As an artist and a researcher, I’ve started to focus on “nature” since I’ve been working in the south-eastern part of Turkey. When I was observing the light, the shadows in the open landscape, what has emerged as the aesthetic was also revealed the politics of the hidden, the unsaid, which has been kept through the years. It was possible to observe and relate the feeling and thoughts of people to the nature itself and I conducted a three years artistic research on tree branches at this area, especially by looking at the trees growing in and around the city Mardin. The branches I chose to represent were gathered together to form an ARBORETUM of grief.
I was after a certain grief inherent to the painful land. Not only in this project, but also in “Odd friends they were” (in collaboration with artists Evrim Kavcar and Evren Erlevent) and in “Perfect Unhappiness”, I tried to figure out and bring forth a pastoral incompatibility. Paysage of an unknown territory evokes certain emotions to the unfamiliar eye. These emotions are triggered either by history, myth, relevant narratives that are strictly related to power relations or by memory. I aim to bring out a memory-work through personal and collective recollections of the land where a silent mourning, a still presence of absence hanged on air. Through these relations and emotions, I am interested to bring out a silent dialogue and turn it into a relentless play. I’ve decided to name this exhibition ARBORETUM (museum of trees) in order to trace back human and nature (human as told historically in line with the hegemonic power and nature as kept to be gazed in the museum) incompatibility and convey the border between death (as the museum) and life (as what’s left outside the walls of the museum).
Technically, at first, I was drawing branches of different trees at different times of the year on computer as digital vectors, and later these digital drawings’ information were transmitted onto the paper via CNC laser print machine. On the prints, the paper was cut through the branches, leaving slightly burnt brown paper at the edges. An empty background supported by a thick wooden frame let the branches make their own shadow cast to the off-white background.
By looking at the trunk of the tree with the branches spread around, I was photographing, rearranging the frame of the branches later to be drawn digitally on computer. ARBORETUM series has emerged by printing these branches images that are measured accordingly taking account of the technical principal of a working Cnc laser machine. The drawing occurred like a negative drawing focusing on the closed circles in order to enable laser cut through these defined lines, which later brought up the foreground image, the trunk and the branches tied up to the frame. So drawing not the branches but the voids between the branches was one of the challenges. The other challenge was to experiment and decide the right temperature and pressure of the laser for those really tiny branches so that they don’t get burned.
The frames of the branches, which constitute ARBORETUM series, are named after the time zone they have been recorded like the title “The End of July” (ARBORETUM no: 19). There will be around 20 frames each juxtaposed to one another, differ in scale, placed on to the wall. Some frames show different parts of the same tree, photographed at the same time, and these frames will be hanged on the wall leaving less space in between compared to the larger space left by other frames showing different trees at different times of the year.
Work in progress:
1- Beside these positive prints, tracing of branches, there will be negative prints. These prints will be smaller in scale, probably 15 x 15 cm, and they will be hanged on to the wall following a grid system like tiles. These negative prints will be made up of leaves of a fig tree. Each 15 x 15 cm paper will hold a negative leaf. The burning degrees of paper will be altered by CNC laser machine in order to expose different samples of burning. Individual leaves will be gathered to form a metaphorical archive for a documentation of death, a form of mourning keeping and collecting the presence of absence.
Fig tree is chosen in order to represent mythical references of life, prosperity, fertility, wisdom, power in more or less every culture existing.
The negative prints of leaves of a fig tree will be arranged orderly on the wall without a frame to support this time. They will be hanged loose exposed to the breeze or humidity in the gallery space.
2- A video will be projected on to the wall showing a pinecone explosion in slow motion. Different dry pinecones will be shot on to the wall by the help of a sling outside in the afternoon daylight. This piece is made up after an episode of children battlefield play, which I came across with; children were throwing pinecones to each other at the upper side of old Mardin streets. That was at the blockade time.
At the video the sling is not shown. However the sling is drawn again negatively on a long paper in real size at shooting position. The laser cut sling space on the long paper will aim at the pinecones shown in the video. The long paper will be folded equally in order to make the paper stand on a pedestal on its own.