Vasiyetimdir: Vahap Avşar

In the last few years, I have been thinking a lot about the question of what will happen to my work if I vanish. It is easy to imagine what happens to the work already out in the universe in the inventory of museums, galleries, and collectors. They will be taken care of as they represent a certain value for the beholder. Since I have a tendency to work on concepts, large-scale projects, or even a single painting for years and have the tendency not to finish works until they go out to be shown, the question becomes what will happen to my unfinished works? I know for sure that no one can finish them for me since there is no formula or recipe for how I would finish any given piece. Maybe that is why I wanted to consolidate all my works and materials in one place and I built a studio at my farm upstate New York, a safe house or maybe a tomb, not unlike the tomb of Midas in Gordion.

Now that I have this studio where I gathered all my books, archives of postcards, films, posters, and objects as well as unfinished and finished works, I spend days organizing them all at the end of every season. The end of seasons usually seem to demarcate the end of series of works I do as well which makes it possible to reorganize the studio for new body of works. I now realize, by doing so, I am hoping things will make sense for whoever is looking at the materials I accumulated over the decades as part of my practice.

If I do vanish unexpectedly, I wish all the finished works to be taken out and the unfinished works with the rest of the materials kept intact and shown as my final work. The issue is that a much larger space will be needed to show all the layers of materials I currently have in my archives. My ongoing project “AND museum” will require a separate space to show over twenty thousand of postcards, posters, and films.

—January 10, 2017, New York

Vahap Avşar, All the places you will go, 2016.
Vahap Avşar (b. 1965, Malatya) is an artist based in New York and Istanbul. Avşar attended Dokuz Eylül University Faculty of Fine Arts from 1985 to 1989 and Bilkent University Fine Arts Department from 1989 to 1995 where he earned a Master’s degree. He settled in New York after an artist’s residency program in 1995. His recent solo exhibitions include “Lost Shadows [AND Museum]”, P! – Protocinema, New York (2015), and “Lost Shadows”, SALT Beyoğlu, Istanbul (2015). Avşar has shown his works in group exhibitions at numerous institutions, including MAXXI Museo Nazionale Delle Arti del XXI Secolo, Rome; Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna; Istanbul Modern, Istanbul; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul; and Havana Biennial, among many others.

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.