17 Kasım 2014 Pazartesi


In this paper, I will question the relation between art and space through my works. The question that I have an urge to answer or justify why I ask it in the first place: “How can boundaries between an artwork and space disappear?”. I will analyze the works that I have produced and will produce that touches the boundaries. With consideration of public space as a multilayered notion I will try to explore these layers that can be sensed everyday. I will try to move my works, which I make with the motivation that Nicolas Bourriaud called “relational aesthetics”, out of my studio. I will design everyday encounters and will discuss how and why those works relating with space, how medium affecting this relation and what is the result of that kind of relation.

2 Kasım 2014 Pazar

Aesthetics of Relations

Keywords: aesthetics, relations, politics, public, contemporary art, Bourriaud, Bishop

Another article that I find resemblance with my questions is Relational Aesthetics by Nicolas Bourriaud and at the beginning of his article Bourriaud asks these questions as well: “What are the real challenges of contemporary art? What are its links with society, history and culture?” [1] I think to stay in the context or more importantly to have a context in the first place, these are very important starting points.
Bourriaud define the artistic activity as a game, whose forms, patterns and functions develop and evolve according to periods and social contexts; it is not an immutable essence. This is what creates relational form and relational form consists a possibility of relational art (an art taking as its theoretical horizon the realm of human interactions and its social context, rather than the assertion of an independent art and private symbolic space), points to a radical upheaval of the aesthetic, cultural and political goals introduced by modern art. According to him it is no longer possible to regard the contemporary work as a space to be walk through, instead it is presented as a period of time to be lived through, like an opening to unlimited discussion. It is similar to John Dewey’s definition of “live creature” linked to its environment in order to has experiences continuously.
He consider artwork as social interstice like Joseph Beuys considered it as a social sculpture and defended that contemporary art is developing a political project when it endeavors to move into relational realm by turning it into an issue. However Claire Bishop, in her article Antagonism and Relational Art challenged that approach. She asks in what type, for whom and why human relations should be produced through relational art? She find the “unlimited discussion” functionless and considers it as a celebration of what is already there. She promote that if a work of art is not disruptive it will never become a place where transformative change happens. [2]
I think the theory of Bourriaud has problematic sides, because he, as a curator, believes that social relations can be constructed through art institutions, but then the question Bishop asked become more meaningful. Since art institutions are not part of everyday life, relational art will not be relational enough to become poetic and public at the same time.

[1] Bourriaud, N. (1998), Relational Aesthetics
[2] Bishop, C. (2004), Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics

Aesthetics of Experience

Keywords: aesthetic experience, politics, public, contemporary art, Ranciere, Dewey, Leddy

The adjectives we keep using during the discussions about perception and experience of contemporary art are in a wide range. They reflect both positive and negative senses we get. Didactic, disturbing, cheap, shallow, repulsive or poetic, transformative, magical, impressive, subtle, ingenious, strong, or as a more common reaction: beautiful. Even though it is perfectly natural, something that someone find “beautiful” will be not beautiful for someone else, since appreciating art is deeply subjective, I got curios about the reason that makes public like or not like a contemporary artwork in public space.
Space and medium is closely relevant to the experience. As Jacques Ranciere pointed out, it’s not simply an instrument of art. It is the specific materiality that defines art’s essence.[1] When it is literature or music it is possible to make art without politicize it while offering a unique experience like Pessoa did with his poetry. However in visual arts, space as a part of the artwork, reflects its spatial character to work. That is why it is still possible to put a completely meaningless sculpture to an art gallery which is designed to have no character yet it would automatically be an artwork since gallery is a space to collect “art”.[2] But is it possible for same sculpture to stay meaningless in a public square where people can physically interact with it and receive it as a part of their everyday experience? Is it possible for something meaningless to keep being an artwork? Can meaninglessness and transformative experience survive together in a public space? Is it possible aesthetisize the political art in public space? Is it possible to write a poem through visual arts in public space?
Baumgarten defined aesthetic; a theory of aistheta, of things perceived, and of sensate thinking. In her book Çoğul Estetik, Jale Nejdet Erzen explaining the factors that effect our perception of art starting from the 19th century. Even though some of the explanations are still valid since then like cultural, psychological or biological, new approaches and perspectives emerge everyday.[3] What I want to focus is contemporary “everyday” aesthetics.
According to John Dewey, the quality of aesthetic experience is unity. It must pursue the fulfillment or completition of an object, or event so that the experience is presented in an integral way .[4] However Tom Leddy adds something else to that perspective: “the ordinary qua ordinary is uninteresting or boring and only becomes aesthetic when transformed” and affects that transformation through the notion of “aura”. To him, aura is not an aesthetic property but an experience of an object as “having the quality heightened significance in which it seems to extend beyond itself”. He defends we need to experience an object –or event in Deweyian sense- as (i) being somehow greater than itself, (ii) as having a surrounding “glow”, and as seeming more real and alive.[5]
Rancier on the other hand took the notion of aesthetic a step further by thinking it within the scope of contemporary art and come up with a new notion “politics of aesthetics”. He use the phrase “community of sense” in his article and defined it “as a frame of visibility and intelligibility that puts things or practices together under the same meaning which shapes thereby a certain sense of community. A community of sense is a certain cutting out of space and time that binds together practices, forms of visibility, and pattern of intelligibility. I call this cutting out and this linkage a partition of sensible.” Ranciere doesn’t specifically cover the public art and interaction yet he refers it when saying “Art and politics, in fact, are contingent configurations of the common that may or may not exist. Just as there is not always art (though there is always music, sculpture, dance and so on), there is not always politics (though there are always forms of power and consent). Politics exists in specific communities of sense. It exists as a dissensual supplement to the other forms of human gathering, as a polemical redistribution of objects and subjects, places and identities, spaces and times, visibilities and meanings.” [6] I think that is what makes the “mere experience” “an experience” as Dewey said and maybe when contradictions come together poems can emerge in public space.

[1] Ranciere, J. (2008) What Medium Can Mean?
[2] O’Doherty, B. (2010) Beyaz Küpün İçinde
[3] Erzen, J.N. (2011) Çoğul Estetik
[4] Dewey, J (1934) Art as Experience
[5] Leddy, T. (2012) The Extraordinary in the Ordinary: The Aesthetics of Everyday Life
[6] Ranciere, J. (2009) Contemporary Art and the Politics of Aesthetics

18 Ekim 2014 Cumartesi

Art - Space - Public II

According to Alan Gilbert, there is a certain relation between politics and imagination that determine artworks effect on public realm. The gesture of artist makes an artwork shallow, didactic, arrogant or poetic, subtle, sublime, magical. Discussions about transformative experiences and political statement of artworks, during the previous class made me wander the similarities and diversities between the experience of politically and socially engaged artworks and the experience for experience’s sake oriented ones.
The experience of artwork has different dimensions. For public art, The artist experiences it in real time by producing it within his/her own perspective, the audience in the public space experiences it individually or collaboratively by participating, the audience of the documentation of the work, experiences it later on by observing the “actual” participants within a timeless and spaceless context. It can be claimed it is easier to be convinced the transformative or the magical power of experience -if there is one- for someone who directly interacted with it. The interaction itself powerful enough to make someone feel special and important, to feel as a part of something extraordinary in an ordinary life, yet for the one who perceives it through a photograph, video or installation it is harder to do and requires something deeper and sophisticated to relate in that timeless and spaceless moment.
Joseph Beuys, Ausfegen (Sweeping Up), May 1st, 1972

Nicolas Bourriaud defines the concept of  Relational Aesthethics as " A set of artistic practices which take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context, rather than an independent and private space." The common issues that provoke and stimulate an individual in a very primitive way and used by many artists after 1960's such as gender, minority, migration, identity, ethics, labor can be considered as a part of that set. Animal rights, human rights and "right to the city" can be added to them as well. The issues that become medium in the mediumless-ness of contemporary art. They are not the titles of political messages that flow from artist to audience through the artwork, nor life lessons to be taught. They are the motivation behind the artwork that occurs to the artist, the experience and concerns of the artist about something greater than some inner struggles or existentialistic breakdowns. It is not necessarily pessimistic and dark attitude to look over the human kind, but it is a critical eye. It is not something that has been done to change the world and make it a better place but something that people who perceives it can understand and figure out the reasons their ungratefulness’ or gratefulness’ in order to be transformed.

11 Ekim 2014 Cumartesi

Art - Space - Public

Public space is political. It is political because it is where confrontation, common action and reconciliation happen. It is where we configure the relation our body with it. It is the playground of individuality and collectivity. Hence, as the boundaries between private and public space gets blurred, same happens to art production.
According to Groys; since Duchamp, the labor of division has collapsed in art context and art making is equal to displaying art. Subjects become objects. That attitude which emerged from Dadaism opened a new perspective for artists and eventually for the viewers.
The act of displaying art and using non-artistic materials made the space part of the work, which cannot be ignored while experiencing the work. As Kurt Schwitters showed with his work “Merzbau”, there was not a point where artwork ends and space begins anymore. As Fluxus artists showed there was no linear relation between disciplines of art and life anymore. Artwork become something to get in, to sit on, to touch and change or even complete. Instead of something beautiful to look at, it become the practice of everyday life that needs to co-exist with public.

Change of production and comprehension of the artworks changed the issues as well. Since public space is political the issues and motivations of artworks get political to. Participation, community, collectivity, intersubjectivity, migration, gender, identity and minority are some of the key concepts that public art nourished from. Taking those concepts back to where they come from, to the public space, is an opportunity to get closer “gesamtkunstwork” and experience what has not experienced yet.

10 Ekim 2014 Cuma

Art Spaces II

Considering space as a major reference and criteria reveals specialized sub-concepts in art production. Space becomes a medium in the manner of land art, site-specific art, and public installations while boundaries between disciplines collapse within those scopes. Using the nature both as an exhibition space and a material source in land art, reading a built environment with its flaws and unique qualities in site specific art, reclaiming the public space all over again through public installations open up new field of possibilities. The temporality of such approaches, the fleeting texture of attitudes and the coincidental encounters in public realm bring a depth to artworks with a different kind of experiment and most of the time; free the artwork from identical white cubes.

Art Spaces I

Every act of art has an undeniable and unbreakable relation with space even if it is intentional or not. However, hanging a painting on a wall or putting a sculpture to a public space comprise a different kind of comprehension of the space than hanging a specific painting on a specific wall or putting a site-specific sculpture to a public space. Space has potential to get more layers when it is defined by an artwork as artwork has potential to get more layers when its roots are strictly connected to the space that it is surrounded. I have an urge to find answers to those questions in order to generate new ones: How can the boundaries between an artwork and space can disappear? How can space be manipulated in order to evolve a natural exhibition space? What would be the evolution of the term “exhibition” when boundaries disappear? What are different ways of relating art to a space in different mediums? What is the role of architecture in that context?