Recently we have been exploring more specific, and overall, more satisfying subject matter. Last week was another mentally demanding week but now we feel generally more comfortable being here and have become more acclimatized. It is perhaps made easier by the fact that the temperature has dropped since arriving to something more bearable and we have our appetites back.
Minou has been working in the dance studio with a company of dancers who will eventually perform several times around Istanbul. At least, this looks to be the case and it would only fail to happen if the company suffered some loss in the form of members leaving; unlikely in any case. I have been trying to find myself some form of detachment from the project so that I too can have my own “space”. Fortunately I have two canvases now in the Studio that Kemal Seyhan has very generously lent to me and I am extremely grateful for. I had been getting tense, what with my feelings being built up without any tactile release into a medium like oil paint. Editing film is obviously not tactile and if anything editing actually makes me feel very squalid and sedentary. I feel as though, for all the pro’s that technology gives us in terms of networking, communications, and providing a means for improving our lives, I feel that actually, what with the hub of all these technologies being the flat screens (or otherwise) that we site down before and gaze, this is a gross way of existing and any prolonged exposure to this situation makes us physically aware of this grossness. Just a thought.
This last week saw us visit and work in and around Tophane Mosque where we generated a great deal of footage that we are currently in the process of sorting. Some of this footage will be used but of course the processes that need to be done in terms of selection, editing, orientation, and then proofing will take some time. The footage is currently being considered for a very informal film short that will incorporate as much as it can from our current environment. How can we provide the maximum amount of information and still have our artistic reactions/feelings intact within a body of work that is to inform and not to confuse. There are many divides in the Arts in terms of what is valid subject matter and what is the purpose of the art, as well as what may be used to judge a piece of contemporary art. For example there may be a clear delineation between those who value modern abstract expressionism for its lack of subjective narrative and those who value photographic realism for its emphasis on providing an illusion and it being of something that can be firmly stated to require skill. Other parties might bundle these to one side and say that modern art and classical representational works both fail to mean anything, both being critical of the materials that they are composed of; instead, one should look to see how the audience feels, what does the art say, art being a language and a study of the human capacity to stimulate and captivate the senses. Such arguments go on and they cause a lot of confusion for those artists who seek to make work within this infrastructure. Admittedly there is a lot of romance involved in these arguments and a lot of unsupported claims and ideals are made for art that can not honestly be upheld. Still I hope that we can make something that is relevant to how we feel.
A big influence on the way that we perceive this city is our naivety to it. We have to be constantly learning because that is the only way to understand and to know. One begins to stop making parallels between East and West because one is not living with the reality of such disparity, we are living in a site that it is what it is. The notion of the two living side by side could not be made by some-one living here because the East and West can only be departed from this site. This would be ground zero and only a traveller could make that assumption.
Anyway we watched some very interesting anime last night, one particular short film was called ‘Franz Kafka’s A Country Doctor’. This was made by Yamamura Koji and it won an Excellence Prize at the 11th Japan Media Arts Festival. There were other films by Kato Kunio but these where generally not too my taste, however there was one episode of ‘The Diary of Tortov Roddle’ that was of particular interest. The way in which the subtitles and the music worked together gave the piece of work a very curious feel.
I am hoping to give English classes whilst I am here to subsidise my life. As this is an expensive place to be perhaps things will work out. I hope so.
I have thoughts for site based works here… The calligraphy in the Tophane mosque was made by a man named Mustafa Rakim. Rakim died in 1826 but his work is still phenomenal. At some point I will elucidate upon my thoughts to do with Rakim and particularly his calligraphy.