‘Vasiyet im dir:
To start with “Vasiyet im dir” feels a bit like a made-up game. Like the ones often used by contemporary artists. As one of them, I like word plays, in gratitude to Duchamp. The game is not something that can just be played and forgotten about though. When I take out the punctuation marks outside the word and write, “Vasiyet im dir” a lot of alternative meanings suddenly emerge. This leads me to where I’d like to go.
While writing this text, I experienced the strangeness of writing a will—maybe you’ll feel the same way while you’re reading it. It felt so difficult. Things I made fun of, claiming ownership after death—all of which I had struck under the belt up until now—I wandered in these areas. I was reminded of death-loving conversations, had by people who had gossiped endlessly about the professor who passed away. The only will I had were the jokes I made not to have my dead body in the O.H. lounge. When it becomes serious or when art seeps into it… I went from the “im” (the sign) to the “vasiyet” (the will) and I’m stuck there.
To leave behind a will for the art that you made not to die… A will is something that is written not to die, but obviously people still die and leave behind their wills—it is an attempt to guarantee the after-death. The will, when it is connected to rules, guarantees the not dying. As if you take ownership of what you have done even if after you die. Leaving them to your kids, to humanity…???
Humanity, with its ideas and its intelligence… Inheritance controlled by the family. Leaving a trace…
Poets, writers have left behind wills. Ece Ayhan also had a will. “I leave everything to time”…
Like I said, the will is something I looked at with irony, something that I hadn’t filled the blanks of with the needs of life. What were those needs?
After I die, don’t exhibit my works here or there, don’t sell to these people, pickle it! Nothing comes out of my mouth nor my pen…, my works. …. do this.
I’m not able to leave them to time either or is there anyone who doesn’t leave them to time? What would time do to my works? They were not only words, they had words. They were my ideas, what did they matter? I was a relaxed and uninhibited artist, I was whatever I was. I made art works. What would happen if one of my works ornamented the hallways of the Palace or the lounges? What would happen to my mind, my ideas, my life?
Then, it is my will that: My works shall not be exhibited in “palaces that are still like palaces.”
My will is about what would happen to my works. That means my works are valuable. My will, then, ties me down and also ties down what happens after me. Tarık Akan passed away. I don’t know if he had a will. What kind of a funeral service would he want?
What would happen if my works were exhibited in municipality galleries? Only in municipality galleries. Would they still be valuable? Would the municipalities give the permissions to have them exhibited?
I always thought I wrote on water. When I watched a student’s video, writing on water, I saw the impossibility of actually writing on water. The recorder recorded. They had written in the camera, not on the water. What was written on water couldn’t be seen again and again.
The will was invented for the system’s perpetuity. People didn’t want to die. They wanted to claim their things even after they died. “I made these things, I’ll share them when I want to and I won’t when I don’t want to.” They say. The ownership of what happens after death was about the sharing of the material.
For individuals to lose the spaces that they invaded is a necessity of the law of the continuation of the species. The passing on and progress of capital is under the guarantee of a will that constantly needs to be signed by death.
—Michel de Certeau
A will is also meant to share—to share your ideas, your invocations. Did Nazım Hikmet write a will for his poems? I don’t think so. Buuuuut, he had a will for his death through his poem. “Bury me in a village cemetery in Anatolia…”
I asked a younger generation artist. “What would you want to have happen to your work after you die?” She said, “I don’t know, I never thought about it. Maybe they’d give them away to friends and family.” (Then again she lives up on a mountain.)
A strange coincidence: Gökhan Anlağan’s son Fikret called me and we met up.
He didn’t know what to do with the paintings that he inherited from his father. In other words, he had a huge burden on his shoulders.
My daughter said that this is a very good question. While I never thought about this, she had already given this some thought, thinking about what she would do with all that work when her mother passed away. She asked me to write down what I wished would be done with my work. Age (19).
The minimum age to write a will is 15. Age (51). In other words, the reversal of the numbers. It is time…
Handwritten will: (Date and signature mandatory)
All the things that I have done and my life towards another unknown.
Verbally… Two witnesses are needed. (Charged with the duty of writing a will) Mother- father- child- are within the framework of the inheritance. The legislation of inheritance is leaning towards protecting the authority. Then the will finds its place.
If everyone were to start all over again… and I did start over.
My works should go into museums after I pass away. They should be stored, they should host specific concepts, taken out from the storage at pre-defined intervals. These concepts should be formed by the needs of the day (between the devil and the blue sea). They should present themselves in areas delineated by the trends of the day and stored by a specific community. Their contexts should not change. Is it mandatory?
I thought about museums but these words did not lead me to museums somehow. Far away from this business of wills, far away from museums. In this place that began with a rupture in history, the Painting and Sculpture Museum is established in 1937. Obviously, the idea of a museum doesn’t really settle down.
The things I have done are added on to the cultural industry. They present themselves, added on to each other. They are settled into the times that you lived in, the shared memory, they become witnesses, they speak. This is how societies, humanity create themselves, building and destroying identities. Is there a way to go back to the beginning? Not really. To go back to the times when accumulation was not invented, when people just lived, when they didn’t have names.
My name is Gülçin Aksoy, in short GA.
You can call me an artist. Or an art producer. What I have done was not written on water—if they mean something, they’ll be accumulated, if not, let them stay dispersed.
Death is our problem. Texts are documents of guarantee that step in after the silence of death.
Gülçin Aksoy completed her qualifications from postgraduate degrees in art at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University. She has been managing the Tapestry Studio at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Faculty of Fine Arts and has been on the teaching staff of the Painting Department since 1993. Without separating her artistic practice from her identity as an educator, she has taken a stance to both learn and to produce. In addition to several personal productions, she has been a part of many collective projects such as the ‘Atılkunst’ collective. She still continues her work as an artist and as an educator.
Translated from Turkish by Merve Ünsal
For the original text, click here.
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 m-est.org.
*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.