Vasiyetimdir: Ayfer Karabıyık

When I received the invitation to write a will, I first thought that I’d certainly enjoy thinking about it, as I’m currently not working with a gallery and none of my works, except my writing, entered institutional archives. This is why I never had to contemplate about the juridical fate of my works, including copyrights, intellectual property rights, or estates. On one occasion, I learned that a private collector owned a couple of my works when I heard that one of them literally fell off of the wall, hitting his head. What I’d like to say is I’ve only just started thinking about what will happen to my works after I’m no longer.

When I was perusing Gaston Bachelard’s Air and Dreams—a book that a friend of mine made a lot of effort to find in a library abroad for me—I got hooked on the question of “how the imaginary is immanent in the real.” This was when I remembered a problem we had when we were exchanging memories in a family gathering. When I was a kid, my family had to relocate to another apartment when our roof collapsed due to heavy rain. In later years, my mother told me that we never lived in that apartment I thought we moved into temporarily. When I told her the details that stuck with me, she said that the apartment I was talking about was the one among many apartments we simply visited to consider for renting. In the end, she told me, we had chosen another apartment. I wondered, were my memories simply a dream? If yes, how did the dream come to take over my memory? What did that mean, if I weren’t a little mythomane?

Now that you’re reading my will, I’d like to fantasize a bit, as I assume that I’m technically dead and no one is going to take me seriously. Imagine that there is a new museum called “Bureaucratic Anxiety”—a Kafkaesque and Nesinesque museum (Hello Aziz Nesin!) that archives and exhibits all pretentious nonsense specific to Turkey, represented through simulations and holograms. Imagine that no one goes through any bureaucratic anxiety outside of the museum and one only goes there to experience such anxiety as one wishes. The museum could exhibit all the letters of application, defense, investigations, court cases, mobbings, and other unidentified things that trigger anxiety in my life, just as a deterrent to others. I’d like to think about it as if I’m donating my body for anatomical study.

Or imagine there is a museum called “Cock a Snook at Boris Groys: A Museum Against Museums” that collects works from artists who criticize museum policies and the art market. Artists could then be able to offer their criticisms and not to make artwork à la vogue as their gallery demands, while enjoying the hosting of a prestigious museum at the same time.

Or imagine “The Museum of Did-You-Mistake-the-Art-Work-for-a-Sand-Bag-Fuck-You.” This museum could archive all the art works that have been damaged by the public in the past, as well as all the related articles, curses, outbreaks, and compliments. If possible, Gürdal Duyar’s displaced sculpture Beautiful Istanbul could be displaced once again and exhibited here. The t-rex sculpture of Ankara could eat up the carrot sculpture at the Beypazarı Square.

“The Museum of Did-You-Mistake-the-Art-Work-for-a-Sand-Bag-Fuck-You” could absorb all existing urges for violence by spreading out electromagnetic waves so that we don’t need spectacular, vertical, iconic monuments any more.

Or imagine “Any Places in All Places,” a Perecian center for artistic research that hosts workshops on archiving (Hello Georges Perec!). This museum could inquire into my books 21st-Century,  How Did I Meet Alexander von Humboldt and Four Seasons. In commemoration of Perec, they could make a film about the book How to Approach the Department Chief to Ask for a Raise to be donated to the “Anxiety Museum.”

Well, I’ve talked to my lawyer friend. It doesn’t mean anything to write a Hollywoodesque will. All wills have to comply with the regulations of the Civil Code and finally get notarized. For procedural reasons, there should be a mortal individual, two witnesses, and a civil servant.

In recent years, we’ve adopted new patterns: We want to hear from loved ones much more often, we give advice on how to survive, and we offer each other prescriptions for what to do in case something bad happens to one of us. I was here, too. I witnessed life with passion and transformed what I witnessed and produced them into documents. I was inspired by books-songs-streets-signs-words-voices-actions-reflexes-codes-dancing-snowflakes-spaceflights-wormholes-watching-the-bacterias-living-on-my-eyelashes-and-nature. So everything I have collected and transformed into something else could as well go back to where they came from. If my works aggregate value, arouse curiosity, and get archived, they will surely find a place in the spirit of the space and time.

Ayfer Karabıyık (b. 1976, Erzurum) is an artist based in Istanbul. Her work explores the notions of found object, museum, and archive. Recent solo exhibitions include Have We Ever Become Modern?, 5533, Istanbul (2014), Phosphorus Patrol, Hush Gallery, Istanbul (2013), and Explosion, Tophane-i Amire, Istanbul (2011). Karabıyık obtained a Proficiency in Arts from the Painting Department at the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University. She is currently a researcher at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the Sakarya University.

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.