Control-lack of control, life-death
Years ago, when I received an invitation to make a retrospective exhibition, I realized that I had never thought about how my works would function all together. Old and new works, including those that I haven’t seen in years, all existed individually for me. During the preparation process of the exhibition, I thought it was fun to dwell upon how to bring together and juxtapose different works from different periods—just like a jigsaw puzzle. Going back to our subject—that is, my will—what I’d like to say is, I haven’t given too much thought about the existence of my works after I die. At best, I thought about whom my studio will cause a headache for, after I’m gone. I should just organize my works at the studio or at the storage, objects that I’ve collected so far, so that it wouldn’t be a big hassle to the person who’d have to decide what to keep and what to discard. Not having thought about what will happen after I die doesn’t mean that I’m not addicted to control. There’s no end to my obsessions and meticulousness when it comes to producing works. I’m also very meticulous when exhibiting my works but you can’t always control all. For instance, this may sound simple but the sound volume can become a problem. In some installations the sound has to fill the space but sometimes museums, institutional venues can annoyingly turn down the volume that I have set. It’s like lowering the sound at a concert. I mean, you sign contracts for under what conditions the work will be exhibited and you see that people do not conform to these requirements right under your nose, even while you’re at the exhibition venue—or you later hear about it from someone else. For example, a work with a stadium-type-of-lighting can be installed next to your work when it was made clear that darkness is required. Even though you don’t really want it you end up placing a curtain, because your artwork just wouldn’t work otherwise. If I wouldn’t be around, they would exhibit it just like that, bright and alight. These things happen while I’m there at the exhibition venue, while I’m alive. I wouldn’t want to be unfair to those who provide the perfect conditions for exhibiting. But what will happen after I die is completely unknown! Still and all, of course I include the required exhibiting specifications and conditions in contracts. At best, their implementations could be my will.
Translated from Turkish by Özge Ersoy
For the original text, click here.
Hale Tenger (b. 1960, Izmir) creates three dimensional narratives inspired by diverse historical, political, and psychosocial references. Built by an unconventional use of materials, audio and video, her works question State power and violence as well as the repressed aspects of both society and self. She has been represented by Galeri Nev Istanbul since 1990 and by Green Art Gallery Dubai since 2011. Tenger holds an MFA in Ceramics Istanbul Fine Arts Academy (now Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University) and South Glamorgan Institute of Higher Education (now Cardiff Metropolitan University). She lives and works in Istanbul.
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.