2013 FIRAT ARAPOĞLU / A Visual Revolution
  Alan Exhibition Catalog, December 2013


“We must revolutionise our visual reasoning.”
Alexander Rodchenko

“The word 'experimental' is apt, providing it is understood not as descriptive of an act to be later judged in terms of success or failure, but simply as of an act the outcome of which is unknown.”
John Cage

'Home' is a term used to define a space where an individual or a family permanently or semi-permanently lives. This term that often defines residences, apartment blocks and other buildings and lives, has an attribute which is that it can be expanded to cover towns, villages, outskirts, cities and countries; and we can add to these the attribute of it representing the 'territory' of an individual or a family. I will talk about this later on.

The word 'territory' derives from the word 'territorium' which was first used during the 14th century. This word, which alludes to a field surrounding a city, derives from the same root as'terreor', meaning “frightening, scary”. This can be explained by the fact that man in wilderness would draw the borders of his 'territory' using his urine or bodily fluids. We should add that the word 'terror', meaning 'frightening' was first used around the same time and derives from the same root. It's not my intention to bore you with etymological emphasis. My aim is to express my opinions on Seçil Erel's solo exhibition “Territory”, but the reason I started with this introduction is so that I could clearly put forth the history and usages of the terms that occur in the subject I'll be covering.

As evidenced by the visual coherence of her previous exhibitions “Yalnız An”, “Şimdiki Basit Zaman” and “İlk Ev-LEİA”, it seems Seçil Erel takes on the relationships between modern architecture and the urbanites with a sharp mathematical approach on the one hand, and an extremely experimental and intuitive attitude on the other. Although it seems improbable to bring these two things together, it can be claimed that Erel, with the position she occupies, is at a kind of “threshold”. So, let's focus on the artist's latest exhibition in light of the references from the past:

In this exhibition the conceptual reference consists of the notions 'home' and 'moving'. Meaning “the migration of an individual to a different place”, 'moving' contains the multi-layered emotions and web of information during their migration from a place where they are familiar with and have life experiences in, to a new, unknown place which they do not clearly know the positive and negative attributes of. When one decides to leave a place where they completely familiarised with throughout the years and move from the place of residence, belongings are packed and loaded, and then unloaded and laid back out at the new place. This shift can be inferred as an enjoyable experimentalism from one point of view, as a new form of life is gradually developed for the new residence. But in other respects, these forced moves can be thought of as torture every single time. Sleepless nights, waiting for the telephone line to be set up, internet connection, etc. could prove to be a nightmare for some time. – In this sense, you will witness how the artist has moved to the gallery space the houses and workshops she has moved to and from.

Seçil Erel has created “Territory” using a method in which she modularly dissects and shreds the plans of the houses she lived in and the workshops she worked at from 1980 to 2013, and puts them back together in a new, different presentation, with the help of land surveying and architecture. The separation of the plans of the houses into modular pieces in a mathematical certainty and their reassembly through a pictorial approach results in the surfacing of a constructive structure in the final instance. I should remind you, however, of the intuitive formation of colours and layers. At this stage, one should be reminded of an analytical formal analysis and reach a conclusion accordingly.

By coding the house like a machine, the artist adapts it to a visual form and builds this seemingly non-objective design that looks like it's not referring to the real world, on –or through– a matter of life experience, thus indirectly containing the storytelling. While absolute, mathematical and geometrical structures remind us of drawings made with a ruler and a set square, geometrical shapes such as squares and rectangles can reveal the dominance and meaning on nature and life of the machine we call home. If we look closely, the 299x600-centimetre 'territory' that consists of a 55-piece canvas Erel has set up at Galeri Zilberman is interconnected through a carefully structured installation, therefore the relationship between the structures can be construed as an element about pictorialness. The artist generates an aesthetic language and creates an awareness about this. These qualities amply draw Erel to a constructive approach. But besides this, the fact that she focuses on the visual aspects of style and space on the painting plane and that she includes the factor of “time” in a longing for a dynamic purity, takes her to the abstract in one way, and even to a kind of a suprematist serenity.

With this project exhibition in which she oscillates between the borders of mathematics, geometry, land surveying, architecture and painting, Seçil Erel shares the output of an interdisciplinary research with her audience. In the face of hyperreal works that lean excessively on an illustrative graphic language and produce a boring banality, the fact that Erel generates artistic information whilst conserving the aesthetic language of art, as opposed to the ironic language that is based simply on reflecting, defines a presentation the lack of which had been felt for a long time. For an audience that hasn't witnessed a project exhibition that was based on“research” and “problem” for some time, this is quite a competent and effective presentation.