Iron Inside Out

November 8 — December 6, 2014

Sair Nedim Caddesi No: 21a
Akaretler 34357 Besiktas
Istanbul / Turkey
T (+90) 212 3270800
F (+90) 212 3270801

Iron Inside Out
by Cem Bölüktas

In her first solo exhibition in Turkey, Iron Inside Out, Çagdas Kahriman brings together the series she has produced between 2011 and 2014.

Based on the integration and disintegration of diverse media like drawing, collage/decollage and animation, the exhibition “Iron Inside Out” derives its name from an ironing technique recommended for sensitive materials. Whilst the word “iron/ironing” evokes a sense of hardness, ruthlessness (Iron Lady), pressure and oppression, the artist also uses the term in order to emphasize the fragility of her materials and abstractify her creative process, thereby creating a kind of “plateau”[1]. Thus, the artist presents a map to create rhizomatic connections to experience each work and the relations between. In result a multiple system of reading will ocur and create formal, visual and contextual intersections between the series.

An overview of Çagdas Kahriman’s oeuvre will reveal that the artist borrows from her drawing practice to treat her surfaces with lines and curves. She then employs the cut-and-paste technique (with more concentration on cutting) to incorporate extra depth into/onto these surfaces. Through the impressions they leave on the surfaces, the addition/subtraction of these lines and strata allows the artist to experience the transformation and manipulation of her materials. In this way, not only does she develop a singular production in the context of formation/deformation, but she also addresses certain contemporary traumas.

What the artist tries to convey through the concept of “the residue of life” – which comes forth in nearly all of her works in this selection – is a matter of “becoming” that is incomplete and in a constant state of active composition (state of becoming), transcending all substance that “has been” and any potential “to become”. It is an ongoing process. In other words, what we see here are fragments of a life passage which encompasses all that was and can be experienced. It brings to mind Hoffmanstal’s concept of the “landscape out of pure life” quoted by Walter Benjamin in his book “Paris, Capital of the Nineteenth Century”. Kahriman dwells on the contemporary dilemma of production and consumption to create mental landscapes. On the one hand, she transforms the space of time (Zeitraum) into the space of dreams (Zeit-traum) and on the other, she constructs unconventional links between the cliché of the consumer society and new collective means of productions by re-connecting the Human to Nature. She develops new perspectives through constantly mutating her materials and thematic subjects.

Kahriman relies on the often unnoticed details of the day-to-day life to make visible certain historical, socio-political, aesthetic and even metaphysical realities. Creating aesthetic images through the technique of collage/decollage, she builds a tension between the nature of her materials and the (referential) possibilities inherent in their areas of use. Although the artist’s practice of decollage (cutting, rip up and etching) and collage involves a diverse range of materials, the outcome is simple, modest and yet at the same time complex and layered. Éclat (collage) series have a visual remblance to the Eye (decollage) but in fact a completely different technique is employed. Referring to the double meaning of the French word “éclat” that translates as both “a crack” and “bright”, the artist cuts and pastes each individual piece, tenaciously constructing the crack to its very last detail.
In Radiographies and Prairials, Kahriman projects photographs of rubbish heaps from the streets of Paris onto photo blocks and borrows the incision technique used in surgical medicine to open cracks upon these images. In Radiographies, the artist interprets the waste not as the miserable setting of the typical urban life but as the residue of a collective life, transforming them into mental landscapes. The series entitled “Prairial” evokes the blossoming of ideas and new beginnings. The title of the work is also the name given to the ninth month – corresponding to May-June in the Gregorian calender – in the republican and secular calendar which became effective for a short term during the French Revolution.

In Çagdas Kahriman’s drawings (Wooding, Glitch, Autopsy of a Dialogue and Fringe series), one can observe that motifs adorned with fine and subtle expressions that are sensitive to daily interactions and personal activities are integrated with different materials and practices. In the Fringe series, the concept of emptiness/fullness – as described in François Cheng’s book Vide et Plein, le langage pictural chinois (Emptiness and Fullness, Chinese pictorial language) – evokes a kind of cosmology with spiritual overtones. Here, emptiness (the void) is treated as an inner space comprising of vital respiration webs. In Fringe, Kahriman reflects on the oppositional concepts of emptiness/fullness while focusing on the peripheral microcosmos. Whereas in Glitch, the oppositions are replaced with an arrangement that is at times short-circuited or completely deactivated with interruptions of fluidity and discontinuity. Here, tracing papers are cut into strips and reassembled in random strata. Thus, the integrity of the image is deformed, estheticized through a manner of pixelization and the meaning is obscured to attain a poetic quality.

In “Zone of Turbulence” we are (not) able to see the human fragments – composed out of acetate paper – caught in turbulence. Should we perceive this object in perpetual revolution as a visual refrain (ritournelle)? The non-metric, circular rhythm of the refrain transforms into a motif through deterritorialization. Thus, the human fragments in turbulence defy perception. In other words, the “thing”, in process of constant distortion and transformation assumes a pre-formal state and becomes chaotic. Is not the chaos/cosmos/chaosmos considerably vital here? In Wooding where the artist uses the same material, the theme of vitality is subjected to a different treatment. In this work, while the light/shadow plays created by the acetate paper are converged through a drawing technique, the curves and the (unforeseen) lines create a visual rhythm/arrhythmia. The curvatures and shadows perpetually relocate in and among the motifs and bright colours of the acetate paper, carrying a motion of reciprocity. With the plastic elements coming into play, the curvy motifs of nature oscillate between tensions of unity and opposition.

Wooding Vortex depicts an artificial organism forced to a machine-aided life by the human who’s serving his own need for the organism to be alive. In a system whereby the rulership interprets and treats the earth not as a living organism but merely a land for investment, and the urban planners – in servitude of the system – determine the boundaries of both the natural and social texture, what’s in question here is the paradox of whether the tree nourishes the human, or vice versa?

[1] A term borrowed from Bateson by Deleuze and Guattari – the philosophers of aberrant movements – in their writing of A Thousand Plateaus, “plateau” is used as a form of creation and agencement in terms of practical thought. Just like regions of continuous intensity, it is a simple and yet abstract concept. The plateau is a lateral, literary, epistemological and non-hierarchical area of experience that is proposed for the formation of potential connections between the elements (webs) of the Rhizome. It comprises of fragments. The actions that bind the Plateau and the Rhizome are expansion, flow and intersections. Rhizomes are the open-ended, productive agencement in random associations and connections that impel, divert and abstractify the relationships between the pieces. Any part of the rhizome – without a distinctive beginning or an end – may be giving form to an environment that is connected to another part and is decentralized. Some assemblages and typologies may change, divide and multiply through various and complex encounters and signs.

Credit Photos : Erwann Chabot