Not all of us are collectors, or curators, or creatives for that matter that get art. However, we do believe in certain people to lead us in the right direction, and Suela J. Cennet takes the lead in that group. Hosting Turkish conceptual artist Deniz Gül’s third solo show in Turkey in her gallery The Pill between September 22 and November 20, we kindly asked Suela to talk to one of her favourite local artists, and ask about anything and everything there is to know on Loyelow, and more… Here is a brief conversation between the two…

SJC: You are at the heart of your exhibition period, that’s why my first question for you is “How are you?”

This and that… I’m rarely “so so.” “So so” is more explanatory, it’s like an outward eye. As soon as you say ‘this and that,’ distances between your states are more visible; when you say ‘so so,’ it’s as if the distance to yourself, your moods, and where you can objectively define yourself are observed better. Trying to be “so so” keeps one away from “yeah, it’s this” or “it’s that”, I guess it gives more space and clears the ground. There is also “It’s like this, when it’s this way.” I also encounter that often. Is it this way, is it that way? It is neither this way nor that way but… Can I say so so, I can try that in this conversation.

SJC: Loyelow, the fourth episode of the series that began with “5 Person Buffet” narrates a hero using symbols. We hear that in your installation, there are masculine visuals like a computer game, a swim mask, a rosary, and a playstation in your installations. Shall we look at it as if we’re wandering in a boy’s head or would it be unfair to put that restriction?

I’m interested in the idea of a work of art, we are in an age where we live our lives like heroes of a novel, there is an exhibitionist attitude in everyday life, our extensions have changed, they are busy with various media, we are deconstructing and reconstructing in fictional game zones of our selves, as extensions of fragmented identities, sometimes alienated, building ourselves as we are alienated and still as prisoners of a progressive mentality. Sometimes these novel heroes become the heroes of a game, then we simultaneously head out to different fields in sociopolitical geographies and sometimes we put blinders to our lives because of our interests. We can be everywhere at the same time, we are divided. I used to think that I was interested in what we call identity, belonging, and daily rituals. Now, I think I am interested in form. Some things are appearing; images, colours, words, gaps, attitudes… For me, form is a place where all differences come together in completion, get crystallized and manifested. To be interested in the idea of a work of art is something like this, to reach the objects, images and words of a whole, which is coming-to-be.

SJC: To associate text and objects is something we all do without noticing and for most of us it stays in our subconscious. That is why when we see an object from the past, we can’t make sense out of how we feel. Can your projects be infusing this sort of thinking practice to people?

Let’s imagine an urge or an instinct that leads one to an action. Sometimes there are no sentences, no interpretations, sometimes events occur just like that, sometimes words come out of your mouth just like that and as soon as they do, noooooo! You think, ‘I didn’t want to say it like that!’ If so, what did you want to say, how did you want it to be? I think we force too many meanings and responsibilities to the unbearable human psychology! The emotional state of words and objects from a memory-related zone settles in the body in a microsecond. Think about the pain of the body! How we train the brain, that we have to stay aware of exercising regularly. I’m trying to develop a language among these exercises. The first thing I tell to those who cannot associate with art is that art is a language and a place beyond language. Each artist opens doors, holes, builds games and structures.

SJC: All parts of the series, whether public or personal, somehow address our collective memory. How are the international reviews? Do you think it is appreciated as much as it is here?

There are some people who say art is also a stock market! This is an open-ended conversation where artistic production is emptied and considered to be among the network of public services, marketed in certain conceptual frames and terminologies; where motivations of production and distribution, networks, forms are shaped by new capitalism; where you can fall in some traps as it is categorized and fragmented as woman or man, Persian or Turkish, urbanized or refugee, atelier or street, new media or crafts, then you can be perceived, you internalize those appreciation mechanisms in which being perceived becomes pilular.

SJC: When you’re preparing these exhibitions you work like a maestro. You produce with craftsmen, which is a very extraverted behavior for an artist. How is this different than working isolated in a gallery, what kind of feelings does it arouse?

I think it’s like saying “To each their own.” There must be a place where you do something in a certain way, where you determine priorities in certain periods, where you observe your centre as you orbit together with the world. The word attitude perfectly contains this. Attitude covers all the techniques, how you manage networks and how you orientate. This is all I’m capable of. Everyone has their own story of their journey.

SJC: You work together with very specific craftsmen for cutting glass, making apartment plates, doing embroidery etc. What kind of a dialog do you develop with them? Are they surprised that you seek out for them, the pieces you demand etc.? Are they happy?

Craftsmen! It’s so beautiful to work with people who are good at what they do, who are profound, who go deeper! Each material has a different fusion point, right? Different temperatures, different materials, different reactions… Material has endless knowledge, it’s an abysm that craftsmen try to explore, with a trial and error period! Two people coming together is something like this. That’s the reason why I love to work with people. You begin to learn about an unknown world, start speaking a new language.

SJC: There is also a book coming out simultaneously with the exhibition. What kind of a synergy does it create? What kind of reactions do you get from those who first read your book before coming to the exhibition?

I am like a serial killer, a criminal who looks for traces after her characters. I formed this sentence when I read this question. If this were a comment made by someone else, I might have denied and said “I’m not like that.” Synergy has no control, just like this. It drives me to being unrestrained. I like that.

SJC: Do the objects we see in Loyelow have a traceable memory in your head? Or did you prepare them by observing others? And you’re using video for the first time. Can you also talk about that?

I can say that the pieces that form the exhibition are referenced from the imaginary world I constructed in the book… Before, I didn’t choose to get closer to the figure, I spent time with the effort of conceptualizing more vertical, more power-related, more objective reference points, but for the first time in this exhibition, the connection with the book and objects became so strong, now I’m not afraid in getting closer to either image or figure, the exhibition and the book ended up forming their own algorithm.

SJC: Words play a crucial part in the conception of your exhibitions, does it help you to break some sort of “barrier of censorship” by enabling ideas to transit from subconscious to conscious as Freud would put it?

I think we can read it like that without relating it to Freud. I’m absolutely emancipated in language and sound. In the question above, there is also a dark side to the objective reality that I’m trying to explain from a holistic point; it strangles one, it forces one, it humiliates one. However, language comes from within. For example, when I experience language as an external force, yes, because we live in a language, in a system and find meaning, still it’s possible to resist this external force within the abilities of language. I can swear, I can make fun of something, I can scream, I can be silent. I can use my creativity. However when I encounter an object, for example a bus, the crowd in a bus, physical limits of a bus, that creativity and emancipation in physical encounters are more conditional, more limited. Even though I have the possibility to grab the red hammer to break the bus window and throw myself out into traffic, I must censor this physical emotion of mine. Yes, as you said, I am living the limits of my higher self in the bus and objective reality. I get into this objective world through the language of my other selves. I can relax by saying that I threw myself out of that window. Film, painting, photography, object, performance…. Imagining in language. Absolutely more emancipating.

SJC: You have built an object-driven philosophy in which you believe that objects and places manifest themselves and cannot be exhausted by their relations with humans, that the reality of objects and spaces is always another reality. Does it make an echo with Plato’s philosophy? I inevitably think of the Allegory of the cave in his book the Republic…

At least I‘m trying to get closer to this idea. And this is after the exhibition, winking and saying this with the deterioration of this structure: Where am I? What kind of a place is this? What kind of a fiction am I in and how am I experiencing it? What was there before, what will be after me… Me, who cares…. There is something here. Things that became things… etc. As object-driven anthology still cannot find a discussion field among the categories of decorative art, art for art, art for society, conceptual art, contemporary art etc. in Turkey, yes let’s look at Plato, even to Plato’s “poiesis” which is a point of interest for me. But I also like to be crushed from the spirit of time, I wish that we’d discuss Heidegger’s “thingness of the thing.” Yet I can give myself the credit without running after genealogy. Graham Harman… Timothy Morton… From then flows desires, since I won’t be able to write names and explain line after line, I will leave that on the side, and go the other end and mention David Friedman who produced ideas on how an object can be given a meaning in anarco-capitalist order. When I’m in good condition, I’m a lover of philosophy, but in practice, I’m interested in nihilism. For example, here is how I keep myself in a condition: brushing my teeth every morning is an action. I don’t remember when I brought this into my life and when this put my life in this order. Brushing my teeth is a whole action that is free from how I am related to it, not yet functional/dysfunctional. One day there might be a pill to clean your teeth and maintain your oral health and let’s say brushing your teeth will be, can be out of style. Then what, will my teeth brushing act disappear in time? What will it be as a useless/unnecessary act, a ritual? I jumped to the ritual, the behavior and the belonging beyond the object. Now I’m rewinding back to the object. Tooth brush, what will happen to it? I am drawn to nihilist philosophy from such a point.

SJC: What does association mean to you?

Bingo! I answered your questions before reading them all and I guess I reached this question with my own answers. This is a question I think about a lot. I’m trying. I could not find another method other than to focus on staying in the moment. Possibilities appear in the moment. Discourses, speeches, borders, taboos, battalions, funerals, war… Fall of the object against the exaltation of the object… A relation and awareness clear from the effort of giving meaning to it. Waking up is a good metaphor. In order to wake up from my rudeness and illiteracy and desperation, I pinch myself.

SJC: Can you give some “keys of reading” for someone who hasn’t read your books?

Whether you read it or not, everybody reads what they know. They read what they hear, see, taste… You read yourself when you relate. Waking up is a nice metaphor, meditation is also a good key.

SJC: When you compare Loyelow to Turkey, what words do you think of?

What would it be in Turkish? Does it have an English equivalent to have a Turkish one? What is it? Turkish? No, no, something else… What does it have? A word, what does it have? Warmth. What does it have? Colour, What does it have? Time, What does it have? Expression, What does it have? Sound, What does it have? Movement, What does it have? A name, What does it have? Does it have a cat?

Photography: Fora Norman