[ S T A T E M E N T ]
The confession is a ritual of discourse in which the speaking
subject is also the subject of the statement; it is also a ritual that unfolds
within a power relationship, for one does not confess without the presence
(or virtual presence) of a partner who is not simply the interlocutor but
the authority who requires the confession, prescribes and appreciates it,
and intervenes in order to judge, punish, forgive, console, and reconcile;
a ritual in which the truth is corroborated by the obstacles and resistances
it has had to surmount in order to be formulated; and finally, a ritual in
which the expression alone, independently of its external consequences, produces
intrinsic modifications in the person who articulates it: it exonerates, redeems
and purifies him; it unburdens him of his wrongs, liberates him and promises
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
As an online collective xurban.net locates itself in the world wide web, carrying out site-specific projects at times to reconcile physical/real space of the exhibition with that of the cyberspace. For the exhibition "Lens-Lentil" at Kasa Galeri in Istanbul in year 2000, xurban.net produced an interactive project in the gallery space and carried it to the internet as well (http://www.xurban.net/scope_x/catastroscope) with following concerns: " How can an online collective that claims its existence primarily on the world wide web use the real/physical space of the gallery? At the turn of the millenium, the fusion/confusion of the real and the virtual presents the ultimate problem of artistic expression. As opposed to the 'node' (a web-connected computer) placed in the exhibition space, xurban.net chose what was clearly more obvious: To carry the gallery space itself into the world wide web. xurban.net's primal decision for Istanbul involves the computer modeling of the gallery itself, and to transform it into an interactive set of possibilities to be circulated / observed over the Internet " The first layer of expression for this work was a research into possibilities of the slip of the tongue in the digital realm, the hazards and probabilities of virtual/real spaces and anti-spaces, while turning the gallery inside out and bringing it back in again, that is through the vrml model of the real space (of the gallery,) interactively projected inside, and that still circulates through the web. Fused to this was a content shaped by the catastrophic existence in the periheral world, in this case photographically after the 1999 earthquakes (in Turkey). As a group we believe that there is no escape from this 'scar' of consciousness, once being born into this geography earthquakes are only but one of the devastations, and the situation brings us to a radical critique of power in the third world, and with it, its institutions whose origins are indeed of the western kind.
This is where Michel Foucault comes in, as he lays out the power relations as a series of discourses of the institutionalized modernity. When the theme "The Perfumed Garden" came up, almost without hesitation the first reference appeared as "The History of Sexuality." Not only through Edward Said indicating "knowledge-power" in the construction of the Orientalist discourse, but also Foucault's direct references to Ars Erotica and Scientia Sexualis that belong respectively to East and the West, help us to construct this Pool of Confessions for the Venice project, both online and in the actual space.
Confession, for Foucault, is the tool of Scientia Sexualis for "producing the truth of sex," whereas in the erotic art of the East (including the Arabo-Muslim societies, and in fact, Rome) " truth is drawn from pleasure itself, understood as a practice and accumulated as experience; pleasure is not considered in relation to an absolute law of the permitted and the forbidden, nor by reference to a criterion of utility, but first and foremost in relation to itself ." For the West, as an immense labor just like the accumulation of capital, the labor of confession enabled "men's subjection: their constitution as subjects in both senses of the word."
As an ongoing project, xurban.net's Confessions starts on the internet at the end of March 2001, as a collective pool of imagery and deepest secrets. For this, we have again set up an interactive "space," a set of computer generated fractal coordinates to work in, around or into. The random dispositions of this algorithm prepare the stage for the unconscious to pour out in form of confessions (or pseudo-confessions) and the photographic images tie the globally distracted psyche of the East and the West (New York - Istanbul) for an attempted fusion/confusion of polarities. Not only in the order of taboos and sexuality, we believe that through game and mockery the confessions may bring out the most unspeakable, the most violent desire and the hatred, possibly the hidden fascist in every man and woman of the East and the West. After all, if the "network" had replaced God, to whom else would you confess?