 We may claim that the wind in that video was called for help by that artist. (Figure 3:video art titled “My Mother’s Wedding Dress)  So, the wind actually does most of the work. The artist has the wind go pull it out... from its ideological frame and daily, symbolic frame... as a dream or a dreamy reality... and it makes us face the place it holds in our life and experience, the place it holds or doesn't hold, that remains missing, is transformed or cursed.
 You started out with the question what kind of a relationship do these images have with the other oil on canvas works. On one hand, the architecture of our inner world is also undetermined. There is a narrative and a place concerning how this architecture was established but how the various spaces we’re in influence and link with each other, what sort of a place they take up in our memory is something that needs to be reconstructed all the time… and it is as if these repetitions, these stairs, which we don't know where they lead to, and the endless walks take us to an inner world where the architectural interior and the exterior nature need to be constructed to interlace and have a specific agent construction unique to them. What’s symbolic in that sense... actually, when I say symbolic, its problematic nature is not revealed, therefore let's use the term ideological... seems to stand at a position between a spatial construction, “being hung out to dry” as an object and her dreams. That’s why these works have an aspect that can be very touching.  (Figure 17 “Unnamed II”)
 So that child we see or imagine that we see, can only be freed from the pressure inflicted by that denomination when we do something to terminate that familiar image like covering them - I’m talking over those pictures now- or the mother’s wedding dress can only be freed when the wind begins to tear it apart. (Figure3) It reaches its more unique existence.
 N.A: Or when the man’s clothes fall down the stairs...
İ.S: However that’s what does not feel so good to me about that work. Exactly that. Maybe it’s something that I’ve said about the photography. An undistorted or tempered cinematic or photographic language… can it escape outside that ideological perspective or symbolic meaning? This also comes up frequently during our discussions on photography. I guess, I believe that what can be seen in a photograph that has not been manipulated in the technical sense is limited. In that video as well, (Figure 15 on the video art "Uncovered"), there was, for lack of a better word, an overly realistic narrative and a course of things that was narrated within the patterns of a realistic cinematic narrative. There is nothing there that functions like the wind here. We saw numerous such festival movies, you know. Those festival movies themselves are ways of creating identities. I mean, where they stand in respect to life is too well defined. It seems to me that some aspect there is in repetition. It’s not as if something’s being seen for the first time or with all its emotional intensity within the experience itself, as in the wedding dress… and that’s what makes me greek to it. All right, I have no objection to such a thing. Maybe that’s why realism is actually impossible.
The spatial constructions on these oil on canvas works... that's the importance of different spatial plans being overlapped. For example, I can easily refer to art history - it is more convenient for me- and compare them with Holland interiors. 17. century interiors – or interiors from the beginning of the 19. century. It’s as if these works are trying out what those interiors once tried to accomplish. “What holds together the space we live in is undetermined. What is it?” You know, I’ve been lately accusing critical theory of whining. They’re whining constantly that there used to be a wholeness in the past and now this wholeness has vanished forever… well, there actually never was a wholeness in the first place. That’s why art always exists. I think the importance of these paintings lies in the fact that they allow us to feel that thing which resembles a whole and keeps on appearing and disappearing all the time. Things that link to each other somehow without the need to whine that they don’t exist, where any part of it can be seen from any angle just like the nature, where a room leads to somewhere and an instant is repeated in different tones… yes, it makes the correct claims about us carrying the space within us.   (Figures 10, 11, 12, 13, 17)
F.Y: What I'm contemplating about is more like this... Why does Nazan have the tendency to come to this point? What makes her say these things?
 İ.S: Do you have an answer to that?
F.Y: There is, of course, the concern for time, indirectly. However, Nazan comes to that point from a more organic point. On one hand, she comes there from her own body.
İ.S: When I say, concerning time, actually, I was unsuccessful in putting into words what I meant. Our bodies actually do a great job of bearing the marks of time. Or don’t they anymore?
F.Y: Maybe, it’s a criticism of that.
İ.S: I mean, actually, the experience of the body doesn’t reflect the trace of time very well. The object seems to have adopted a much more organic characteristic compared to our bodies. Maybe that’s because we can see the traces of time and the feeling of wearing out better when we look at objects.
F.Y: It seems true to me when I view it over Nazan but when we look at the speed of our age, we see that it’s becoming impossible to read such traces. That’s because, how can I put it?... in a similar fashion to the way Photoshop works... we are in a process of seeing, looking and analyzing object where it is becoming more and more impossible to grasp the background meanings of what’s coming from where. We need to have a very serious archival memory in order to interpret and track it. I think, today, a member of the new generation can never manage to understand the imitation of a thonet chair. It’s a process that you’ll approach wondering what it is. There are so many versions, so many productions… it is impossible to determine what’s been taken from where, replicated from where or why which part of which was put in the place of which part of the other, we need to conduct a criminal study to accomplish it. Yet they lack the knowledge to do that. That’s why, when I look at Nazan’s object, I still think that the problem originates from the modernist process.
İ.S: You’re so right. That’s why, the way you think about the wedding dress... that's a different situation.
F.Y: Since it contains a rationalism or an objection to the rationalism being imposed and since it forms its sentence by embodying it, I think that objection contains the traces of a depressing concern and a reactionary expressiveness. I believe that here, the radicalism of Nazan's discourse, which is always antagonistic, is also an indicator. The black and white duality in the paintings is also an indicator of that. I’m making this statement, taking her previous exhibitions into consideration as well. Now, the paintings are becoming more colorful but they’re still based on a typographical approach, certain contrasts and tensions. I look and see stairway slopes in opposite directions, a violence caused by the zig zags... then, I see geometrical and organic forms being used side by side... This is a sentence in which approaches that are radically opposing each other are being stated together.
İ.S: Then, let’s name it… not romantic but baroque. That’s why I referred to the 17th century interiors. I completely agree with you. In Baroque works, despite all that dissemination, there was also a point, which they shared with the modernists and didn’t give up the claim that they could re-establish an wholeness in aesthetic terms.
F.Y: Yes but only in terms of the starting point. On one hand, in terms of its tension, this time like the romantics, it leaves us alone with a tension that reminds us of Casper David's. I think there’s a tension here that both opposes nature and also speaks from position of Goethe and Faust.   As in the German pop art, when the typography left the USA and began to be used in a way containing much more tension, emphasizing the contrasts... The way I interpret those contrasts in Nazan is as follows: First, there’s the issue of womanhood. She mainly associates her womanhood with nature. That’s where the organic forms all come from. The city and the disharmony caused by the rational contrasts this naturalism. The contrast, the conflict which arises as a result and its patriarchal symbols… In between these two conflicts is the interspaces to form sentences. When I look from that point, I always see you inside that tension. Just like Robert Longo’s paintings of businessmen falling off from that skyscraper. Yuppies in suits falling down… just as on September 11… Just as those pictures contained an expression that turned the economy-centered world of New York, which gave no importance to people whatsoever, into an internal fear, a fear of our age... your works also contain the patriarchal one, symbolized in its rawest form as a suit but is dragged behind something else, falling down one step at a time, as a contradiction presented by you, and ending up at a point where it is stuck on the boughs, just as in the lord of the flies, at a point where the nature is imprisoned within itself. Combining womanhood with things such as burqa, covering and even concealing that childish innocence, through the utilization of childish and even religious images, that fear of the woman against the patriarchal, the fatherly…it’s highly European but at the basis of this contrast lies the city, the nature, the rational and the domain that’s outside the boundaries of the rational.  The woman is a representative of the nature and a witch. In opposition are the things that are an extension of the man, who is the symbol of civilization, in a constant conflict and reckoning.
 Previously, Nazan had works in which she reflected portraits on the kitchen and objects such as tea tray, table and knife. On the woman’s faces reflected on objects such as saucepan lids, were traces of rebellion caused as a result of being stuck in a narrow space. (Figure 18, “MeObjects”) These were also works based on a rebellion against being trapped in a narrowed down space. I’m communicating these as the raw discourse underneath the works but this sound sometimes turns into the sound of the wind, the dispersion... It contains sub-conflicts such as not being able to interfere and the inadequacy of power.
İ.S: I would like to make the following objection to what you’ve just said. The only place where the nature is accepted as a vivifying force or a force that restores the individual meaning is, in my opinion, the video. On the canvas works, it can not be viewed as the nature.
F.Y: Yes, there, it’s nothing but a texture.
İ.S: It’s not an alternative principle either and depicts something that’s much more real in that sense.
F.Y: I believe that these pictures accept no feeling of femininity. Actually, the textural coverage becomes such a network here that it also acts as a trap against the patriarchal. It evokes an energy that has trapped the patriarchal inside its web. However, in my opinion, once more at a inconclusive and catastrophical point. That’s why the works stand at a point of high tension.
İ.S: I was thinking of what’s symbolical rather than what’s patriarchal.
N.A: Actually, I see this discourse as a highly patriarchal language. Associating the woman with the nature and the civilization with the man is a highly patriarchal language. When it’s separated into two in this manner… Doesn’t what’s patriarchal have anything to do with the nature? I think it does and this is being overlook so it’s a highly patriarchal discourse. I don’t think that way.
F.Y: What do you think?
N.A: Separating something into two in this manner and saying that this is this and that is that is difficult. It’s incorrect. This whole language is incorrect. You know why? That’s because the otherness within it is being overlooked. It’s the same way in art history, this language within it peels off the other within it and throws it aside. However, that’s not how the reality is.
F.Y: What’s the other in the patriarchal then?
N.A: Doesn’t the patriarchal have a relationship with the nature? It does, in an existential way even, but pretends that it does not. In order to denominate itself in a specific manner…
F.Y: However when you take the rational… to me, the rational symbolizes many things that come from but oppose the nature.
N.A: Women also have rational thinking abilities.
F.Y: Yes but her historicity has developed organization models over the power and hegemony ever since the emergence of patriarchy. The woman has developed a mechanism probably in accordance with this and that is the language of the harem, which we call the female war. Of course, in every age, women display the ability of conspiring or struggling through a secret language.   However the patriarchal has such a deep relationship with the synthetic that I believe that it is not possible for us to claim that, at least in terms of its current position today, it is harmonious with what’s natural.
 N.A: Why is that? Don’t men die? The men are so closely related to nature that its most evident proof is that they're dying.
F.Y: Manhood is not accepting death. Manhood is defining oneself through immortality.
N.A: I believe that men are defining themselves incorrectly.
F.Y: Yes, your last sentence is very true indeed.
İ.S:There’s of course one more thing. Now, I’m going to say something that may sound a little hostile but I guess it needs to be said about these works. I guess, in order to be visible, one needs to cover. Being photographed is not within the scope of being visible, on the contrary, it may even be considered concealment.   However when we cover up the photograph, we can see the girl's gaze. When we have her wear the veil, she becomes visible as a spot, void or loss within the symbolic order. I’m sure to get crucified for saying this but what’s not being said about all those turban discussions is that… we can only see them when they cover themselves up.
 On the other hand, you talked about “rejecting death,” I mean, who is it that’s rejecting it… the men or the women? I would like to ask you the percentage of those who undergo botox operations. The domain where the ageing and the passing of time is denies most fiercely in our day is the woman’s body. All right, for the voyeuring pleasure of the men perhaps… we had mentioned that while you were away a moment ago. We can observe the wearing out of the human body and the traces of the passing of time in objects rather than the human body. In this relationship formed with the objects, which you’re displaying, in the video, the little houses, we can see the traces of the passing of time in objects, the wearing out of the objects and the objects losing their functionality. Here, we may again associate this with Casper David. The functional object is the invisible object in his works as well… We may say that the art work may only take on an effective form when the solitary houses that have been demolished or deserted…   Here, it may only take on an effective form when it avoids the trap of the symbolic... so, in a way, the surface of the canvas protects them from the trap of the symbolic. I will agree with something that Nazan said: the discourse of the artist is actually is a quite imperialistic one… here, it is the discourse of Nazan Azeri. In these works, there is a gloom that obsoletes femininity with patriarchy and claims that it can reconstruct a common texture by including whatever it wishes, namely the nature and the urban. It is a tense gloom though… this oil on canvas does not allow the nature to be viewed as an alternative. We also have the video with us. There is wind in the video. Do you see how different the nature is in these paintings?
F.Y: Not really, it seems organic and inorganic at the same time…
İ.S: That one over there is organic… really, do you think it is different than the organicism of the texture of the stairs?
F.Y: Not really.   That’s because even on the stairs, there are reflections and texture of the stairs and these convey the nature and the texture within it even though it is a designed and manufactured form that is geometrically converse. Sort of convoluted like an embroidery canvas or a spider’s web.(Figure12, “ Unnamed VII” )
İ.S: I see.   What about that repetition? They all contain it… (Figure 8,10,13 )
F.Y: Repetition… again from different angles.   Yes, that one contains that geometrical collision… resembling Escher.
İ.S: The ones under them also have that Escher feeling. Escher’s name also crossed my mind a few times. Of course, Escher’s is a highly conceptual trick.
F.Y: A state of release, a state of escape isn’t linear in these. On the other hand, the film is... it's as if going out of the house into the forest. The narrative there is more historical and straightforward but contains a feeling of suspension and resentment.
İ.S: Yes.
F.Y: Resentment, dragging, suspending and emptying…
İ.S: Now, here’s what we’re going to do… it may not be polite to talk this sort of thing in front of the artist but... also consider that the artist who painted this is a modern woman who has power.
F.Y: Yes, you mean a woman who tells herself that now she can speak her mind..
İ.S: I mentioned this point because you were talking as if we were speaking about a woman who stood outside the power relations and threw rocks at the system from that position…
F.Y: No, I said that based on the contrasts... Nazan has been constructing herself in every area for a while… through the contrasts in the ideological sense as well… The fact that she chose to use black and white… Her criticism is also partially assertive. At some points, she is quite intolerant.
N.A: At this point in my life, I feel like I have grown tired of all languages.
İ.S: However these works also contain the claim that your language may dominate everything. That’s what scares me a little in these works, particularly the paintings. They seem to claim that you have developed such a style that it covers the nature, the hope for escape as well as the feeling of being trapped and the effort... a claim that your architecture dominates everything.
N.A: Is that how it’s perceived? I mean, this may be just an exploration as well. I may be just going after something to discover something.
İ.S: These paintings show no traces of a search for something though. It’s more of a “discovery.” When you think of Feininger for example, he is one of my favorite painters, we don’t see much of a search in his works, do we? He replicates the nature in some way.
F.Y: Crystallizes it.
İ.S: Yes, what we have here is also a dark crystallization… a crystallization that carries the carbon but isn’t there also such a replication here?
F.Y: Yes, there is. That’s why I associated that replication with a sort of reproduction and revenge, associating it with witchcraft… and thought:   These aren’t Pollock style discharges. On the contrary, they are very determined and have been weaved meticulously. That’s actually why I wanted to use the metaphor of a spider’s web. The power of weaving that web probably brings with it that harshness in the language used. I think Nazan believes in the existence of such an energy.
N.A: What kind of an energy is that?
F.Y: One that resembles a spider weaving its web. If you can design something, a structure… that also contains a final purpose and a balance based on life and death.
İ.S: Too balanced, they have no space to breathe. It has too much structure in that sense…
F.Y: Here, Nazan leaves no space to breathe.
İ.S: In that sense, she is too engaged with her power to structuralize. A few moments ago, I gave the example of Feininger.   Now, let’s take a whole different structure… and consider how Cezanne never brought things together as a whole, moving between cubism and impressionism setting one eye free all the time to do whatever it desires.
F.Y: The fact that he at least covered up the structure. Nazan’s structure is really harsh. I think in her works, the typography comes first.   They also contain some semitones but fundamentally it is like a black and white movie. Even color seems black and white to the eye.
İ.S: That was my criticism. She is too sure of herself, too direct.
F.Y: It is an artist’s stand, after all…
N.A: In what sense?
İ.S: In terms of the composition, the power to cover all and not letting the individual be visible other than its energy to compose.
F.Y: We should ask you, perhaps… for example, in what sense do you include the nature in your works?
N.A: I don’t know…
F.Y: Is it an escape from urbanism or an alternative to it?
N.A: Not really. I didn’t think of any of these while making these works. I didn’t have any of these in my mind.
F.Y: Why does the woman come out of the building, take the suit out of the wardrobe and walks and walks... all the way into the woods? I mean she takes the suit from the hanger in the house and hangs it in the forest. (Figure:19 “ Uncovered” photo print)
N.A: I don’t know… it was just that such a need and image had emerged within me. I needed to hang that cloth in the forest.
İ.S: Actually the language you're using now is closer to the language of the paintings.
F.Y: Yes.
İ.S: I mean, she might as well have hung it on electric wires…
N.A: Not electric wires. The fact is you perceive it from a male perspective while it’s just a suit.
F.Y: However I still believe that it is a patriarchal symbol. It doesn’t give the same feeling as a skirt or a two piece dress.
N.A: But there’s also the fact that the woman also takes herself to the same location.
F.Y: Yet she takes the suit with her.
N.A: Then, it’s the language you mentioned previously. The woman belongs to the nature.
F.Y: Why does she go barefoot? She collects information from where she came from.
İ.S: I think that attribute suits the second video better. (Figure 19: the video titled “Uncovered”) That’s why the second video is a little weaker, it doesn’t have the same energy as this one. (Figure 3:the video “My Mother’s Wedding Dress) The second video is more familiar. A barefoot woman… the poor woman’s been left by her man and that’s how she’s taking her revenge.
N.A: Is that how it’s perceived?
F.Y: It’s interesting actually. How will people react?   The woman is walking as if she’s conducting a survey. (Figure15 , the video art ”Uncovered”)  It’s as if she’s conducting a research on what people will say to her. Some are aware of her, others are not. For example, the cat walked out of the screen for a while. Those are the magazinish parts of urbanism perhaps but... taking the suit from the wardrobe and going over to that tree...
İ.S: I’ll agree with Feyyaz there. Some images there are so undeniable and strong that it doesn’t matter what you think. I mean, what possibly can she do... she'll go to the nature of course, after all, she's a woman... A barefoot woman…
N.A: Each shoe would define the woman in a different light there. I guess I wanted her to be indefinable. I also wanted to go to a place that were beyond words. I believe I’ve grown tired of the realm of the language. Could it be a search to start something new?
F.Y: It makes you feel what you’re hearing, contacting the ground, touching it… Not with the shoe but barefoot… whatever it is… a barb or a rock… That’s also very womanlike... that's the association it brings to one's mind. The nature, evisceration, death….
İ.S: Let me talk in psychoanalytical terms… a transition to the passive from the active. Abandoning, going with a hollow cloth… journey to a place based on denying that which is active. Exposing oneself to the spontaneity of nature, being barefoot, carrying a hollow cloth… All of these may be, according to Freud’s famous words, concepts of manhood and womanhood but the more important and central concept for us are activeness and passiveness.
N.A: In this dual texture and photograph, when you erase the scribbling on the photograph, what remains? (Figure14 a-b or 16 a-b, on the “Uncovered/Scribbles” photographs and pattern textures)
İ.S: Shall we view them as a whole or separately?
N.A: These two are a single work.
İ.S: When we look at it that way, it is obvious. What's behind it, I mean... that's what I was trying to say a few moments ago... you can only see it when it is covered.
N.A: When you erase this pattern texture as well as that scrabbling, what would remain?
İ.S: The real presence of the model.
N.A: That's impossible to depict.
İ.S: I find these great in that sense… they’re very successful works.
N.A: I don’t understand… that’s also what’s being searched for and headed for in the paintings. That’s why… what we search when we look at them all…
İ.S: I don’t think that’s what remains in the paintings, what remains in the paintings is ideology. In the pattern textures, something more of the model remains.
F.Y: Something that has more to do with seeing and showing.
N.A: Are we nothing but a denomination? What is me without a denomination?
İ.S:What we see. It is possible to see it here when we look at it… Here is the contradiction within you:   We can see it… why do you want us to denominate it once again? What remains is what I see when I look. I don’t need to denominate it. The moment I name it is the moment I fall into the trap.
N.A: You’ve got a point.
İ.S: Why do you force me into negative criticism? What remains when I look is what I see. That’s the achievement of the artist.
 When I look here, what remains is an internal architecture. Constructing an interior. An effort to form a meaningful whole out of the accumulation of all these. There is also a contentment in being able to accomplish this… a gloomy contentment nonetheless.(Figures8, 10,11,12,13, 17, oil on canvas paintings from the exhibition “Unnamed“)
N.A: What interest me is how people are persuaded to do all these?   In other words, how is consent manufactured? People being consented without them realizing that what they’re being exposed to is a language of violence... How is this consent manufactured?
İ.S: How did you grow up? How were you persuaded to grow up?
F.Y: By being consented.
N.A: Yes, that’s right but at this moment, I talking about something more concrete.
F.Y: Did you ever think about the internal that is external? What’s viable isn’t what’s real, the point at which you feel what’s behind it within you, the point at which you develop it and feel it within you, identifying yourself with it, is important. This concept is very well defined in religion. There, in what we call reality… of course, putting the contradictions in the social sense, ideological dimension and historical sense aside… there’s another dimension that you’re trying to give a voice to as an individual, as an artist agent, which is making all this so difficult. In that seeing, perceiving and judging format, other than the ideological dimension where the same contradictions continue to flow outside of yourself, there are also shifts, breaking points and differences in the course of affairs experienced on the social level as well. I’m trying to fictionalize you at the point you touch these matters. You impose your interpreting methods and forming dynamics. This is paradoxical but how can I put it, also an intersection point formed within you. That’s not the voice it finds in another language or in someone else at least. That’s why we’re talking about a generalization and a judgment but also your subjectivity. That’s why it’s natural for you to ask yourself why people can’t see what you're seeing. That’s why you’re reading it based on yourself and a problematic formed within yourself.
 İ.S: That’s why I'm asking if this painting truly contains a search. You have established such a geometry on this canvas that everything has a place. It transcends all languages. There’s nothing that you can claim to have seen but could not put in here. I mean, there’s no room for a sunset here but the sunset melts away in this texture anyway. We can say that the sunset melts away and is lost in this texture.
F.Y: You have sort of a deconstructive structure. You have broken it into pieces and are constructing it all over again.
İ.S: Reconstructing it, rather.
F.Y: Yes, you’re constructing it over and over again but you’re taking the same data as your starting point. Your starting point is again the photographic visuality and you're deconstructing and reconstructing it over and over again. At that point, you insert your own interpretation. That’s all right, it all happens at this tempo but the surface, deconstruction of the surface, putting it together, breaking it down and reconstructing it... it all goes through these phases.
N.A: Each piece in the paintings is a part of a certain time and space.
İ.S: Yes, that’s right.
F.Y: A snapshot, we might say.
N.A: Yes, a different point of view and each piece is a view from a different perspective. Was that what you meant when you said I'm putting it all in.
F.Y: For instance, Nazan, if I didn’t know you better, I’d think that this painting was an extension of the Soviet art.(Figure8, 10,11,12,13, oil on canvas works from the exhibition titled “Unnamed“)
N.A: Are you serious?
F.Y: Yes but what I mean is this… you know in that period there were people like Dizigo Vertov, who dealt with the image and the visual, with concerns such as "now we need to break everything apart and positioning ourselves at a different location, we need to construct something new” at the verge of a new world. You can also look from here and when you look from here the camera is like this whereas when you look from there the camera is like that.
İ.S: And at the same time, he is sure that he’s going to get the results.
F.Y: Yes.
N.A: Isn’t that how it is anyway? I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get the results but I can say that I’m sure I want to keep on searching.
İ.S: Now, could we really call it a search? For example, Picasso and Brage's analytical cubism period isn't a search. Because at that point, they’re aware that the object is gone. On the other hand, Russian constructivism is definitely certain that reconstruction is possible. Isn’t that true?
F.Y: Yes. That woman’s dress in your first movie, your mother’s wedding dress and the wind is more womanly. Here, as İskender puts it, there is a more straightforward attitude reflected by your patriarchal word. Here, even your discourse is patriarchal. You are dissociated from that womanly poetry here – whatever that means.
İ.S: Previously you had called something outside your control for help: the wind… here, there is nothing that we can not control.
N.A: That’s because the woman keeps on producing works of art.
İ.S: Do you hear the vanity in her voice when she says that? That’s the only way one can produce works of art.
N.A: No, what I mean is this… The period you’re talking about is 2004-2007. Feyyaz knows it… I had quit art, grown tired of many things. I have only one work from that period, a photograph I took in 2006: a black woman’s dress sitting on a bench (Figure 20) In 2007, I started working on the works of the exhibition I opened at Feyyaz’s gallery. I started working on them and it took me a great effort.
F.Y: That’s when you started your dragging.
N.A: No, "Dragging" was in 2004, my mother's wedding dress was dragged. (Figure 9)
 F.Y: That’s right.  
 N.A: Then came the video for the exhibition at your gallery (Figure3, “My Mother’s Wedding Dress”). That was the first video I produced after that period in which I had done nothing. So, it's sort of a manifestation. Here, I have put what's within me more in an order after that first manifestation of mine.
İ.S: Free from the curse of the mother. Free from being a woman.
N.A: Why do you keep on associating this with being a woman? 
İ.S: No, I particularly said that to associate it with Feyyaz's language.
N.A: That’s not what I’m thinking actually. That’s not what goes in my mind.
İ.S: Why do you talk of womanhood in the traditional sense.
N.A: Yes, that’s a language that I want to digress from actually. Separating something into two in this way… praising one and degrading the other. This is a cliché… Defining everything over this cliché is a language I want to digress from.
F.Y: However when you want to be able to talk about and comment about something, you need to interpret and classify it or turn it into a cliché in your terms.
N.A: Yes, that’s why I went to a non-linguistic domain in the exhibition we held at your gallery… That’s why I’m really producing my works from a non-linguistic domain. If this is a search, it might as well be a search for the possibility of a new language. Taking a man’s suit and hanging it in the middle of nature… A suit is of course a linguistic domain. It's as if, for a new language you need to...
F.Y: Hang someone.
İ.S: Yeah, right, hang them high.
N.A: That’s not it Feyyaz, now you’re jumping over to other memories from that point.
F.Y: It’s a pretty bloodless method of hanging though, after dragging for so long...
N.A: But that’s symbolic as well.
İ.S: But that's not the way to talk about it... the male body is totally deleted, we're talking about an empty suit.
N.A: Yes. That’s exactly what I’m saying. It’s empty.
İ.S: In my opinion, that’s where it connects with Casper David, whom Feyyaz had mentioned in the beginning, and the romantic tradition. Traces of romanticism are truly visible in these works.
N.A: How is an empty suit tied with romanticism.
İ.S: Casper David, I mean.
F.Y: The ghost, for example.
İ.S: I mean, there’s only the functionless before god. The church that’s not used, is lost and already demolished.
F.Y: But it’s a soul that’s being referred to.
F.Y: Why did you insert that background there, those that resemble works of marbling. What kind of an emotion do they evoke in you?... suddenly from those interspaces…
N.A: They seem to have to do with tradition.
İ.S:The Vertov association is dead on right, I mean, it really has to do with the constructions of time. There’s a weariness there, a sense of "let’s reach beyond all these languages and do it all over again”
N.A: Russian constructivists?
İ.S: Yes.
N.A: It is true that I’ve grown to be weary.
N.A: During our last meeting, a sentence was said about the overturned house, we talked about it with Feyyaz as well (Figure7, installation-sculpture titled “Upside Down” from the exhibition “Unnamed” ) When we talked about it with you the first day, you said that you could make it out of soap.   I thought that it could have been made from wax as well. However, then I thought about it again.     If I’m going to make it out of soap or wax, what’s the meaning of overturning it? Soap or wax… it’s going to melt anyway. Yet I overturned them after building them from durable materials… Why? That’s because an overturned home also carries within it the opportunity to lift it back to its normal position. I like to have this opportunity.
İ.S: The artist has a never ending confidence in her constructive energy.
N.A:   Maybe or maybe not but having that opportunity is a nice thing… Actually, I guess I like that opportunity in it.
F.Y: Who was it that committed the act of overturning? Was it the act of nature or something supernatural? Was it the wife or the husband? Isn’t overturning actually the structure moving to a plane whose balance we do not know?
N.A: That’s open ended. It implies something bigger than that can be seen. That house is actually a house built and drawn by children… That’s the home that’s been overturned.
F.Y: Alice in Wonderland?
N.A: Alice in Wonderland? Why? What makes you say that?
F.Y: Scale… looking at things from a different perspective, things becoming incoherent.
*Nazan Azeri, “Sanatı Üzerine Söyleşiler Yazılar “isimli kitapçıkta ve “Adı Konmamış” serge kataloğunda yayınlandı.