Vasiyetimdir: Sevil Tunaboylu

I had first encountered the phrase “Vasiyetimdir” in a film. Yıldız Kenter was in it. A womanwas writing down something, sitting alone in a room, . When she was finished, she slowly folded the piece of paper and placed it in an envelope. She wrote, “vasiyetimdir,” on the envelope and put it in a drawer. She lifted her head both victoriously and wistfully and she stared out of the window, as if gazing into the horizon line. At that moment, somebody switched the channel. It must have been my uncle. It was an evening when we went to their house to visit and the television was on. I was in middle-school, I must have been thirteen years old or so. Since then, I always thought about what I would write if I wrote a will.

I feel that I won’t live for too long. And this feeling makes me look behind all the time. It seems like I have the whole city’s garbage behind me. The destiny of all the objects, photographs that I collected, all the works I made or are in progress is a huge mystery. I’d prefer to leave a clean world behind the door that I closed, never to open again. I’d like for anyone who enters to find a spot for themselves. This wish that I inherited from my mother doesn’t have much to do with the future of my art works, or to use a word that I dislike, my career.

It is quite a probable destiny in the city I live in. When one of the minibuses going back and forth between Beşiktaş and Taksim just happened go through the intersection where a car bomb exploded, I found myself at my friend’s funeral two days later. Everything that made Istanbul what it is disappearing in front of your eyes… Emek Cinema, Narmanlı Han, Tarlabaşı, İstiklâl Avenue and now the Karaköy Passenger Lounge. The moment you step outside of your house, the possibility of being destroyed is after you. When the situation is as such, it’d make sense to make a decision on what they should do with my mortality very soon.

My works are primarily paintings. The digitized versions are already on various friends’ hard drives. Most of my paintings are on canvas. They could stay in the storage spaces of friends I trust. They could roll the paintings so that they wouldn’t take up too much space. The frames could be burned in stoves. My friends could also just distribute my paintings among themselves. They could hang them on their walls. Since they know that I’d never give my works to auction, they wouldn’t let my paintings sell for almost nothing. If this happens, there is nothing left to do. The worst would be that I’d turn in my grave. They wouldn’t leave my paintings to a gallery. That’s what I’d hope. If there were requests to exhibit my paintings, those few people I trust could easily make those decisions. If there is a sale, whoever made the sale can pocket the money.

But who are these? What if they all die before me? Darn! And where are these storage spaces? What if there were a horrible earthquake and everything was destroyed? What if there were a fire? Everything would become ash? I’m too lazy to organize myself against all these possibilities. I’m wandering in the moment, in my past, and have small dreams of the future. I reassure myself, everything is temporary.

Translated from Turkish by Merve Ünsal

For the original text, click here

Sevil Tunaboylu (b. 1982, Istanbul) received a BA in Painting from Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University. Her first solo exhibition I Watched It As It Disappeared On the Horizon took place in Sanatorium in 2012. It was followed by her second solo exhibition In My Mind, also in Sanatorium in 2015. In addition to these, her works were selected to various group exhibition since 2003. Some of the major exhibitions Tunaboylu participated in are Stay With Me, Apartment Project Berlin (2014), Distance and Contact, Baksı Museum (2012), Fictions and Dissensions, 3rd Çanakkale Biennial (2012), and Where the Fire Has Struck, DEPO (2011). Tunaboylu 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

*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.