Vasiyetimdir: CANAN

I would like to share with you three things that I immediately thought of when I received the invitation to contribute to this project. I would like to keep the emotional attachment I have with my works separate from my will and to emphasize how important it is for me that my daughter gets a fair share from my works, which I consider to be part of cultural production.

A genuine work is the concrete expression of an artist’s inner, physical, and cerebral/intellectual life. It draws from both individual and social life as well as the unconscious. Artworks are the custodians of visual memory—they write visual history. In this sense, artworks become public at the moment of their exhibition. An artwork might be part of a private or institutional collection and that does not change the fact that it is already public. Therefore private or institutional collectors are the voluntary caretakers of artworks—not their owners. When they agree to take care of the works, they should accept the responsibility to preserve them and to make them public. And when they undertake this responsibility, they have to exhibit the work as the artist requires it to be shown, because the work can speak to the viewer’s senses and reach them in a real sense only if it is exhibited within the artist’s requirements. It is my will that my works are exhibited in public spaces rather than kept locked in storage. 

Although I signed my works as Canan Şenol up until 2010, it is my will that I am referred to as CANAN in future exhibitions.

I don’t see it necessary that my unfinished work is completed or that my works at the studio are sorted out. Unfinished works are unfinished. No one should give an opinion about how they should be organized. Even I cannot predict what they would be as they are simply unfinished. They are the artist’s notes, not half-done artworks!

Translated from the Turkish by Özge Ersoy

For the original text, click here.

CANAN is an artist based in Istanbul. Her recent solo exhibitions include Behind Mount Qaf, ARTER, Istanbul (2017), Shining Darkness, RAMPA, Istanbul (2016), and I Beg You Please Do Not Speak To Me Of Love, Siyah Beyaz Gallery, Ankara (2014). She participated in various group exhibitions, including Mother Tongue, Interkulturelt Museum, Oslo, Sandnes Kunstforening, Sandnes, Bodø Kunstforening, Bodø, Buskerud Kunstsenter, Drammen, and Stiftelsen 3,14, Bergen (2015–2017); Jameel Prize, Asia Cultural Centre, Gwangju and Pera Museum, Istanbul (2016); Too early, too late: Middle East and Modernity, Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna, Bologna (2015); Signs Taken in Wonder, MAK Museum, Vienna and Kunstverein Hannover, Hannover (2013); In What Language Shall I Tell You My Story, Stedelijk Museum Schiedam (2012); ACT V: Power Alone, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (2010); the 11th International Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul (2009); and Global Feminisms, Brooklyn Museum, New York (2007).

Vasiyetimdir* is a publication project that aims to explore how artworks 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.