Through July 16, Detour at SPACES Gallery presents the work of five artists rerouted by an obstruction. Last month, prior to the exhibit's opening, the artists met to discuss their practices and share their areas of comfort and discomfort. By the end of the evening, each was assigned an obstacle by his or her peers. Their challenge was to create work for the exhibit while dealing with the assigned obstacle, all the while paired with a documentarian who would provide "color commentary" on the process. OhioAuthority arts writer and critic Eleanor LeBeau was asked to participate; this is the second in a series of her blogs - originally published on SPACES' website - documenting the experience of artist Arzu Ozkal. Join SPACES for Detour through July 16.
THE ENDURANCE PERFORMANCE: Day Two
I wake excited and panicked. How am I going to pull off this play-by-play color commentary? I have obstacles, too:
- Day job
- Distance from here to Oberlin
- Access to Arzu
Plus another big one: Is it even possible to document the creative process? Especially the creation of a performance? All I know is what Arzu tells me verbally and in writing. In the name of mischevious play, she could very well mislead me. There are no sketches or maquettes to give snapshots of her thoughts.
How does she work? Does she make notes? Write a performance score? Does it happen all in her head? I drink three cups of coffee (milk, no sugar). I listen to music—not NPR’s morning news—on my commute to work. I don’t need anything else to fill my head.
I’m at my day job. Arzu beams an email while she’s in class at Oberlin: I have some ideas forming. Shall we meet tomorrow night to discuss? I have to meet with a choreographer at 4 (yes for Detour), so it would have to be after 6, if that’s okay with you.
A choreographer! What kind?
I hit Arzu’s Web site to learn more about her work. I watch a half-dozen videos. I read everything, except for an article written in Turkish. Slam! I’m shut out. Now that’s a pedagogical moment. Here’s a CliffsNotes version of her practice. Keep in mind that form and content are inextricably intertwined:
- New Media: video, Web sites, sound
- Public interventions
- Objects: original and appropriated
- Graphic Design
- The body as a site of social and political discourse.
- The body as a site of state surveillance and control.
- How is “knowledge” produced?
- What is the relationship between “knowledge” and myth?
- Semiotics: The processes of signification: How do words and objects accrue and produce meaning?
- Strategies used by the “state” to inculcate feelings of nationalism—i.e. a collective identity and goals—in its citizens. How and why do national symbols like flags evoke profound feelings of nationalism? How is language used to inculcate identity?
- What is the purpose of nationalism?
- Homogeneity is a consequence of nationalism. What are the consequences of homogeneity?
- Personalized digital technologies can be used as a form of government and corporate surveillance. Arzu writes in “Technology Hijacking the Public Sphere,” a 2006 paper delivered at a symposium in Istanbul: Today, everyone in the world—even the youngest member of the populace—is encouraged to connect and stay connected to the network 24/7. It looks great to see those mini-laptops-for-children campaigns in the name of supporting education. Certainly, there will be many positive imapcts. But on the other hand, one should not dismiss that every computer hooked up to the network, every IP address assigned to a person will identify another traceable individual to be surveyed for national security and/or corporate interest.
- The effects of war on children.
- Strategies for breaking down socioeconomic and racial/ethnic barriers in communities.
- The power of passive resistance.