Filed under: Ritual and Repetition
Arzu Ozkal Telhan – Cambridge Massachusetts
Culture inscribes its mark in bold letters affirming “human” on the surface of the body at the first moment of “being.” After being entitled as “human,” one would notice the vocabulary to define “human” is limited only to dichotomies: male/female, good/bad, pretty/ugly, us/them …
I don’t think that I ever sought for a definition of my human being until I left my native country – Turkey – four years ago. I had never thought that language, which holds the connection between mind and object, introduces the individual to the collective voice and vocabulary, fastens the codified norms of the society, and imposes them on the individual. I believe the major advantage of being away from my native country is to provide emancipation, or a distance, from my previous life and indoctrinated values. This emancipation is helping me to become conscious of the borders and limits that I was setting into my life, in addition to the ones that were being set for me by my social environment. I have realized that this freeing was also a temporary one and ended as soon as I had to attend a western identity, which I have been introduced by my present milieu.
My practice can be grouped under the interpretation of body and its relationship to its environment. I make attempts to emancipate the body from social and cultural norms and try to suggest ways to distance one from the limits imposed on the society by totalitarian establishments. I believe that even temporary emancipations can help us be aware of the limits forced on us by the regimes of society. I appear in unfamiliar places where supposedly “I do not belong” according to the tradition, laws or patriarchal value systems. It is very important for me and for my work to be informed by other people: friends and artists, as well as strangers I meet on the street. My work emerges from temporary encounters and used what is already available in the everyday.
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