Vasiyetimdir: Merve Ünsal

Short version:

Burn the diaries, take the cat.

Long version:

The below text relates to my artistic practice, including but not exclusive to: my work notebooks (clearly labeled as such), works of art (objects, unrealized or unrealizeable performance and/or installation ideas written down and clearly dated/labeled as such), documentations of performances, and all texts that have been published in one form or another.

My library, ideally, should retain its integrity and be donated as a whole to either an art school in need in Turkey or to Harran University. The upkeep of the library and the books is to be financed by proceeds and fees from my work.

All personal belongings are at the disposal and authority of my immediate family and can by no means be used in any exhibition or publication in any form.

Photographs of spaces I lived in and/or worked in can never be used in conjunction with my work in any form.

Portrait photographs can never be used in conjunction with my work in any form. If a face-based context is required by the curatorial framework, a still image from my performances may be used.

My immediate family is never to be asked about my personality or personal life. Actually, my immediate family should not be contacted in relation to my work, ever.

Once and when the proceeds from my work are sufficient to found an organization, an organization should be established. The whereabouts of the organization should be the most convenient for the persons founding the organization. The organization can be an association, a foundation or a for-profit company depending on the legal frameworks that are pertinent at the time.

Within the organization, all employees should be compensated fairly. The organization should not be established until sufficient funds to sustain the organization and the salaries of the organization have been secured. Fair compensation includes, but is not limited to: competitive wages, overtime, health insurance, and retirement funds. There are to be no unpaid internships under any circumstances.

My work should not be exhibited unless there is an artist’s fee. Even if it is a symbolic transaction, an exchange should take place for my work to be exhibited. This could be in the form of a book donated to the library, as long as the administrators of my will find that it is a fair exchange.

My work is not to be exhibited in exhibitions with titles that include the following words or their derivatives: Turkey, Istanbul, Women, Middle-East, Resistance, Revolutionary, Avant-Garde, Global, Conceptual.

My work should not be donated to institutions. If you liked it, you keep it. If you don’t like it any more, just sell it. I always wanted to partake in a mallet transaction.

If there are funds available to distribute after the organization’s costs have been met, it should be donated to Kadının İnsan Hakları – Yeni Çözümler Derneği.

Merve Ünsal is a visual artist based in Istanbul. In her works, she employs text and photography, possibly beyond their form. Merve holds an MFA in Photography and Related Media from Parsons The New School of Design and a BA in Art and Archaeology from Princeton University. She was recently a participant at the Homework Space Program 2014-15 at Ashkal Alwan, Beirut. She has participated in artist residencies at PRAKSIS, Delfina Foundation and the Banff Centre. Merve is the founding editor of

Vasiyetimdir* is a publication project that aims to explore how art works will subsist over long periods of time. Art works live in artist studios, private collections, museums, storage spaces, or simply in memories. But how far do the artists want to control what happens to their works when they are no longer? How do they want to exert their control? We directed these questions to the artists we are in dialogue with. We are accumulating their answers through

*Vasiyetimdir is a Turkish phrase that can roughly be translated into English as “It is my will that…” The phrase holds a tint of the melodramatic, mixed with a sentimental flair.

Vasiyetimdir was conceived by Aslı Çavuşoğlu, Özge Ersoy, and Merve Ünsal.