I wrote my first will in 2014 on notes on my phone—after I was terrified by the idea that a potential villain-heir might exhibit my works at municipality galleries:
My organs, my skin and my face—if it’s still in good condition—shall be donated.
My bones shall be burnt to produce bone black pigment. This pigment shall be turned into spray paint and given away to activist groups for graffiti.
A foundation, initiated by Özge Ersoy and Yavuz Parlar, shall be created for my artworks and personal belongings. The income from the sales shall be used to support projects by artists/collectives younger than 35 years old.
But who would break my locked phone and get access to my will—a note hiding without a title among the other 105 notes? Would I share all my passwords with Özge and Yavuz when I’m alive then? And were they willing to accept such a responsibility after all? And also, why artists younger than 35 years old, really? Would the rest take care of themselves just like that?
Then I forgot it all, even before deciding not to think about it.
This was two years ago. Now there are so many new notes lined up after my will—shopping lists, email drafts, the best nail salon in Seoul, etc. In an evening when Özge, Merve, and I started to talk about wills and eventually initiated Vasiyetimdir, I found my will in the hodgepodge of notes—with tremendous difficulty—and I read it out loud. We were on a ferry on our way to Kadıköy. All the words I was uttering lost their meaning, the importance I gave to myself and my artworks became ludicrous, becoming one with the waves. I had no will when we got off the ferry.
In 2016, I wanted to write an anti-will for Vasiyetimdir. I tried to think about this will as a self-transformation rather than a simple passive act that other people would have to realize—I was inspired by Jodorowsky’s Psychomagic. I thought it would be possible to imagine a will where the inheritance would change as it would become independent from the transmissions from the past that had to be healed. Because otherwise the will could as well turn into a prophecy.
The will manifesto, the first clause, not to be continued:
“The will is an act, not a series of instructions.”
Apparently I didn’t think this was good enough and wrote another short paragraph titled “What do I not want to bequeath?”
Turkish people are interesting in the sense that they can infiltrate the traumatic history of their country in their very short lives—people who take a picture of both their histories and themselves while looking through the window of a car speeding at 140 km/h and pass down the copy of the copy of this image to the next generation as a heirloom item…
The most remarkable revolution for an individual and her works is to change herself and to trash the so-called representation crap sold as a keepsake.
I also shelved this note as a draft and kept on taking notes on my phone.
Note #15: I tried to write about wills in relation to the critique of the perception that women art professionals have to look masculine—something that’s been on my mind for a while. I don’t know how I got to this point.
Kafka’s The Castle or René Daumal’s Mount Analogue are renowned works that are unfinished, interrupted by the death of their author. I don’t believe in such a thing—there are no unfinished works. These are finished works in their incompleteness. Mount Analogue ends on page 113—it isn’t left unfinished on page 113. The very lack of title in Chapter 5 completes the work. Conclusion: I couldn’t connect it to the idea of will, I trashed it, and then retrieved it from trash.
In the last three years, I collected many wishful wills like these. Whatever I wrote felt narrow, sour, prosaic. After all, could a will stay the same when we are ever-changing beings? Am I the one who created works and that I is the same as the one who is writing this right now*
*Not half-finished but completed.
Translated from the Turkish by Özge Ersoy
For the original text, click here.
Aslı Çavuşoğlu (b. 1982, Istanbul) lives and works in Istanbul. She received her BA in Cinema-TV at the Marmara University, Istanbul. Recent solo shows include Red / Red, MATHAF Arab Museum of Modern Art, Qatar (2016); The Stones Talk, ARTER, Istanbul, (2013); and Murder in Three Acts, Delfina Foundation, London (2013). Recent group shows include Manipulate the World, Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Colori, Castello di Rivoli, Torino (2017); What Do People Do For Money,Manifesta11, Zurich (2016); Saltwater, The 14th Istanbul Biennial; Surround Audience, New Museum, NYC (2015); The Crime Was Almost Perfect, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (2014); Signs Taken in Wonder at MAK Museum in Vienna (2013); and Performa 11, NYC (2011).
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 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.