Hasan Bülent Kahraman

Istanbul 2007



Previous to this, the works produced by artist Canan Dağdelen were porcelains that she fashioned with a tremendous sense of perfectionism. Taking as her point of departure the “lustrous” world that porcelain created for her in those works and not discounting the intrinsic language possibilities arising from that material but rather reversing and making use of them, she did something very important: the “textuality” which grew out of the body of a work and which was initiated along with its emergence as an object became something that she integrated with the things that she wrote on its surface. When the vehicle and phenomenon called “writing” (on which there is still no clear or concrete agreement as to what it is) was combined with porcelain, which is possessed of a rich structure that now and again reveals attributes that are “mystical” but also “mythical” as well, it created a layer of meaning that was utterly esoteric. Uniting the mystery of porcelain with the mystery of writing, Dağdelen increasingly required her viewers to halt at a junction between reading on the one hand and illegibility/indecipherability on the other. Both the clarity of a readable text and the obscurity of a text which is unreadable on account of its indirection but which is nevertheless still intelligible due to its symbolicity reminded us of the concept of ut pictura poesis (“as is painting so is poetry”). Moreover this secret and secretive relationship confronted us with questions as to the precedence of that which is visual and the act of reading. What was “textuality”? Could one call it a problem of context? Or else did language, meaning, and reading consist, as Wittgenstein stressed, of words that we give life to in our minds?

Dağdelen’s works during this period represent an effort to force the boundaries of porcelain at the object/ive level and to gain new ontological dimensions for the medium while also constituting a serious “pluralization” by posing the problematics of meaning. This pluralization was not limited to the axes of calligraphy vs text or visuality vs language. For example with the word “white” written on white porcelain and with its disappearance within the white ground on which it was written, she created thresholds for brand-new departures. The “vagueness” created through the trinity of text, visuality, and language was not limited to this. Somewhere between the certainty and ambiguity of a white image executed on white porcelain, a similar question was also posed by the sense of vagueness that the same white porcelain provoked within the whiteness of the space in which it was located. With the broader perspective that we have now, we can more easily say that this was an investigation as to meaning and–naturally–as to the level of reality as well.

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