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Özgür Demirci’s exhibition titled “Anthology of Promises” can be seen at the Pilot Gallery

Özgür Demirci, in his works, draws attention to the fact that promises made during election periods are forgotten by society after the election, and draws attention to the fact that this forgetfulness creates a structure in which processes similar are repeated. The exhibition brings together videos, objects and installations that the artist has produced at the end of his reflection over the past three years.

We spoke with the artist.

– In the exhibition, in addition to the political subjects who do not keep their promises, there is also a criticism of the society which forgets these promises. How would you explain?

We can read the disappearance and oblivion that permeate the entire exhibition as a critique of society, which continues its existence, rather than a critique of a party or a political figure. We all experience the consequences of a community that appears to be on the level of belief and trust, but is led to believe by arguing about the dynamics of time or developing opposing discourses. The method of political persuasion is one of the most important methods of societies dominated by democracy. The majority of words spoken during the electoral process consist of words meant to create instantaneous effect and which cannot be turned into action. The catchy and provocative rhetoric said before the election plays an important role in the voter’s reflex. The more important problem is that the system, which ignores the existence of social mechanisms that will follow through on promises made, and leaves the pursuit of individual rights helpless in bureaucratic difficulties, continues in the same cycle. The exhibition, in which the state of hope and despair progresses in balance, proceeds by merging the text A New Beginning, which I wrote in letters of ice, in water and water coming from there transforming into a hope that will bring dried and undried plants to life in the next video. In my work entitled Ritual, which is the last part of the triptych video installation, we follow the effort to lose the promises of different political parties from different eras, which have now turned into a pile of meaningless words, out of context, in the cause and effect relationship you mentioned.


– According to your work “2.42”, which criticizes the current state of the economy, what are the economic changes in the art market?

2.42, which I discussed on the relationship between commodity and value, is a study that describes the current economic conditions of the country through this context. Since the production cost of 50 kuruş is 2 lira and 42 kuruş, the fact that the zinc and copper it contains can be sold for a higher price by smelting it can be read as a metamorphosis of the market value represented by the money. I can’t say that I have a great idea of ​​the art market, but it is obvious that surviving as an artist is directly proportional to the current economic conditions of the country. Funding from local and foreign sources is an important development in Turkey in recent years so that artists can realize their productions. It will be inclusive and functional that this created system will be a goal- and needs-based support, far from the fetishism of success in which artists compete with each other. For a sustainable artistic ecosystem, the existence of a system that supports the artist not only to produce but also to live will give hope.


– Your work entitled “Stay” carries/transmits the laws as in the ancient tablets. What kind of connection is there between perseverance and change?

The survival work is a continuation of my video work titled Everyone and Nobody in the Exhibition. In this study, I write the selected items on the basis of basic constitutional rights on polystyrene tablets, only piles of meaningless letters remain from these tablets, which quickly melt after the reaction with the chemical liquid in the aquarium. These articles, which are supposed to guarantee our rights in the constitution but which do not fulfill this function, can in fact be perceived as invisible or simply as piles of letters. The reason I wear these substances on marble tablets is the effort to make the invisible permanent. Assuming nothing in the universe is completely destroyed, one can read the transformation of matter as pure criticism. This transformation is also present in my other video works in the exhibition. The banner, which includes a selection of pledges made by many political parties during the electoral process, is slowly rubbed with stones thrown over it in an old quarry, after water in which the text A New Beginning, which I have written in the ice letters, which is in the first place in the triptych installation, melts and turns into water given to the plants that have begun to dry in the greenhouse, in the following video Its disappearance can be included in this process of transformation. The permanence or volatility of promises are predetermined conscious discourses in political methodology. The words spoken have an expiration date set within their target audience, which often expires the day after the election results. Since persistence is a continuous state, the continuity of the act of remembering is less than the continuity of forgetting. Habermas says that the target audience, called public opinion, does not form by itself, it is created. It is clear from the start that what was said was meant to be forgotten. Collective memory can be permanent and healing as the act of remembering takes shape in new forms with different forms of expression.


– In several of your works, there are words belonging to certain promises that you took from the circulars during the electoral process. What do you think is the main problem with the exhibition?

While working on this exhibition, I have tried to archive the pledges made by different political parties in local and legislative elections since the 1980s. When archiving, I have divided it into two main sub-headings, which are done and not done. The vast majority of the archive is under the dissatisfied. The promises made are not linked to the expectation of society, on the contrary, they are made up of the promises made after the expectation created. Aristotle says that knowing something is only possible by knowing the causes of that thing. Reading political history through cause and effect generally shows that we are stuck in similar cycles. A future built on a forgotten past is morbid, the pain returns. Byung-Chul Han defines no alternative as a political painkiller in his book Palliative Society. When you look at the political history of the country, often because of this lack of alternatives, problem of representation and forgotten past, the system resorts to short-acting painkillers which only cover the “systematic mess and frustrations ” underlined by Chul Han. The palliative policy does not have the courage to suffer. So everything continues as before. It is precisely this cycle that is the main problem of the exhibition. What I found is a criticism that a promise made for a purpose is not remembered after gaining power or failing. The promises I use in my works turn into meaningless stacks of letters because they have been twisted or taken out of context. Focused on social memory, this exhibition presents different forms of narration within the cause and effect relationship created.

Source: Cumhuriyet

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