On Canan Dagdelen’s Works
The historic evolution and science of written language has always been a subject of interest for Canan Dagdelen and can be traced back to her early clay tablets and bowls. Like a leitmotif, enlarged fragments of her own handwriting and inscriptions from ancient cultures and languages run through her oeuvre, underscoring the significance of the written word as a link between the past and the present. While Dagdelen’s artistic research in 1996 still focused on the theme of writing as an artwork, the focus has since shifted to writing within the artwork, with the orthographic elements receding into the background.
In 1996 the artist exhibited a series of large porcelain bowls at Gallery Atrium ed Arte in Vienna. Even though the visual elements were inspired by Latin script, these works still conveyed the influence of an Oriental cultural history. In her clay tablets Dagdelen inscribes segments of inscription into segments of brick walls merging into a unity the parallel that is built up by the tension between her own progressing life and the inscribed word. Into another work that represents fabric of a brick wall, Dagdelen again incorporates her own handwriting, thereby recurring to the art-historical significance of the individual artist’s stylistic and compositional signature, which has been discussed and called a dispensable element since Marcel Duchamp’s ready-mades. A third feature in Dagdelen’s oeuvre are allusions to and emphasis on certain words. From 1996 until 1999 the word “white” was frequently added to the titles of her works. What is alluded to in “WRITE-white-OUT” is the artist’s play with formulations, holding on to thoughts and inscribing them in our memory. “SELF-white-EVIDENT”, on the other hand, addresses the emphasis on the self in a specific language of art. The words “TAKE PART” and “TAKE PLACE” that occur repeatedly in Dagdelen’s works call for a desire to participate in the other person’s thoughts as well as the desire to take part in the events. The words “TAKE PLACE” also allude to the search for and belonging to a place where thoughts and ideas can crystallize and leave an impression.