Ready-made like ‘Redimeyd’: Şakir Gökçebağ at the Ferda Art Platform
The ghost of Marcel Duchamp haunts the streets of Istanbul. Its silhouette disappears five floors higher in the Ralli Apartment floor of Şişli, where, for more than a decade, long queues have formed to enter the Syrian consulate. But above its weary worries of the world, the logic of the ordinary is overturned, while the concept of modern art of ready-made takes on a local Turkish air in the skillful hands of the artist Şakir Gökçebağ, whose inventive sculptures perform magic tricks with normative appearances. and the functionality of everyday household items.
A net stretched with clothespins comes to project an exotic naturalism, something among palm trees and calabashes. It evokes tropical scenes of fishermen carrying mounds of striped scales, their fins and tails flapping in the soft, wet vision of waves and workers. But the materials are likely to be found in a desk drawer. It is their suspension and the patterns of their repetition that prompt the imagination to tip the scales of wonder just enough for normalcy to be exposed as a thin, if not transparent, layer of consciousness.
The artist, like the poet, is a seer. They confer the gift of sight, not only physical, but towards the fusion of the intellect with that of the eye, to see, anything, in a more conscious, more creative way. This is part of Modernism’s escape from the confines of canvas frames and coats of sculpture upon which so many busts and portraits have lionized the Western canon with a delirious effect of self-congratulation. Arthur Rimbaud said it best, that the poet, just as much the artist, is a visionary after a “long, unlimited and systematized disorganization of all the senses”.
One of the first interventions Gökçebağ made in the decidedly white space of the Ferda Art Platform was a spatial normalizer, placing tools used to measure the straightness of walls and fixtures with that bubble floating between the lines to indicate the accuracy, flatness, total bore sensual perfection, flat and ready, already made. Gökçebağ has gone beyond the limits of the ready-made, restoring its artistic potential to its roots in sculpture, but also further, in dialogue with traditional Turkish craftsmanship.
To be a still form
In the vernacular of contemporary art, there is what is called a gesture, which is different from a notion, quite separate from an idea, and twice removed from this primordial principle of the concept. They are characterized by the performative resonance of the installation as an extension of the work of art. To open, “Redimeyd”, for example, there is a work by Gökçebağ composed entirely of hangers, glued to the wall as such, and even furnished with someone’s jacket, just for the finishing touch.
The hangers form an “X” shape, somewhat impractical considering the alphabetical aesthetic in contrast to the linearity of its standard use. There are two layers, suspended from the tops of the room, for symmetrical impact. And on the other side of the room, on the other side, is a real optical illusion of brooms, sliced to the side and placed successively, resulting in a sense of movement, however, always through the emphasis on the modified form of the cleaning utensil. Its dialogue with emptiness, or clarity, is, in this sense, appropriate.
Directly towards the rear of the Ferda art platform entering the gallery is a trio of works reminiscent of Bauhaus textiles whose color schemes and geometric patterns unfold in the adjoining rooms of Redimeyd as they encompass special reinterpretations of the Turkish carpet. In some houses in Anatolia, these ancient rugs are displayed, not only to cover the floor, but also as wall decorations. With a mind of negative ability, Gökçebağ cut out a variety of rugs, spreading them out, almost as if they were pieces of paper.
In one corner, only the hems of a carpet remain, with the exception of a single strip that crosses its body, eccentrically, although absolutely in accordance with the angular accuracy of the building’s architecture. Like the room with the brooms, there is also an optical illusion at work, as it occupies a degree of realism all its own, subjecting the space to its whims as its lines are in direct dialogue with points. benchmark that the eye would do. to stabilize his sight in the virgin whiteness of the cube of the gallery.
As a thought is rethought
The snaking tendrils of a carpet, carved into a single scribble, transformed the traditionalism of a folk craft into an abstraction of high contemporary art, playing with the choirs of reason that stigmatize change in the face of total metamorphosis. But there is a proud essence of carpet magic at work but, in its configuration, captivating like the art of marbled paper, resonating with its mythological spirit amid the fairy-like ambience of its origins in legends.
Another modified carpet work dances, inanimate, with special fascination, as it is on display almost entirely intact, with only two thin incisions through its core, which, piecemeal, wrap around its rectangular body to form galactic spirals. The driving quality of the work contrasts with other works of the same genre, more fixed. They are not so much “ready-mades” as arrangements of customary objects, used both in the vocabulary of domesticated modernity and in that of eternal tradition.
A room is dedicated to the installation of machine-made metal ladles. There is a row of nails on the wall, with which they are held, their handles protruding in different directions. The sensitivity of the exhibition goes beyond linguistic interpretation and has an abstract sculptural drift, something to smile about and move away after having encountered familiar objects lightened from the gravity of their daily use by the artistic context. It is therefore the role of contemporary art that draws its lovers from everyday monotony.
In 1917, Duchamp had a workshop in Manhattan where he kept many of his readymades, including the “Bicycle Wheel” (1916) and a coat rack entitled “Trap” (1917), which could have had a direct influence on Gökçebağ. Duchamp was repelled by the idea that art would be confined to a single sensory perception, namely sight. He called it “retinal art” and wanted to question the prevalence of handmade products within the traditional definition of art by highlighting the fruits of factory labor. Gökçebağ continued this conversation with “Redimeyd”, emphasizing the cultural relativity of banality as expressed in objects.