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Collaborative Projects


Project reciprocal visit .Next Project...

 

Selections from conversations among us:

 

With Serra Özhan, Selda Asal and Ceren Oykut about the project:

 

As the curator of the project, what will you be underlining? 

Serra: For my post-graduate studies, I specialized in “Geographies”: borders, maps, but in particular alternative map creating with the aim of softening these “border lines,” of “loosening the constrictions,” and a continuous activity of redefinition. And so it was within this context that the “Reciprocal Visit” project looked very exciting to me, as a way to break borders and definitions that have become cliché, or rather than breaking them, to blur their standard meanings.

 

The nation, the state, and borders are what we might call “identification zones.” Apart from the physical borders between countries, there is a second kind of border that derives from political conflicts between countries, and that turns those borders into walls: breaching those kinds of walls depends on the nationality inscribed in your passport and they can be difficult to breach even if you do manage to get a visa. Here it is the political wall that does not allow the passage of someone from Turkey to its border nation Armenia, or vice-versa. A similar wall exists also between Armenia and its eastern neighbour Azerbaijan.

The starting point of this project consists of those cultural interactions that invalidate all the stories invented by states concerning borders; in this case, the “reciprocal visit.” In spite of the quarrels between states, we shall embark upon an experimental journey involving a visit and a return visit.

 

Can you explain a little more just how this project will change definitions? 

Selda: When we first started discussing the project with Serra, it was never our primary aim to send a bus of peacemakers to Armenia, for the purpose of conducting studio work. The same can be said about alleviating political quarrels between countries, or experiencing these quarrels. The aim was mostly to set up an encounter on a multi-disciplinary platform, on the basis of a culture of reciprocal visits: different thoughts deriving from a collective activity, different experiences brought about by togetherness and sharing, various narratives born out of different materials… In a way, making borders “borderless”.

Later I was invited to the Gyumri Biennal in 2006 for an art project. When I visited an artist friend of mine in Erivan in their family home, I noticed for the first time how similar our traditions were.

For example, my friend’s mother had baked cookies for us, and then sent a plate full of them to her neighbor. A short while later, the same plate was returned, but not empty—it came back with 2 apples on it, and this led to a conversation about this exchange..

We see that, contrary to Western Europe, the culture of reciprocal visits is alive and well in Armenia, in Iran, in Azerbaijan, and in Georgia, just as it is in many Arab countries and in Turkey. For example, just as is the case in Turkey, a visit by a neighbor is appreciated even if you’re not yet acquainted. In fact, it’s not just appreciated, it is mandatory—a “must.” You take some candy or Turkish delight with you and go to say “hello.”

 

So this project is called ‘iade-i ziyaret’, because it will consist of our visits to Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia and of the reciprocal visits of two artists from each country: a concept that is familiar to the artists in these countries and to us. A concept that connects.

 

What about relations amongst the abovementioned countries? Won’t current relations make it a

difficult journey?

Yes, we won’t be able to directly cross the physical borders, we know that. Since the Gyumri border post is closed, we won’t be able to go enter Armenia directly from Turkey; instead, we’ll have to go to Iran first and from there to Azerbaijan, and since we shall not be able to cross over to Armenia from Azerbaijan, we will have to go to Georgia, and from there to Armenia. So, yes, we’ll be encountering such difficulties along the way. We might have problems in Iran, too, but I am sure that artists’ initiatives, with which we are in relation, will help us overcome many of those difficulties..

 

Are you saying that this is an experimental process?

Yes, exactly as we did in the case of Yalanla ilgili herşey, Hersey yolunda olacak (All about lies, ‘Everything’s gonna be alright’). There are no certain coordinates. The only element that is known is the work location. And that is a bus that is in constant movement. The talk in the bus, the sketches drawn, the photographs, the films shot, the preparatory work for animated cartoons; everything will happen within this process. I call this a free fall.

It is a risky process, but only as risky as previous exhibitions have been.

How did you select the participating artists?

I have given priority to people who have shown an enthusiastic interest in the project over the years as I’ve talked about it. Since the budget and the work space are limited, we had to limit our number to 15. Ceren, Serra and I thought about and discussed different people who we believed could contribute to the project, and who could provide different perspectives to it.

I distributed the notes that I had scribbled about the reasons for me preparing this project, and then we corresponded about the kinds of things they would like to do should they participate in this project.

The real determining factor was the participants’ desire to take part in this journey, and their ability to imagine the journey and their own contribution to it.

Being together with 15 people with strong egos on a single bus, for 15 days, and for 15-20 hours a day, is an highly significant experience. What kind of a product will come out of the confusion, of the probable confusion arising from people seeing, looking, taking notes with their own languages of expression, their own materials, and creating? What will happen?

The togetherness of different dynamics, and diverse directions, tendencies, and narratives deriving from these dynamics.. creating a visual, and audible language from these narratives.

 

 

Can you tell us something more about this different way of practicing art?

The Apartment Project’s aim had been to collectively create and produce different voices in exhibitions based on workshops. Thus, our previous exhibitions have already set a precedent for us. The project includes people who have all formulated their own languages within their own fields. As I see it, this makes the process even more exciting.

Short notes about the project with Ceren Oykut:

 

Ceren: As usual, my function will be to record on paper a state of observation that is half fantastic and half objective.

I shall try to form short stories in the format of comics; I’ll keep a log book of our togetherness and try to bring together the areas we shall be seeing and the borders we shall be crossing, in order to create a fantasy map.

Since we’ll be all shook up as we travel over the long, winding country roads, I can only guarantee rough sketches in the course of the trip itself.

I shall try to reach conclusions on the basis of details, and try to collect the talk, conversations, reciprocal looks, and togethernesses of single moments.

Geographical, topographical, and even zoological changes may be added. Just as miniaturist Nasuh did when drawing the collection of depictions of Sultan Süleyman’s campaign in Iraq…

This will be a very unique journey, and it will be my pleasure to be the Evliya Çelebi of this trip, keeping my log in the form of drawings.




Reciprocal Visit /reciprocal Return
What is iade-i Ziyaret (Reciprocal Visit)?
It is an experimental studio work made up of photographs, films, writings, interactions, and talks of participants from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, such as photography, video, music, staging, painting, sociology. The material is created while participants are on the road, at places where the stop, visit, or stay.

1. Period of studio work: 1 - 17  April 2009.
1. Location of the studio: I
nside the different minibuses that are going to be rented throughout the trip.
1. Route of studio work: Takes off from Turkey and proceeds through Georgia, Armenia, then again Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey.
1. Duration: 17 days.
Aims:
The aim is to let each participant describe his or her experiences in his or her own language.
This will help to reveal the different kinds of language that can be formed within a shared work time in a mobile space serving as a studio area during a 15-20 hour work schedule, as well as the the way in which individuals in a group emphasize different aspects of something, even when everyone is observing the same thing.
Scope: Sharing with local people the material created during the studio work in the cities, towns, and villages visited after having left Turkey, using the bus as an exhibition venue. Ensuring the participation of local practitioners of diverse fields, like the arts, history, journalism, or literature, so as to inspire and lay the groundwork for developing and fostering new perspectives and developments. 

2. Studio location: Tutun Deposu (17-31 July 2009)
The reciprocal visits to Istanbul of the artists whom we will have visited and worked together with in their own countries (Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Armenia), and the consequent joint creation at the Tutun Deposu (Tobacco Warehouse) art venue, will be the second phase of the project.




walking in Tehran


In Georgia / on the road

To Armenia / on the road

Selda Asal working with young girls: making them write lyrics about their
dreams and struggles. And in collaboration with a Georgian musician
she has created a music video in Tbilisi.



on the way to Tehran




us in Tehran
This projects is  realized under the X-OP project.
The X-OP project is multi-annual project, from 2008 to 2011, and is
supported by European Commission – Program Culture.


Project Coordinator: Serra Özhan
Artists:
Endam Acar
Selda Asal
Volkan Aslan
Fatma Çiftçi
 Zeren Göktan
Deniz Gül
Gözde Ilkin
Ceren Oykut
Gökçe Süvari
Sophia Tabatadze

The Apartment Project is working on its latest project called Reciprocal Visit. This project is associated with the work of the visual artist and the founder of the artist initiative Selda Asal who is the originator of the project's concept. The project is organized and curated by Serra Ozhan. Iade-i Ziyaret / Reciprocal Visit is an experimental workshop project made up of photographs, videos, writings, interactions, and talks by participants from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds such as photography, video, music, performance, painting, sociology. It takes its name from the culture of 'reciprocal visit' that is alive and well in Armenia, Iran, Azerbaijan, and Georgia as well as in many Arab countries and Turkey. The artistic material is created while participants are on the road, at places where they stop, visit, or stay.

Selections from conversations among us:
With Serra Özhan about the project:

As the curator of the project, what will you be underlining?
For my post-graduate studies, I specialized in 'Geographies': borders, maps, but in particular alternative map drawing with the aim of softening these 'border lines,' of ' loosening the constrictions,' and a continuous activity of redefinition. And so it was within this context that the 'Reciprocal Visit' project looked very exciting to me, as a way to break borders and definitions that have become cliché, or rather than breaking them, to blur their standard meanings.

The nation, the state, and borders are what we might call 'identification zones.' Apart from the physical borders between countries, there is a second kind of border that derives from political conflicts between countries, and that turns those borders into walls: breaching those kinds of walls depends on the nationality inscribed in your passport and they can be difficult to breach even if you do manage to get a visa. It is a kind of masonry that does not let someone from Turkey go into neighbouring Armenia, or vice-versa. A similar wall exists also between Armenia and its eastern neighbour Azerbaijan.
The starting point of this project consists of those cultural interactions that invalidate all the stories invented by states concerning borders; in this case, the 'reciprocal visit.' In spite of the quarrels between states, we shall embark upon an experimental journey involving a visit and a return visit.

Can you explain a little more just how this project will change definitions?

When we first started discussing the project with Selda, it was never our primary aim to send a bus of peacekeepers to Armenia, for the purpose of conducting studio work. The same can be said about alleviating political quarrels between countries, or experiencing these quarrels. The aim was mostly to set up an encounter on a multi-disciplinary platform, on the basis of a culture of reciprocal visits: different thoughts deriving from a collective activity, different experiences brought about by togetherness and sharing, various narratives born out of different materials.. In a way, making borders borderless.
To erode and even to eliminate the physical, political and conceptual obstacles created by borders, mostly by means of daily sharing of the 'here and now.'In this way, this 'experiencing project ' assumes a ' contemporary' posture. I shall try to think about the probable experiences of this trip through Giorgio Agamben's concept of 'singularity.' As for daily comparisons, I might use Michel de Certeau's 'daily practices.'

Of course, daily developments during the initial phase of this project, when it was still being formed, emphasized again and again the political aspect of borders, thus blatantly revealing their most discriminatory aspect.

A conversation with Selda Asal about the Project:
How did you come up with the idea for this project, and why did you decide to pursue it?

Actually, I came up with this project as a result of the synthesis of my experiences in many different places.
I was in Diyarbakir to study honor killings and to get some authorizations I needed for research.
A woman I met in the Women's Shelter told me a fairytale. This fairytale was one of the two important elements that led me to come up with this project.
The woman, who told me this story had heard it from one of the members of her family. This was the story:
A 13-year-old young girl had gone to the stream to wash laundry. She became thirsty, and so she drank a little water that she scooped up with her palm. What she did not realize was that together with the water she had swallowed the egg of a snake. As time went by, the snake grew, and as it grew, so did the girl's belly. Seeing this, the girl's family concluded that the girl must be pregnant and so they decided she would have to die. No matter what the girl told her family, she could not get anybody to believe her. Then one day, the girl went to the stream one last time, and there she cried until she fell asleep from exhaustion. Having heard the sound of the stream that was its natural home, the snake in the girl's belly slid out through the girl's mouth and returned to the stream. The girl's grandmother, who had witnessed all this, turned to the girl and told her, 'You see? As a young girl, you have to beare of everything you do, even if it's only drinking a few few drops of water.'

As someone who had grown up and studied at schools in the South East, and who was familiar with the stories of La Fontaine, Andersen, and the Brothers Grimm, I had tried to interpret the realities and difficulties of life, and to find solutions to them, through symbols described by the West. As the tales migrated towards the East, life was described through very different symbols deriving from local customs.
It was then that for the first time I began to ask myself questions like: Which tales can I collect as I am following these routes? How can I express these through the medium of film? What would Ceren Oykut draw in response to these tales? What kind of music would Serdar Ateser create on the basis of the sounds collected there? Or what kind of a sociological map would Neriman Polat obtain from these neighborhoods? As I was formulating these questions in my mind, I also started to ask myself questions like, how would such a journey reflect in the work of friends active in different disciplines, how would they work in a studio that was in constant movement?...

Later I was invited to the Gyumri Biennal in 2006 for an art project. When I visited an artist friend of mine in Yerevan  in their family home, I noticed for the first time how similar our traditions were.
For example, my friend's mother had baked cookies for us, and then sent a plate full of them to her neighbor. A short while later, the same plate was returned, but not empty. it came back with 2 apples on it, and this led to a conversation about this exchange..
We see that, contrary to Western Europe, the culture of reciprocal visits is alive and well in Armenia, in Iran, in Azerbaijan, and in Georgia, just as it is in many Arab countries and in Turkey. For example, just as is the case in Turkey, a visit by a neighbor is appreciated even if you're not yet acquainted. In fact, it's not just appreciated, it is mandatory a 'must.' You take some candy or Turkish delight with you and go to say 'hello.'

So this project is called 'iade-i ziyaret', because it will consist of our visits to Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia and of the reciprocal visits of two artists from each country: a concept that is familiar to the artists in these countries and to us. A concept that connects.

What about relations amongst the above-mentioned countries? Won't current relations make it a difficult journey?
Yes, we won't be able to directly cross the physical borders, we know that. Since the Gyumri border post is closed, we won't be able to go enter Armenia directly from Turkey; instead, we'll have to go to Iran first and from there to Azerbaijan, and since we shall not be able to cross over to Armenia from Azerbaijan, we will have to go to Georgia, and from there to Armenia. So, yes, we'll be encountering such difficulties along the way. We might have problems in Iran, too, but I am sure that artists' initiatives, with which we are in relation, will help us overcome many of those difficulties.

Are you saying that this is an experimental process?
Yes, exactly as we did in the case of Yalanla ilgili hersey, Hersey yolunda olacak (All about lies, Everything will be OK). There are no certain coordinates. The only element that is known is the work location. And that is a bus that is in constant movement. The talk in the bus, the sketches drawn, the photographs, the films shot, the preparatory work for animated cartoons; everything will happen within this process. I call this a free fall.
It is a risky process, but only as risky as previous exhibitions have been.

How did you select the participating artists?
I have given priority to people who have shown an enthusiastic interest in the project over the years as I've talked about it. Since the budget and the work space are limited, we had to limit our number to 15. Ceren, Serra, and I thought about and discussed different people who we believed could contribute to the project, and who could provide different perspectives to it.
I distributed the notes that I had scribbled about the reasons for me preparing this project, and then we corresponded about the kinds of things they would like to do should they participate in this project.
The real determining factor was the participants' desire to take part in this journey, and their ability to imagine the journey and their own contribution to it.
Being together with 15 people with strong egos on a single bus, for 15 days, and for 15-20 hours a day, is an highly significant experience. What kind of a product will come out of the confusion, of the probable confusion arising from people seeing, looking, taking notes with their own languages of expression, their own materials, and creating? What will happen?
The togetherness of different dynamics, and diverse directions, tendencies, and narratives deriving from these dynamics.. creating a visual, and audible language from these narratives.

Can you tell us something more about this different way of practicing art?
The Apartment Project's aim had been to collectively create and produce different voices in exhibitions based on workshops. Thus, our previous exhibitions have already set a precedent for us. The project includes people who have all formulated their own languages within their own fields.As I see it, this makes the process even more exciting.

This projects is  realized under the X-OP project.
The X-OP project is multi-annual project, from 2008 to 2011, and is
supported by European Commission – Program Culture.