Vasiyetimdir: Şafak Çatalbaş


From my dream diaries, dated January 12, 2013

A dystopic environment. A post-catastrophe, maybe a post-apocalyptic moment… After an earthquake, a flood, or a storm. All the buildings are knocked down except for one: an art museum. A large, solid structure, the only one that’s still standing. People are lining up by the entrance. Not for a museum visit or a sensational exhibition this time—the line is for job applications. This is the only surviving building and institution. Among all the ruins, this is the only place that could offer a “solid” job. The museum!

Everyone who survived the disaster is here to be able to move on, holding documents in their hands and standing in the seemingly endless line. Everyone, ranging from artists to janitors, is standing by the entrance. The reason is obvious: “Whoever loves his/her life should cultivate the arts.” Simply put, the exhibitions should go on, artists should make art, viewers should look, buyers should buy, sellers should sell. At any rate, the museum has to survive so that time continues to flow. EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING NEED EACH OTHER HERE. This is the only way to recover from the suspended time and to endure the cycle of life. Hang on, cultivate it! That’s a strange feeling. First in a long time, we are on the same boat, as it were. I feel good and bad, alive and dead at the same time. Everyone is so foreign and so familiar. We’re like the numb parts of the same body; the body has to be patient, with limited movements. We know this will pass, but we need to make some effort. Move, as long as you can, hang on, ah! It’s tingling badly… Wait for your turn, leave it to time.

I’m sitting on the stairs, holding a pen in my hand, which seems to have its own mind, arbitrarily not working, as well as an empty folder and an application form on my lap. Next to me, or rather sitting two steps down from me, there are two middle-aged men talking as they stare at me out of the corner of their eyes:  “This is not for women, why are they applying anyhow?” Maybe they mean art, cleaning, public relations, security, or just another line of work. I speak, without turning my head: “Times have changed.” I’m surprised at the clarity of my voice. Saying this sentence has never felt that so corporeal. Art has never felt this vital. A wet, skinny cat is rubbing up against my foot, trying to pull me down.

Şafak Çatalbaş is an artist based in Istanbul. Her work incorporates performative and introspective practices in a playful way, and weaves a network between dead zones of representation.

Translated from Turkish by Özge Ersoy

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

*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.