Last night, in front of the Queen Anne’s Lace piece I hung up the two large photographs bound for Cracow in a few days. I had originally intended to hang these from a clothesline in either the ruined house at the top of the hill or, possibly, one of the ruined windmills. However, when I was downstairs in the studio in the morning unpacking my tube, I noticed the two trees standing just outside with the town panorama in the background and thought that it might work to install them there. I put up the string but when I tried to affix one of the prints, the wind was just too strong; rather than ripple gently in the breeze, the print was swung violently up in the air so I decided against it. Instead, I grabbed two more wooden easels, set them up on either side of the still life, and hung the two photographs from the line strung between them. I was interested in seeing how they would look in the candlelight. I also decided that I would perform some calisthenics in front of them to see what these movements would look like captured on film. I liked the shadows created by the movements of my arms, legs and hair and the way that my moving body became translucent when photographed in front of the still objects, all except my feet.
Saturday – market day in Turgutreis. After breakfast with Seray, I grabbed my bike and rode up the hill towards the gumbet – disused cistern – at the top of the hill and took the opportunity to take a few pictures of my little Styrofoam lily pad koreks, still floating around on the water along with the discarded pop and water bottles and other assorted junk. Whitewashed the last time I’d seen it, between now and then the cistern has been spray painted with graffiti once again. I rode up and over the hill behind the Academy, pausing briefly at the top to take a few pictures of the ten day vacation homes, so named because they’re owned by foreigners who only use them ten days a year. Other than that, they stand vacant.
Earlier this week, I received an email from the President of the Cracow International Print Triennial informing me that my works had qualified to the Phase 2 of selection of the International Print Triennial Krakow 2009. The deadline for submission is June 15 – not very far away – and so I needed to get my work printed so it can be sent off tout suite. Asking around the market area for large format printing, a restaurateur took me to a tiny stationery and art supplies shop which, lo and behold, had a large format printer. Amazingly, I had my flash drive in my purse with two of the images on it (this without any planning at all on my part) – what are the chances of that, I thought to myself. Anyway, I watched and waited as the guy and his helper printed out my pictures in between helping what seemed like a million people with photocopy jobs. With my two rolled prints in hand, I then hunted around for a big plastic tube, finally finding one at a hardware store. I inserted the prints into the tube, taped up the ends with plastic and strapped the whole thing to my bike’s crossbar with two luggage straps bought at the dollar store. Because the tube is quite big around, it was difficult to ride since my left knee was pointed out at an awkward angle. Anyway, I managed to make my way out of town back along the main road and decided to stop at the Kadikalesi beach for a break. After enjoying some time at the Kekik Beach Bar in Kadikalesi, I rearranged my tube on my handlebars and pedaled back along the main drag.
Yesterday, I hopped on my bike, intending to retrieve my korek from the beach. When I got down there, though, I saw immediately that someone else had removed them for me – they were nowhere to be seen. Perhaps someone took a fancy to them and carried them off home – I hope so, rather that than have them end up in the garbage or burned. I stopped for a beer and a mixed toast at the Club Gumusluk restaurant and bar on the beach and shared my sausage and cheese sandwich with a pregnant cat who had a tiny triangular face and a largish belly. I am a sucker for Turkish cats. On the way back, I acquired more korek stalks from the hillside to replace those lost and some stalks of Queen Anne’s lace with which I will compose a still life assemblage later.
Over the past few days I have painted ten thin banners of translucent tracing paper in different colours to more or less match my painted korek stalks. I was thinking about hanging them up in a tetractys configuration behind an installation of korek, and then later making them into lamp shades to put around my tea light candles. I installed them in the studio on three pieces of string stretched between two easels, on either side of a still life of Queen Anne’s lace, two hands, a silver tea pot, korek heads and candles on the wooden table. On the floor in front of the table I placed the final two banners on either side of a pedestal with a still life of red and pink sardunya and jasmine flowers; on these banners I placed 6 glasses with silver korek heads resting in water and 6 small candles. I enjoyed the shadows cast by the plants on the wall and ceiling of the studio; these shadows moved and changed as the candles flickered and the water in the glasses trembled.
After having suspended the korek from a clothesline near the pond, the next day I placed them in the trees around one of Eyip’s figurative sculptures near the entrance to the Academy. I enjoyed seeing their bright colours against the pearly whiteness of the sculpture and also the shadows of the stalks as they fell across the figure. Since the ground around the Academy is rock-hard and pretty much impossible to dig into, I had decided last night that I would install the korek on the beach somehow, since the sand would be easier to work with. I gathered up my 6 smaller korek stalks, put them in a large blue garbage bag, hung my mannequin-hand bag over my handlebars, jumped on my bike and headed down to Gumusluk beach.
I first set up my small assemblage on the base of the abstracted figurative sculpture in the middle of the beach next to the cemented-over house. Then, spying two nice feathery trees in the sand a few meters away, I decided to move them there. I hung the red and gold tablecloth from one of the trees with string, then planted the six korek stalks and the two hands holding crepe paper ribbons in the sand around that tree. It was very windy and the ribbons blew briskly in the breeze. Seeing the coloured stalks standing around the slim white-painted tree trunk amused me and I lay on the sand for a while next to it. The sun was very warm and I watched two wind surfers struggle with the wind and try to zip across the bay on their boards. Since it was really too windy to try to ride back with my big bag of korek flapping into the bike tires, I simply left them planted there on the beach.
After having photographed my assemblage in the studio, I was curious to see what the objects would look like in full sun. I packed them up and brought them up to the terrace outside my room where i set them up on the table and ledge outside my door. I enjoyed the way the silver shone in the sunlight, particularly the small korek stalk.
Later in the evening, I moved the table to a different location, added my chair, and rearranged the items, photographing them against the backdrop of the valley and town below as evening fell.
The next morning, since I had packed everything in bags for transport anyway, I decided to set off on my bicycle for the 450 year old Byzantine church in Kadikalesi. I loaded myself down with all the gear required for a small shrine to be erected in that ruin of a church, my backpack on the back and two bags full hanging from the handlebars and banging into the front wheel as I pedaled, the wind not being as congenial as the other day when I rode laden. As usual, there was no one in the church and no one seemed at all interested in what I was doing – all the Armonia Holiday Village and Spa guests were lying prone poolside.
I decided to use one of the two niches left sort of intact to the left of what would have been the altar. The remains of tea light candles could be seen in this niche, as well as the one next to it and another little hole in the south wall. Also, little piles of rocks testified to small campfires in the near or distant past. I set up my little assemblage, watched the small candle flames gutter and the crepe paper ribbons flutter in the breeze, then packed it all up again and rolled back down the hill to the beach at Kadikalesi.
The art studios here at the Gumusluk Academy are spacious and it’s wonderful to have room to spread my material out and to be able to leave it up over a period of days. This piece includes 13 photographic images of my Kas mannequin piece projected on the wall behind a still life assemblage. The assemblage itself includes a small foreground altar with the mannequin’s hands holding the same tri coloured crepe paper ribbons I used in earlier pieces. I like this kind of self-referentiality; it allows a thread of connection between past and present.
Tonight’s installation represents a further evolution on the theme I have been pursuing. Rather than using a triangular composition, I arranged the red flowers in their glasses in the shape of a circle, with candles in between each one. On the floor in front of the wooden table I set up a small altarpiece, with my mannequin hands, crepe paper ribbons, a wine glass half full, all arranged on one of the beautiful table cloths I purchased at the market. To the side of this altar I placed a golden mortar and pestle, full of dried leaves, resting on a golden plate, balanced on a stone brick.
Spring is back in Gumusluk. A gorgeous sunny day with a fairly stiff wind greeted me this morning and I decided to ride my bike to Eski Karakaya (Old Black Stone) village. This tiny hamlet is located in the hills above Gumusluk, across the valley from the Academy, and can’t be seen from my balcony because it is on the other side of the hill. Both Nils and Pelin had told me about it, knowing my interest in ruins, and described it as a “dead village”.
I had to ask several people in the village how to get there and found the turn off at a roundabout not too far from the Academy but on the opposite side of the Berggruen Sitesi housing estate next to us. The small road headed straight up and wound its way along the mountain, up and up and up, past several groups of local houses, past what looked to be a strip mine, past the lone ruined light house on that side of the valley, and around the bend to the other side of the mountain. I could see the village on the hillside from the road. About half the stone houses looked to be ruined but the village did not appear to me to be “dead”. I could see several large and very nicely renovated stone houses with terraces and flowers stretching up the hill towards the kara kaya, black stone, that gives the village its name. I rode my bike as far up the hill as I could go, locked it up, and walked along a very tiny path through the grass to look at the houses. There are no streets as such here and no vehicles – cars must park at the entrance to the village where there is a tiny parking lot. I wandered down the hill and past several beautiful stone houses and saw the most enormous korek. So heavy that it tipped over, the plant was as huge as a tree. I plucked two dried korek from the hillside and carried them back with me balanced on the handle bars.
This evening’s still life is a continuation of yesterday’s. The korek have been moved to the floor, still in their tetractys configuration and have been replaced on the table-top by what I think are giant red carnations and tiny soft leafy fronds from the bottom of the korek stalks. I have also added larger leafy korek fronds to the top of the chair backs to enjoy the shadow they cast on the wall. I also like the reflection of the still life tableau in the large plate glass windows of the painting studio against the backdrop of the foliage outside.