Cinar Eslek: Therefore


Spaces do not exist just physically; they are also formed in our minds. Art offers people the most tangible examples of realistically or fictionally composed spaces altogether with all their complexity. Places composed by the artists take us to newer horizons while at the same time causing us to perceive them through different dimensions. And that's where Cinar Eslek's artistic, space-oriented production leads us to reflect on the "non-places." Mac Auge says, "If a place can be defined as relational, historical and concerned with identity will be non-place. Auge's example of non-places is airports, where the passengers do not really reveal their identities or their lives; spaces of momentary encounters and temporariness... Cinar Eslek's latest photos bring to mind Auge's non-places. Eslek's photos where we see a recently vacated bed resemble spaces of temporariness, just like Auge's metaphor about airports, where identities and lives don't really reveal themselves. You could possibly sense the human being -maybe a woman- remaining in the background Eslek's photos; while evoking the privacy and the traces of the body, the photos avoid giving any hints as to "who" the identity is.

    Cinar Eslek's latest photos remind us of the views of Foucault, Simmel and Bakhtin, who spoke about space. Eslek's photos materialize Foucault's vision that space is treated as the dead, the fixed, the undialectical, while time is richness, fecundity, life, dialectic. Focusing on five properties of space, Simmel describes the first one as the exclusivity or the uniqueness of the space, and expresses that although a single general space could be in question; each and every single constituent space has its own exclusivity comprising specific social formations. So looking at a recently vacated bed as a general space in Eslek's photos, we could trace in our minds the femininity, the "fragile codes" of a woman when we consider the constituent social formations.

    Simmel interprets the space concept through metaphors such as "door" and "bridge." Both the door and the bridge connect two separate spaces. But that is not only a connection, it is also constructing both the inside and the outside. The door is significant in forming the connection between an individual's space and everything else outside. Such a significance as it goes beyond a separation between the inside and the outside. The door evokes a more powerful sense of isolation as it can be opened and closed on the wall. The wall has no speech, but the door speaks. The door has the power to both create and destroy feelings of boundaries and freedom. In Eslek's photos, we see the "bed-bed sheet" acting as Simmel's door and bridge. While constructing the inside (where it is located) with all its privacy and the outside, the bed has the power to form the connection between. Within that context, the bed could be considered both a door and a bridge from a Simmelist perspective. Having references to women and femininity, the bed both creates a feeling of boundaries and freedom, and it is able to destroy them to the extent that the social codes in the background allow. As is known, traces of pressure and control could be found in the space and spacial concepts of Foucault, who makes use of many space-related metaphors. For "the body is materialized in space," and Eslek's "beds," both creating and destroying feelings of boundaries and freedom, intersect Foucault's control mechanisms.

    Bakhtin's concept of "chronotope" comes to mind when speaking of time-space in literature. Bakhtin says that the chronotope is the constitutive category of literature in a stylistic context. Formed from the Greek words chronos (time) and topos (space), the term chronotope expresses a moment of time turning visible in space. The chronotope is first of all a representation; it's the specific meaning created by the co-existence of "that moment" and "that space" expressed in the next. In that co-existence' time becomes tangible and visible; the chronotope concretizes, materializes and vitalizes the incidents in the story. Thus Bakhtin not only integrates space into the literary reviews, which had been based merely on temporal relations, but also reminds that time and space should be treated as body. Bakhtin stresses that being both a starting point for new beginnings and the point where incidents come to an end, time, virtually commingling with space, enables a chain of narrations that space flows into. From that perspective, Cinar Eslek's photos should be considered as a "chronotope." Going beyond forming a background, the bed in Eslek's photo series appears as a determining time-space category which constitutes the story and shapes the relations therein. Upon first sight' one may think that Eslek photographs beds; however the bed, as a composition and an artistic image, is more than a direct representation of an actual space; it's a skein of encounters and relations and an intersection where the skein is tied and untied again. Bringing together "that moment" and "that space" in her photos, Eslek forms a chronotope narration, and also offers a cryptic narration on femininity through the bed metaphor.

Burcu Pelvanoğlu
Installation Views