My Heart is not made from stone
“My Heart is not made from stone“ is the title of the series that I have been working on and producing during my artist residency Joburg Now (June –July 2016) in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Johannesburg is a gold mining city. It attracted millions, and continues to attract immigrants from all across the world to this day. Therefore, it is a truly diverse place with its mixture of cultures and races, and yet still has its distinctive character with at times rather sharp cultural, ethnic, and racial borders and clashes. My research is based on the understanding of how we define a country, who claims the land, how and when we draw the borders revolving around the feelings of belonging.
I have been working with maps for already several years, creating imaginary maps. Through these imaginary maps, I create statements on politics, the current affairs, and geography. The intertwined themes of statelessness, citizenship, and migration are indeed key subjects for me.
As a migrant artist (Turkish born and having moved to the Netherlands), the subjects of migration and art go hand in hand for me. Both migration and artistic praxis are far from a uniform or evenly shared experience. Mobility or migration, conditions that provide a niche from which to address issues of identity as well as belonging, challenge inherited notions of home, territory, and community in a world that is constantly shifting.
Johannesburg was fascinating in terms of its intensity, diversity, and richness that are reflected in my works.
For my Johannesburg project, I would like to explain a few aspects:
LANDSCAPES: I scouted for 1,5 months to find the suitable locations in and around Johannesburg. Through the selected landscapes I tried to define the geography of the city: A mining site, a burnt site, a forest, rubble, a garbage dumpsite…
MAPS: As a continuation of my fascination with maps, at the beginning of the project, I worked with local artists in order to let them depict gems and precious stones on school maps that I had acquired in the Netherlands and brought to South Africa with me. The maps show the results of mining, giving me the chance to define the geographies through mining. In addition, we collected different types and colors of color of earth from mining sites. Mining is the perfect metaphor, since in many parts of the world mines are being exploited. People have been pushed away from their lands or forced to labor in the mining sector. In a contradictory manner, it also created cities like Johannesburg.
WALKING STICKS: I made and painted walking sticks for every person/actor/participant in my project. The geometrical shapes and colors on them come from graphics of the maps. They are actually “border lines”. So every man carries his (inner) border with(in) him.
NUMBERS: There are numbers written on each person representing the coordinates (longitude and latitude). Numbers show where each man belongs to… somewhere in this world.
TREE: The tree had a significant importance for this project, as for me, tree is the symbol of belonging somewhere, of being rooted, and grounded. It is a micro cosmos. It is a place where we meet, and come together.