FALL­ING INTO A WIDEN­ING ABYSS

For the ‘La Chute’ ex­hi­bi­tion at REM Art Space on dis­play un­til May 7, cre­ative minds from Tur­key and Ice­land de­scend into the depths of psy­cho­log­i­cal empti­ness, cu­rated with a lit­er­ary ap­pre­ci­a­tion for ‘ The Fall’ by Al­bert Ca­mus

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page -

REM Art Space is host­ing an ex­hi­bi­tion of artists from Ice­land and Tur­key in­spired by Al­bert Ca­mus’s last work of fic­tion the philo­soph­i­cal novel “The Fall,” “La Chute” in French

THE LAST com­plete work of fic­tion by Al­bert Ca­mus is the philo­soph­i­cal novel “The Fall,” “La Chute” in French. It is an ex­is­ten­tial­ist’s road map of Catholic sym­bol­ism, nar­rated as a se­ries of con­fes­sional mono­logues by Cla­mence, a French lawyer, who is named af­ter the Latin “cla­mans,” mean­ing “he who shouts.” He is a guilt-rid­den man, and under the pen of Ca­mus he en­dures a sec­u­lar­ized, psy­cho­log­i­cal re­tool­ing of Dante’s Nine Cir­cles of Hell in Am­s­ter­dam, the last of which takes place in the red-light district near the for­mer Jew­ish Quar­ter. In an es­say ti­tled, “Ca­mus, The Fall and the Ques­tion of Faith,” writer Jimmy Ma­her echoed the sen­ti­ments of the im­mor­tal­ized 43-year-old French-Al­ge­rian au­thor in the last years of his short life: “Per­haps as he reached mid­dle age Ca­mus was ques­tion­ing the re­lent­lessly amoral, self-cen­tered world­view of the ex­is­ten­tial­ists, along with their no­tion of an essen­tially mean­ing­less uni­verse de­void of ab­so­lutes.”

“The Fall” is a modernist chron­i­cle of the fall of Adam and Eve from the Gar­den of Eden im­mersed in the noir deca­dence of post-war Europe. Its pages are filled with fallen an­gels whose wings are clipped, long ves­ti­gial from ne­glect in the dark night of his­tory bereft of myth. “If one would dis­credit re­li­gion, one should per­haps be re­quired to of­fer some­thing other than empty ra­tio­nal­iza­tions to re­place it. I do not know what that some­thing might be, of course, and, for all of his in­tel­lec­tual bril­liance, nei­ther did Ca­mus,” Ma­her wrote.

In the sim­plest read­ing of “The Fall” and the life of its writer, it is clear that Ca­mus was un­can­nily sim­i­lar in age and char­ac­ter­is­tics to his pro­tag­o­nist. In his lit­er­a­ture, Ca­mus fur­thered one of the most im­por­tant al­ter­na­tives to re­li­gious and his­tor­i­cal think­ing in pur­suit of a more up-to-date syn­the­sis of faith and rea­son in the pop­u­lar af­fir­ma­tion of in­di­vid­ual free­dom known as ex­is­ten­tial­ism. While he did not live long enough to for­mu­late a new fu­sion of the­o­log­i­cal ra­tio­nal­ism, as in the Re­li­gion of Hu­man­ity cre­ated by 19th cen­tury philoso­pher Au­guste Comte, his cre­ative prac­tice in the co­in­ci­dence of psy­cho­log­i­cal op­po­sites led him to the all-too-hu­man con­clu­sion that some ques­tions are more dif­fi­cult to ask than to an­swer.

WAK­ING FROM SLEEP OF REA­SON

Fird­evs Kay­han cu­rated the seven artists ex­hib­ited for “La Chute” at REM with high school lit­er­a­ture teacher M. Wenda Koyuncu, whose knowl­edge of clas­sic Turk­ish au­thors like the is­lan­der Sait Faik Abasıyanık and ex­iled Nazım Hik­met in­forms his cross­over aes­thetic from the seed idea of an in­flu­en­tial book to in­no­va­tive con­cep­tu­al­iza­tions in draw­ing, pho­tog­ra­phy, sculp­ture and video art by liv­ing con­tem­po­raries. Mehmet Kahra­man, the di­rec­tor and founder of REM Art Space, likens Koyuncu’s cu­ra­tion for “La Chute” as writ­ing an ab­stract tome in a purely vis­ual lan­guage. Against the blank page of REM’s space as the first of many gal­leries that opened in Çukur­cuma in the last three years, “La Chute” is a sto­ried hall of mir­rors re­flect­ing an in­fi­nite kalei­do­scope of nar­ra­tive in­ter­pre­ta­tions and is set in a place that breathes with such in­tel­lec­tual diver­sity.

There are many sto­ries within the story of the “La Chute” show. Each se­ries of se­lected art rep­re­sents a dif­fer­ent chap­ter, and within ev­ery piece there are plots, sce­nar­ios, pro­files and tes­ti­monies. İl­han Sayın first leads eyes from the en­trance to REM with the sub­tle grace of his pen­cil, out­lin­ing empti­ness in scenes drawn with a nat­u­ral­ist min­i­mal­ism and washed in the white of noth­ing­ness, the in­escapable maw of the un­known, the un­seen. Its bleak water­front land­scapes con­jure an ear­lier book by Ca­mus, his fa­mous “The Stranger,” in which an Arab man is mur­dered by a French colo­nial on the beach in the piv­otal scene. The Turk­ish ver­sion was trans­lated by Zeki Demirkubuz and ti­tled “Yazgı,” mean­ing fate. The in­ter­twin­ing themes of phys­i­cal at­trac­tion and racism equally fas­ci­nated French colo­nial in­tel­lec­tual Frantz Fanon who saw a con­nec­tion to his­toric power in the drama of hu­man re­la­tion­ships on an in­di­vid­ual, phys­i­cal level.

“Civ­i­liza­tion de­con­structs the land, but na­ture pre­serves it­self and reap­pears. On the edge, you feel like fall­ing. Af­ter so many civ­i­liza­tions, we still feel like we are about to fall. The works re­mind us that civ­i­liza­tion al­ways fails to meet the needs of hu­man progress,” said Koyuncu about the work of Sayın to in­tro­duce the un­der­ly­ing mo­tifs in “La Chute.” “As a cu­ra­tor, I choose art­works as points for dis­cus­sion. I have pro­duced po­lit­i­cal ex­hi­bi­tions. “La Chute” is more con­cep­tual. It’s not about pol­i­tics. It’s clean.”

INTO THE WIDEN­ING ABYSS

On the wall op­po­site Sayın’s draw­ings in the REM foyer, the “Koltuk­lar” (Couches) pho­tographs by Borga Kan­türk leave be­hind traces of the past from the stark im­pres­sions of a couch cush­ion and the sharp an­gle of win­dow light on an empty sofa. In color and black and white, he tells sto­ries in si­lence with­out char­ac­ters where all sense of set­ting is re­duced to a flat, un­em­bel­lished fo­cus on the blind­ingly mun­dane. With all of the tra­di­tional ef­fect known to mod­ern and con­tem­po­rary art, “La Chute” is con­fronta­tional, break­ing down the lines of rea­son that di­vide viewer and cre­ator from pieces of novel hu­man in­ven­tion. At the core is the sculp­ture Dip Za­manı (Bot­tom Time, 2018) by İrem Tok, deep­en­ing the show’s sur­re­al­ism from Kan­türk’s couches to the piled lawn chairs of Zeren Gök­tan’s pho­to­graph, “Ark­abahçe” (Back­gar­den).

“Bot­tom Time” at heart is a com­i­cal piece, play­ing with the ba­sic ab­sence of util­ity that haunts the vast ma­jor­ity of artis­tic cre­ation while cre­at­ing some­thing that would be use­ful, only its orig­i­nal form is ren­dered in­ept when made into art ob­ject. The cu­ra­tion at REM is in di­rect di­a­logue with “Yüzücu” (Swim­mer, 2017), a video by Müge Yıldız shot dur­ing her res­i­dency in Ruse, Bul­garia, and made with a spe­cial thanks to an­other artist at “La Chute,” the Ice­landic per­for­mance artist Magn&ua­cute;s Logi Kristins­son. In the pas­sen­ger seat, a fish­eye lens cap­tures Kristins­son’s sto­ry­telling as he re­lays an ex­per­i­ment he con­ducted on him­self in which he sub­jected his body to a sur­prise marathon with­out hav­ing trained at all.

“La Chute” ex­hibits Kristins­son’s 9-minute video mono­logue, “I tried my best to see my name there,” with a sense of hu­mor as icily dry as the north­ern winds in Fin­land, where he lives. He talks about the ab­sur­dity of his fall from the ideals of fame and recog­ni­tion to the re­al­i­ties of time and for­get­ful­ness. Af­ter run­ning be­tween an am­bu­lance and the fin­ish line, wait­ing to see his name there, and with his body in a state of emer­gency, he fi­nally crosses the end only to re­al­ize that he en­tered the race under some­one else’s name. “I tried my best to see my name there” is sim­i­lar to “Bot­tom Time” in that the art - in this case the artist’s body - is made use­less by the to­tal ex­haus­tion of his un­trained physique.

“As some­one en­ters, the space feels big­ger and big­ger, into the empti­ness. I first trans­formed the old frame shop into a popup ex­hi­bi­tion called ‘The Dust of Time,’ and the land­lord liked the ex­hi­bi­tion. It then be­came REM Art Space,” said Kahra­man, who for­merly worked as a cu­ra­tor and pro­gram man­ager at Mixer gallery in To­phane un­til leav­ing to be­come a more in­de­pen­dent cu­ra­tor, at which point he founded REM, which will open a new, spa­cious events space at its lo­ca­tion by the end of April. “Dur­ing R.E.M. [Rapid Eye Move­ment] sleep, if you have a dream, you can re­al­ize it. Artists al­ways have dreams, but they don’t al­ways have the op­por­tu­nity to re­al­ize them. We can co­op­er­ate with them to re­al­ize them.”

M. Wenda Koyuncu and Fird­evs Kay­han cu­rated the pho­to­graph se­ries by Borga Kan­türk called “Koltuk­lar” (Couches, 2013) to add the ef­fect of past traces left be­hind by an un­know­able pres­ence.

Zeren Gök­tan’s sur­re­al­ist pho­to­graph “Ark­abahçe” (Back­gar­den) is from her “Bek­len­medik Hareketler” (Un­ex­pected Ac­tion) se­ries from 2017 ex­hib­ited in “La Chute” at the back of the spa­cious in­te­rior in­side REM Art Space.

Müge Yıldız cre­ated her video piece “Swim­mer” (2017) at a res­i­dency in Ruse, Bul­garia with a spe­cial thanks to Mag­nús Loti Kristins­son, a per­for­mance artist from Ice­land.

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