“ Sunset ”
2012, Hand made Crochet, 128 x 218 cm
The relationships and semantic leaps between the artist’s works exhibited in different forms, such as video, photography and installation all come together and transform the given space into a conceptual house, an imaginary living room, an island composed of the power of imagination. ‘Sunset’(2012), one of the works featured in the exhibition, designed as a hand-made lacework, has been imprinted in a red pictorial. As in an anti-monument or a lyric, which is eternal, dedicated to those moments when our hearts are broken; after the sunset (-in order to translate the difficult expression “Fuck You Sunset” into Turkish) in an indignant poem—reminiscent of the last eight minutes of Sadri Alışık’s film, Ah Müjgan Ah—it makes the heart lament, “How come I loved you for years…”
Servet Koçyigit focuses on domestic labor, both as a form and a subject of curiosity. The anti-romantic phrase “Fuck You Sunset” was carefully crafted by a woman in Istanbul over the course of several months. The language loses its meaning after maybe two-three repetitions, yet the production of this work takes so much time that the phrase is constantly flushed and re- charged with meaning. His staged images of domestic scenarios, in which obsessions are literally translated into situations, exhibit a childish curiosity of the home, the family, the most basic social structure.
“Coins” 1999 -2012
Oriental carpet, chocolate coins wrappers
In his installation, “Coins” (1999), Kocyigit hides chocolate coin wrappers under a carpet—a historic symbol of wealth among eastern civilizations. A feeling of nostalgia for the neighborhood grocer-stationery-toy shop (poignantly evoked by Turkish author, Orhan Pamuk, who compares it to the magic of Aladdin’s Store) and the frustration over the missing contents of the chocolate wrappers , evocative of yet far from our childhood, are reflected in the installation of the carpet with its contrived value and modified richness.
The most striking corner of the lost living room is created through a mocking imagination and by means of a reconstruction of the child-adult perspective.
“Coins” (1999) consists of hundreds of empty coin chocolate wrappings hidden under a handmade carpet, only visible from the sides. The emptied “coins”, symbol of an empty promise, have gathered under the rug like a ball of dust. The dichotomies Koçyigit explores and the issues that emerge from these are dichotomies that exist in life; that we live entwined in, that we sometimes overlook, sometimes get inured to, and sometimes confront callously. Koçyigit detaches these dichotomies from their contexts, abstracts, critiques, exaggerates them and returns them to us.
The white walled space of a commercial art gallery is a far cry from the domestic realm of a housewife. The irony of comparing these two extremes is emphasized, but also united in many of Servet Koçyiğit’s works. Koçyiğit has long been interested in the daily practice and production of women working within the home and his artworks play with the tools, the repetitive cycles, and the potential symbolism of different household chores and objects. For example, ‘‘Das Boot’‘ (2004), is an upturned surfboard that is re-purposed as an alluring yet, impractical ironing board, already scalded for its impertinence. Tucked beneath the most common domestic centerpiece—a carpet—are hundreds of gold coins. Carpets were once a status symbol of the home, but now, due to mass production, their value is often meaningless. Likewise the “gold” it fails to conceal in ‘‘Coins’’ (1999/2012), is nothing but a littering of empty chocolate wrappers.
Koçyiğit’s inspiration—the daily routine of a Turkish housewife—draws together these works to provide a narrative conditioned by cultural convention and tradition. Yet Koçyiğit not only asserts his own perspective on a world far removed from his own, but he also opens up one part of his practice to the voice and labor of the women he references. His series of crocheted works spell out quotes by his subjects. They include “Bazen, buzdolabını gerçekten kapanmış mı diye on kez kontrol ediyorum” (“Sometimes I check thefridge ten times to see if it is really closed”), “Everything you heard about Turkish men is true” and most recently, “ !@#$%^&* you sunset.” The laboriousness and repetition of these phrases of frustration are reflected in the intricate stitching that takes many women months to complete. “Sunset” (2012), in particular, an expression against the romantic cliché, is elaborately garnished with swirls and decorative patterns to accentuate the incongruence of the words and how they are presented.
A different direction and a new development in Koçyiğit’s practice is exemplified by the video and photographs that make up ‘‘Truth’’ (2011). Intrigued by the misleading content of mass media, in which stories and images are exaggerated or embellished to boost audience appeal, Koçyiğit has created a work that pushes this relationship to its limit. There is no ‘star’ in the photographs of ‘‘Truth’’. The cameramen, video crew, and journalists thrive off of the possibility that something of interest is waiting for them around the corner. Their anticipation appears composed, almost painterly, as if they could wait in this formation forever. Similar to the crochet works, in which months of stitching produces just a few words, Koçyiğit also slows down an understood language. In ‘‘Truth’’ he reconstructs a media broadcast, which attempts to capture a single instant in history for a fleeting news flash, and turn it into a memorable scene.‘‘Truth’’ also offers a rolling scene with no narrative, beginning or end.
This interest in the transformation of time is perhaps best summed up in Koçyiğit’s video “Zonkey” (2010) in which a car is replaced by a donkey that ends up charmingly painted to look like a wild zebra. Despite the humor and the enchanting reflections to be found in Koçyiğit’s works, in “Zonkey”, as in the series of works on domesticity, there is an underlying sense of mourning for our appreciation of basic daily experiences—sunsets, slow conversation, real values, and the simple things in life.
Koçyiğit works in a wide variety of media including traditionally produced video and photography as well as sculptural works made from domestic items. Several of these sculptural pieces push the limits of usual composition, such as “Blue Side Up” (2005), which includes a motor and track upon which a broom, made from a wig, sweeps the exhibition space. His series of crocheted text works have become something of a signature style for Koçyiğit. Each of these pieces is commissioned out to a group of women to hand-produce. After spending weeks working together to create a decoratively patterned text, the final work takes seconds to read and is essentially functionless. Hence what each work references in its content is also expressed via the method of fabrication—the ritual, repetition and easy consumption of this form of labor.