özdemir altan

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(Panel Works with Multiperson)

24th October, 1988 till 12th February, 1992

Elements that are different inter alia in terms of concept, origin, and logic come together to make up art. This is also applicable to art consisting of one single element, since this type of art also enters into a logical clash with us. This century suggests to us or compells us to render the relationship between these materials even more irreconcilable and alien, and also to place them more distantly from one another.

The structure that realizes the multidimensional and multisemantic quality of the present-day art is the surprising chemical effect of the coexistence of these foreign genes, which do not need a certain quality on their own.

The introduction of the collage into art instantly increases the effect of the principle of traditional contrasts to the highest degree. Materials that have nothing to do with it are introduced into the painted picture...

Now, please read the boldly typed sentences again.

In order to prove that these foreign elements can happily co-exist by means of the most radical application, I first met the apprentice-artists on 24th October, 1988. In front of the surface they had prepared as I had demanded in early summer, I asked them, "Please prepare independently from each other the pieces of a multidimensional work that I am going to realize on a thirty-two square meter area."

The elements entering this work consisted of some pieces that I had not known and seen; they were also being placed in the whole pattern of the work according to the suggestions of the people working with me that day. Was I perhaps putting this chaos into a certain order when making the general decision in the end? In the days that followed, this question kept bothering my mind as an annoying obstacle that had not yet been overcome.

On 2nd November, 1990, I was asked to contribute in a work during an event called the Grand Exhibition. With the help of my assistants, I drew up my work titled "Dog-Walking Area Integration Project" on three large panels and also separately on a cardboard. From these templates, which represented the plot divisions of the campus, plywood pieces were prepared. Now, we had in hand abstract pieces which represented the whole of the campus area. I distributed these pieces running up to thirty, again on an arbitrary basis, without making any preferences, among the artists saying, "Make any picture you wish on this piece" . I reserved some of the pieces for myself, on which I painted with the intensity I chose by using abstract combinings and abstract forms.

And this was the first mistake I made in my work.

I think you must have realized that, at this point, I was actually betraying my principle as I was developing an extremist method for bringing together sharply different concepts of art, thus going beyond the technique of , united collage and assemblage gathered together, and forcing completely alien elements to live side by side, giving me no chance of any composition at all. How arbitrary ever their positions might be, the fact that the pieces I painted myself would perform a beautifying function in the work and that, during the application, I would interfere by unifying touches and accentuations, was actually hindering the full realisation of my radical aim.

In June 1991, I again undertook the "Dog-Walking Area Integration Project" without trying for a new composition, for fear that it might be "interesting and impressive". I had been asked to realize a work for an art museum that was going to be newly established. This was a good opportunity for me to produce a radical work...

The same picture was prepared on an area of thirty square meters which was being divided and cut into about sixty pieces. These pieces were arbitrarily distributed to thirtytwo artists of all ages. As they were numbered at the back, only the plywood pieces themselves "knew" how they would be placed; that is whether horizontally, sideways or upside down. And I, at this time, did not take any of the pieces to paint myself. As the background, I made an intense, rough, boorish painting which was generally dominated by black and white, with the theme of the family-tree. So that it would not have a harmonious relationship with the unknowns which were going to be mounted on it... Then the pieces received from the artists began to be attached on this background.

Naturally, most of them did not fit in the direction the artists had meant them to be and turned out to be either sideways or upside down. Starting from the moment they were assembled side by side, the get-together of these people of different temperaments coming from different worlds and the uneasiness caused by the unexpected and surprising coincidences, briefly disappointed an artist like me, who had been trying "to unify" for fiftyfive years; however, the idea "it should be like this because it should not be like this" became the final decisive factor.

The fact, that my chief assistant Kadir Reisli was getting ready for his wedding and he therefore was a bit distracted, led to some mistakes. When some of the pieces did not fit into their places, we gave up the idea of putting them into the picture. I think, this became a new factor even intensifying the stress created by the "meeting" which from beginnnig to the end was carried out without any communication, being totally irrational and completely coincidental...

My recent work was completed in the Kazim Taşkent Art Gallery on February 12, 1992. In this piece of work again, artists from two children, aged seven and eleven, to professional adults of fifty, took part. The theme is the same: Dog-Walking Area Integration Project.

Özdemir Altan

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