Brigitte Borchhardt-Birbaumer

Vienna 2004


Canan Dagdelen’s work between concept and ceramics

“You linger in the world
as dream it flees
Your journey, and the place
a fate decrees”[i]

Goethe’s “West-Eastern Divan” of 1815 refers to the unity and duality of the world (corresponding to the symbolic natural form of the ginkgo leaf); allegedly archetypical elements of poetry deriving from the Oriental spirit of a pre-Islamic and pre-Christian era are compared to strings of pearls. The pearls form words, and on a string they form poems. The pearl allegory, however, also stands for tolerant dialogue between cultures, believers and nonbelievers, in 8th century Baghdad.[ii]

The starting point for Canan Dagdelen’s most recent artistic concept is the spherical form of the pearls transformed into a module, with their multifarious possibilities for interpretation. A ceramicist as a concept artist is unusual, and neither is being a member of both an Eastern and a Western culture an everyday occurrence – Dagdelen was born in Istanbul in 1960, has lived in Vienna since 1980 and has dual citizenship. She studied at art and business universities in Vienna. The artist is interested in congruencies of language, form, and number. This requires not only an examination of representations within and outside art, but also of the self-referentiality of traditional signs such as the point as both a sphere and a module, as well as a look back in history, as is typical of the postmodern approach, to the beginnings of urban culture in Mesopotamia.The clay “pegs” set in clay or mortar or the early methods of brick-making can certainly be considered analogous to photographic rasters or digital grid structures. It is almost unbelievable to see it: the technical process of the peg mosaic, which originates in Sumerian era, optically corresponds to contemporary reception of the “dot.coms” with their pixel dissolution of the “photograph after photography”[iii].

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