L.inguistic Experiments and architectural interventions have determined the work of the Turkish artist Deniz Gül over the past ten years. In 2011, Gül set up a coffin, a display case, a door, a cupboard and a safe in Istanbul’s Arter gallery and invited the viewer to imagine a conversation. As a symbol of the claustrophobia of Turkish bourgeois life, the installation, 5-person buffet, introduced the then 28-year-old daughter of a furniture seller to the Turkish art world. In a book accompanying this presentation, Gül interwoven Turkish gibberish words, street chatter, excerpts from her notes, sentences she heard from television and purple prose she remembered from newspapers to create a piece of furniture for the furniture. (Five musicians performed 5-person buffet at the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago in 2015 and continues the cycle of translations of furniture to text to music.) Meydan (Square, 2020) Gül emptied the nearly 300 square meter space of Yapı Kredi Culture and Arts, one of the largest contemporary art venues in Istanbul, to make room for a new work: a piece of polyurethane foam, a just engraved into a wall and Line marked with a black felt-tip pen, a metal rod and a handful of other sculptures which, in their almost invisibility, shook the expectation of a material presence of art.
“Scratch and Surface” overtakes another spacious Istanbul event location: SALT Galata, the former imperial Ottoman bank founded in 1863. In the basement of the Gül building‘s performative installation Daire Düz (Just, 2021) examines the process of designing, reading and staging architectural drawings of floor plans. Conceived after the artist’s residence in Sharjah in 2017, where the eternal construction of the city of Güls aroused interest in construction sites, Just examines how floor plans are used differently by civil engineers and craftsmen, for example. Gül‘s blueprints, drawn to scale and hung on the walls unframed like paintings, dictate not only the relationships between the rooms, but also actions that change these rooms. On weekdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., a manual worker hired by SALT mixes cement, lays concrete blocks and builds low walls, while visitors walk along surface markings – cement lines on the floor that represent their own interpretation of Güls Boden’s plans made by a professional interior designer (Gül’s changes are indicated by different colors on the page). Gül’s drawings specify a finished state, but also remind the viewer that boundaries are constantly being negotiated – the instructions are open to interpretation and workers can adjust them if necessary. The work challenges the viewer to think about redesigning a physical space through drawing; its implicit criticism draws attention to all of the invisible work that went into making this building – SALT Galata – and seems to suggest a less static notion of architecture in which spaces are constantly being erased and rebuilt.
A linguistic installation on the upper floor, Klavuz (Piston), 2016–21, attempts the complex task of monitoring “the participation and impact of words in times of economic, ecological and social crises”. Since 2016, Gül has been reading a Turkish spelling guide line by line while scribbling her interpretations of Turkish words with a red marker and adding suffixes or prefixes to associate words with current events and private frustrations. The doodles in SALT’s marble-floored research library are displayed on lighted tables Klavuz (Diver) suggest that playing with language can be a form of diary or a method of writing history. Gül fastened the word on one side cezaevi (Prison) to the word sncan (Astragalus, a plant native to Turkey) to refer to Sincan Prison, a Turkish prison with numerous political prisoners. On another page, she just added a heart shape to the word sinekle (flies) and added a smiley face to the noun sıpa (Foal). Elsewhere her scribble of soykırımı (Genocide) in red ink looks next to the Turkish word for ominous Armenian. These interventions, typically subtle and ironic, lead to unexpected shifts and relationships in their native language.
Supported a more direct approach to language policy # Words (2021), an online database presented on a plasma screen. Refreshment every three minutes, # Words scans 2,753 terms Gül selected for the project (she says she chose “superficial” words, like peer, climate, and vegetablewhich are “horizontal rather than vertical”) and list their recent uses in 75,000 online newspapers and magazines – from the New Yorker to Mysterious universe– and the publication of the results on the website hashwords.net. Reduced to hashtags, these words acquire a mysterious power, transform depending on the context, sharpening themselves into weapons for the culture war, trending one moment and disappearing the next. Amira Akbıyıkoğlu and Farah Aksoy, the show’s curators, shape Gül’s view of view language as “a fiction that is constantly being reconstructed; a geography in which borders are constantly being negotiated. ”With“ Scratch and Surface ”, Güls’ decades of confrontation with borders in the language of her country and at her art venues achieved a resolution that itself remains fluid and changeable.