Sculptures that describe spaces…

Peter Assmann

Mantua, June 2019

Sculptures that describe spaces that are opened up in different ways

“Physical objects are not in space, but these objects are spatially extended.”
(Albert Einstein)

“Spatially extended” objects by Canan Dagdelen – to apply the quotation by Albert Einstein to the field of culture – tell us about extraneous space, about a physical reality that is culturally diverse; these objects speak of far away countries, albeit not too distant, which are nevertheless capable of moving ever closer to us. These are places that we can imagine, almost touch, that we can encounter in a tactile way, since it is the aesthetic experience that provides us with a wider and increasingly more accessible sensorial and perceptual relationship.

Therefore, not only has space been embedded into the concept of the object in mathematical terms, but also into the artistic knowledge of intercultural discourse. This gives rise to objects that are liable to embrace several realities, that belong to, at least, two different worlds: they encompass both the East and West, embrace architecture and sculpture, include both the outside and inside, incorporate curved and straight lines, both convex and concave shapes.

Canan Dagdelen’s works of art are the protagonists of this strongly intercultural and “natural” scene, which, however, cannot be entirely defined; in other words, these works of art are not, at first glance, interpreted as models, but they could easily serve as such. They could be part of prototypes for architectural constructions designed to host a group of human beings, a community or entity that are about to spatially create, determine or plan a “whole”.

These works may also be considered as interventions by the artist that have been carried out within an already existing setting, such as an elevation, a plan or a photograph. However, ultimately, they always establish themselves, as the concept of a gift given to an individual, from within the context of an encounter, as well as the tendency to bring about a sense of what appears to be “strange”, understood as different, exotic or foreign. As a result, these works of art, these objects are never mere sculptures.
In her art installation in the Hall of Mirrors of the Ducal Palace in Mantua, for instance, the artist chooses to display a monumental, but also fragile, noble message. Naturally, the words are not conveyed and written in Latin, rather they greet the visitor and can be understood only by considering and analyzing the different cultural environment. Furthermore, the standpoint of the observer must be correct, due to the fact that the letters of the alphabet have been elegantly drawn with a gentle incline so that their literary meaning and significance can only be understood from a specific location. The text can only be read from a single point of view and, of course, the observer must be acquainted with the language to grasp the concept of the message.

Canan Dagdelen’s artistic world often resorts to the use of ceramic, which, like her works of art, is a material that is both strong and fragile at the same time. The observer will immediately understand that the structure exhibited is in danger, and that its creator is well aware of the fact that he shifts from one contrast to the other.

Canan Dagdelen lives and works in Turkey and Austria. He constantly tries to build bridges between these cultural environments through her use of majolica or porcelain in order to refer back to a common cultural source, as well as by using geometric shapes that have now become part of the common language of
socalled “international modernity”. However, the intention of the artist is to communicate her aspiration towards the desires of a community, understood as shared social needs. Her entire oeuvre speaks of extended spaces as places and areas that are functional to good living, to the welfare of everyone.

Her artistic approach clearly relates to the idea of movement, the act of leaving or entering a strange environment; it is linked to the aim of comparing opposing theories, but not so as to incite heated debate or a stark contrast of opinions. Quite the contrary, through immersion in the space of the installation itself, the artist’s intention is to re-establish the strange and provocative atmosphere that is dictated by a smooth movement, the lightness of a gliding step, a questioning and furtive glance. There is a need to respond to the urgent questions being asked and the current challenges being faced by our spatially extended bodies. Our bodies are “extended” as we have become strangers in a world that is increasingly lacking in the certainty of identity, of distinct characteristics, as well as people who have been thrown into an era of death, loneliness and creeping fear.

We are faced with a feeling of deprivation, one which is not only cultural, but also physical, spatial, descriptive and literary. For this reason, the identity of our body has become a question linked to a moment of perception, a whole range of sensory and visual relations that can take shape in a flash and come into focus in the blink of an eye, which, however, has the potential to last for a long time…an unusually long time.

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