Questioning Purification Through Art

Interview with the curator and artists of a group exhibition

Purification is the name of the new group show of 4 artists in PG Art Gallery. The exhibition questions "the function of art" in reference to "mimesis". We talked to the curator, Öznur Güzel Karasu about the reason to choose "purification" as an exhibition concept, what they examine through group exhibitions and the idea of collecting user reviews into a book instead of a catalogue. Each artist answered one question about the concept through their works.

Öznur Güzel Karasu, the curator - As we all know, the function of art is an issue that has generated extensive debate. I actually wanted to leave aside the debates developed from baseless arguments in the Turkish art world and chose to question the interaction  between the audience and artworks produced with new mediums and I created the show with this in mind. For me the real questions are: “What kinds of effects do artworks that are focused on conceptions have on the audience?”, “How do visitors communicate with an art object?”

Especially in recent years, we try to read the exhibition text whenever we visit a show in order to understand the artworks. This became a very natural thing to understand the present artistic productions. I gather the works that may require clues in order to understand but I don’t give any clues and I ask the audience to write down their thoughts about whichever one they like.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t intend just to focus on the feelings of the visitors in this exhibition, or I don’t attempt to create a democratic situation in which “everybody says what they think.” My ultimate aim is to enable the audience to engage actively with the artworks that attempt not to directly express their message, but to include the meaning in another mental dimension, and to invite the visitors to think and question.  

With the four artists participating in the exhibition, we will be focusing on the purification function of art and questioning what kind of a transformation artistic productions undergo in the age of simulation and what kinds of effects this has on the audience. We will be seeing the results altogether.
During the exhibition, I will asking viewers to describe, title or talk about the artworks they are encountering with. Later on, I will be trying to generate a text from these writings. But the results will be determined by the process. Perhaps we will publish the writings as they are; I don’t want to have a set framework right now. However, one thing is clear: the ideas of the visitors will be a part of the exhibition.

Do you believe in art as a changing instrument, personally or communally? 
Sena Başöz - Yes, I believe in art as a changing instrument both personally and communally. But this change is not linear and it is not the focal point of my practice. It happens naturally as I make more work, since I am responding to life.
I have to make it clear that I do not see it as a necessity on a personal level. There are people that just stick with a certain instrumentality of art whose work I admire. Abstract works detached from the physical world are like that, pure minimalism.
Communal change is inevitable. But, again, it is not a linear change and "the community" is fragmented. Art is not evolving for the better or for the worse.

Many religions and tribes practice purification as a necessary ritual. Is there any connection when art when is said to be serving as a form of purification? Whatcan art offer for the purification of mankind, or should it emphasize the impurity of mankind?  
Kerem Ozan Bayraktar The impurity of mankind is not a subject that I can comment on. I don't think art is related to any religious ritual. It is not about ethics, either. It does the opposite, if we have to compare.
Art always tries to change things and how wee see them. We also know that art is usually defined as unethical or anti-religious by many people, even though it has nothing to do with these kinds of topics.
I think it is much better to use the concept of mimesis when approaching this show. In this sense, when we think of mimesis through simulation, as the curator did, I can say that, rather than purification itself, today we may be fooled into thinking we are undergoing purification using different kind of representations, as if we are playing a game in which we already know who is going to win in the end. I feel much more like that when I think about contemporary media.

How is an artist able to purify one's inner world through an artwork?
Hacer KıroğluI can say that it has a purifying effect on me since I experience a very intense process while producing my works, especially during the performative pieces.  
In this regard, art’s purifying effect seems more possible for the artist. But, in general, accepting that an artwork may present a different way of perception and awareness to the audience, I believe it is a little bit exaggerated to expect that the artwork would purify the inner world of a viewer.

Can art be interpreted as an area of questioning? Why would purification be necessary for humankind?
Candaş ŞişmanOf course art can bee seen as an area of questioning. This is, in fact, something related to the artist’s point of view. I think it is important how he or she questions on what and how his or her productions are grounded.
I think purification is necessary in order to understand the essence of situations and then conceive the whole. Actually, essence and whole are parts of a cycle.

September 5, 2012