Nullify the Void*
by xurban_collective, May 2005
1. Remains of cataclysmic events are archeological objects that can be meaningfully studied through artistic methods. [We are referring to artistic method as the phenomenological approaches of articulating, approaching, observing, studying, documenting the social phenomenon vis-ˆ-vis its spatial context. Further critical actions should be taken with respect to the findings. Any techniques and tools should be relevant to the method.]
2. Anatolian territory is covered by thousands of species of plants, a good part being endemic. The sedimented soil, the flora-covers the mythic landscape of civilizations. This landscape acts as a protective layer for the archeological ruins, i.e. the top layer of the historical stratification acts as a blanket; quietly warming, taking care of, and filling the voids by time. It presents a variety of flowers as decoration.
3. Structures can be understood through their voids. Void, in our case, is the spatial realm, which is in between the archeological formation and the contextual framework that the site rests on. (For instance, structural cracks in the buildings or an arheological trench) The non-content created can be understood through remains of everyday life at the time of the catastrophe.
4. Science fails to show the complexity of the social phenomena within its authoritarian discourses. Categorical reductions eliminate the understanding of social voids. The social ought to be understood through its void. The contextual environment of the objects defines the possibility of the void. Nothing is transcendent about it.
5. First, the void can be understood as a meaningless ground of circulation. Second, physical forms are necessary. However, the point of departure is not to be a monumental structure but the voids themselves, i.e., instead of reading the registered aspect (read monumental), the approach attempts to grasp the immersed as it is in utterances (read filling the void).
6. If Middle East (to include the Anatolian Plateau) as the sedimentation of a tormented history is still relevant, it is because it antedates the 'Classical-as-the-origin'. Not only does archaeology as we understand dispense with the task of restoring the original, but also we know that the blind poet of the Iliad dreamed of his ur-history, the time when all that was solid melt into the soil. We believe that the prehistoric (i.e. Neolithic) wisdom still punctuates the conflicting frames of acceptance of the world and fate, as we observe through the modern catastrophe: ruins, cruelties, torture and unspeakable atrocities that infest the region. The anti-monumental, anti-hierarchical organization of the pre-classical site still humbles the spirit of the people, as it leaves no trace of itself in disappearing, as it melts into the soil that it was made of, like all mortals, just but a sign, a tumulus, a grave covered with flowers.
Some Notes on 'Social Sculpture'
* Social change and individual endeavors are fused into confusion. Beuys defines politics as unfulfilled concepts of individual freedom, liberty, and creativity. However, politics should be understood as the act of defining the limitations: as in law, for instance, or let's say: how much suffering we can take. For us, the archaeological mound is the post mortem sozial plastik itself, where the dead, the material culture, and the soil blend into the mound in the Messianic time of its own.
* Art is not the testing ground for politics. It is the actualization ground of a significant political engagement. Experimental methods for verbal/visual/textual engagement are used in the sphere of "social re-forming". Xurban's works intend to reflect upon contemporary social condition. We care about both territorial and historical transformations.
* Memorial is the justification of hierarchical structures, i.e., the artificial stratum, positioned on top, covering, therefore eliminating all other possibilities. Re-appropriation of memorial structures is unfeasible. Architects, real estate developers, sponsors, state officials should be eliminated from the process. The Museum hauls and displays the artifact, whereas we are interested in the transfer of the void, that which is left behind. Our concepts are usually developed within a collective process of intellectual dialogue alongside long journeys to the site.
* Public engagement (like public education) is an unfulfilled, fictive construction. We, as artists, do not necessarily produce for and with the "public", but we think that independent art works themselves freely engage with other bodies. The only condition for the uninterrupted democratic condition, for us, to free all the bodies, human, animals, plantation and the art works, from the institutional (read capitalist state and other variations).Participation and inter-activity are problematic fields that need to be considered and re-considered carefully.