The Aesthetics of Everyday Life by Ezgi Bakçay Çolak, Co-curator
The belief in the liberatory potential of “everyday life” seems to have revived once again after the 90s, thanks to the effect of the urban uprisings that shook the world. Lefebvre is still as young as he was in ’68, Situationists are still angry, Bakhtin is still feeding riot with joy. Creative eruptions like those in the Gezi Park protests render the possibility of anti – capitalist lifestyle imaginable. Today we know how the infinite range of our carnal experiences, the bricolage of everyday objects and the combination of images can suddenly and unexpectedly infuse the idea of freedom into society.
A tangible and direct criticism of the ideology flourishes in the vastness of everyday life, “the world of ordinary things.” These shifts in everyday life, make representation systems a prominent interrogation field for arts and politics. Thus, a fresh morning breeze starts to blow from everyday life towards the field of art. This breeze carries out the inspiration for relationality, coincidence, spontaneity and productive encounter. All the inequalities and distinctions between aesthetics and politics, art and craft, contemporaneity and modernity, hand labour and mind labour, technology and cognition, the ordinary and the extraordinary are dispersed. That’s the perspective through which we approached the project “Redefining the Space of Everyday Life.” At the Istanbul leg of this dynamic and open – ended encounter, we reflected on the aesthetically re – embraced experience of everyday life that is undoubtedly spatial, with artists Kerem Ozan Bayraktar, Uğur Çolak, Meliha Sözeri and Bahadır Yıldız. We came together at Gaia with Peter Tzanev, Georgi Georgiev-Jorrras, Rada Boukova, Tzvetan Krastev and the project curator Irina Batkova. Kerem Ozan Bayraktar, Meliha Sözeri, Uğur Çolak and Bahadır Yıldız are brought together by the approaches that reverse the meaning of space and the objects of everyday life and create conflicts, gaps and hitches between different arrangements of meaning. The artists take off from the mundaneness of everyday life and create extraordinary situations. The dizzying variety of emotional spaces they create, scatter the cultural, geographical and political prejudices, making new coordinates within the viewers mind a possibility. The hovel and warm world of Bahadır Yıldız, the meticulous sterility of Kerem Ozan Bayraktar, the light and mass sculptures of Meliha Sözeri and the massless and non – coordinated photography of Uğur Çolak touch upon each other by creating contrast among themselves.
Bahadır Yıldız uses wooden objects with traditional functions: Prosthetic wooden feet, gas masks from the Second World War, windscreen wiper motor… The artist extracts images from his own memory and unclaimed memories. Objects of everyday life assume a troubling subjectivity, a human shaped emotionality in the absence of their owners and when they are stripped of their value of use. Autobiographical traces, images of local culture and works that carry psychoanalytic connotations are all a little sad and also a lot ironic. Bahadır Yıld›z continues to wander around the surrealist flea market. However, he also passionately executes his craft at his stall with passion. He incorporates handicraft into the area of modern art both philosophically and aesthetically.
Meliha Sözeri interprets “everyday life” as being here at present. She “plants” bodies to rescue words from sentences, de facto meanings and the structural requirements of language and tack them to the “present time.” On her sculptures, when objects from everyday lifejust like words – lose their value of use, they put on a ghost-like transparency and a surprising mass. Meliha Sözeri thinks about the labour processes as well. She carries her mode of production that is the sewing machine to the area of the arts as an aesthetic product, enabling transitivity between varying categories of creative labour. What is the difference between an ordinary commodity and an object of art? What kinds of relationships are established between language, image and truth? How can we reproduce transparency as an aesthetical – political value? As a sculptor Meliha Sözeri seems to have “lightened the burdens” of existence in the field of modern art.
Kerem Ozan Bayraktar is a fan without blades, a broken machine, a mute orator, a functionless labourer of pleasure. He sets off our expectations while moving resolutely on his course. Our bodies awaken with lust. However this bizarre object leaves the viewer dissatisfied. It only makes us feel the absence of the breeze it points out. The absence of the expected impact fills a several – meter gap to the brim. A majority of works by Kerem Ozan Bayraktar carries this troubling halo. His video titled “Weight” allegorically describes the interaction of the concept of pain in traditional Western narrative with the body and time through the relationship between a mourning child and the apples that fall from an ailing tree. Throughout the video, a solitarily depicted child and the child’s struggle to heal this ambiguous loss is described within an implicit mythological context. Kerem Ozan Bayraktar creates an ice-cold experience regarding relationality in everyday life.
Uğur Çolak interprets the extent of everyday life as a procreative carrier of space. He keeps action, time and subject outside and renders the space expectant of a multitude of meaning. This is a shallow, centerless and massless world in which a homogenous light is dispersed over almost monochromatic surfaces. His photographs reveal the equalizing, balancing and remedial effects of everyday life. The dream of a paradise in which the garrulous mind falls asleep and nature, animals and bodies are freed from gravity. According to the artist, this paradise can only be achieved temporarily, when it suddenly sparkles within everyday life. Being right there at that moment and looking at it is only possible through photography.