Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Fly Me to the Moon

So traveling alone is pretty exciting, especially when normally you do it with small children. I get a tremendous kick out of figuring out a new place, moving through airports and train stations, and arriving into strange situations. But when something goes wrong when traveling, like things often do, you realize how alone you really are. You can’t split up to find the answer to your problem. You can’t leave the luggage with someone else to explore options. Of course, your phones don’t work. And if no one is waiting for you at home, no one will miss you if you don’t show up. That’s maybe not so exciting, but sort of depressing and a bit scary.

Monday, July 30, 2007

How to Price Artwork

Very difficult. Unless your work is selling consistently you have no idea what the market will bear concerning your work. And very few artists sell consistently.
At student exhibitions in Turkey I saw undergrad students directed to price their work very high. There is no chance to sell such work. But perhaps the university’s reputation is what is at stake, rather than realistic selling points.
Artwork has no intrinsic value, all value is created. This is what the gallery or agent is supposed to do. In Turkey the gallery takes 20-35%. In the U.S. galleries take 50-60%. Of course the artist pays for all framing and shipping.
I sold dozens of paintings in Turkey. Will I ever sell here? I’m waiting to hear about my large nudes in NYC. Maybe I can price them very high, but I could sell those same works for a few hundred dollars. Will buyers value them more with the fancy price? It’s an experiment.
Commerce is hell.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

I feel cut off.

There are things I would like to write about but cannot for a multitude of reasons. Much of my life must remain secret for now. When I was traveling last week and couldn’t post a friend wrote me that he missed Kloe’s funny little stories. But other factions would like me silent and gone. It’s that ancient battle of Art vs. Life, baby.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

On Being Kurdish

I know several Kurds in Turkey. One was my model 11 years ago; she’s a high school art teacher now. Another is a student who is trying to do masters work in Paris; I helped him with his resume and letters of reference. His work in my class, political for Turkey, was portraits of Kurdish villagers. I pushed him for more and he produced a very strong installation, raw cow tongues impaled on large nails hanging from the ceiling. The viewer was forced to walk under this dangerous looking mobile. The metaphor was that Kurds were forbidden to speak their own language (this is not the cast now).
I just found out by accident that another friend is half Kurdish; this person keeps this fact hidden out of fear of prejudice and gossip. My friend’s family did not teach the children the Kurdish language. I feel sad about this, because part of my friend’s life and identity is missing.
(image above is from a Documenta video by Halil Altindere, Dengbejs, “you will marry in pain and as a widow…”)

One of the things I love about SoCal is the diversity here. Today at Costco, the great suburban equalizer, I watched a parade of Latinos, Asians (mostly Filipino), whites, African-Americans, Pacific-Islanders (mostly Hawaiian), and even some Arabs parade by with huge bags of chips, multiple bottles of ketchup, and flats of coke. I also saw several handicapped people shopping with their families. Needless to say, almost every adult was overweight...

National Election

Last Sunday's election in Turkey was surprising. (Although pre-election polls exist, they were all over the place.) My friends are trying to put on a good face, but they are pretty devastated. The AKP (the conservative religious party), which has had power for the last four years, gained more power, over 50% of the parliament now. The extreme nationalist party also picked up seats, something a bit scary. My Anatolian City, for example, broke down this way: 3 parliament members from the AK party, 2 for the liberal democrats, and 1 from the nationalists.
Some things my friends are happy about:
• 85% of all eligible voters participated, in the middle of vacation month (which means Turks had to return from the seaside just to vote as there are no mail-in ballots).
• The elections were deemed fair and there was no violence.
• The Western press is happy because re-electing the party currently in power, which is amenable to both European and American requests, means stability for Turkey.
• The ineffective leader of the liberal democrats will hopefully be sacked.
Some things my friends are worried about:
• The unknown-but-feared agenda of the AK party will be harder to resist.
• The country will be further divided

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Chasing the Sun to the West

Here are some of the text messages my friends sent me in my last few days in Turkey:
• Have a nice flyt. I will miss you! We will see soon! Kiss G
• Thanks again for the lovely Thai dinner. We'll keep in touch! Have a safe trip! M
• I wish u good luck and thank u. I hope things get better in yr life. Have a nice fly. Z
• Thanks for all u did for us, school, country, family F
• Now I'm thinking you I will miss you. Thanks 4 everything. Yr helpful yr friendship. Please come again. I love you. Everytime be happy... H
• Have a good trip! I will miss you so much, keep in touch! hugs of love S
• I love you Kloe. We will meet again. I will write you. Kiss S
I need to think of these things, as my life is very hard at the moment. It is my little boy’s birthday today, and I remember so well the hour six years ago he was pulled from me and, unwrapping him, bloody, we put him on my chest and he was like a petal from the softest flower.
I need to remember these good things.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Hello, SoCal

Hi Guys, I am alive, but barely. Just kidding. Only very tired. My boys were very happy to see me and me them. But I’m in a total time-warp-culture-shock. The most overwhelming thing is how much broken down, junky, useless stuff is in my house. It’s suffocating.
Want to write about the Turkish election, missing my friends, what I’m eating (basically bacon and Californian wine)… but too woozy. Will try tomorrow.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Good-Bye Turkey

I sat in my beautiful office for the last time yesterday and drank red wine and ate cheese crackers. I rolled up my big nudes to take to NYC and listened to KRCW like I always do (online radio from LA). It was hard to leave. Then when I tried to exit the building I literally couldn’t because they had locked me in.
Went to the hotel lobby to write email and chat with a friend. It is very hot and sweaty here now. Got up at 5:30 this morning to watch the sunrise and pack: six bags, sigh.
I fly out tomorrow morning, to Istanbul (my friend F is accompanying me this far to help with the luggage, that's Turkish hospitality), then a day in NYC, then home to SoCal. So will probably be out of touch for a few days. Take care of yourselves. Kendine bak.
Love and kisses,

Odds and Ends

One of my artist friends and his students have been working for days in the hot sun on some cows, altering each of the basic sculptures. The one I saw is fantastic: an Artemis cow, with multiple udders. These cows will be displayed in Istanbul by Sutas, the Turkish milk company and sponsor of the project.
Concurrently, dozens of badly-painted, kitschy cows have appeared on the streets of Our Anatolian City. We didn’t understand where these cows were coming from. It turns out these are counterfeit cows, produced by the mayor’s office. He’s normally a great guy who has done wonders for Our City. But he doesn’t understand public art (what politician does?) And these are copyrighted cows, with strict guidelines for production and display.
So finally a copyright issue hits home through these kitschy, counterfeit, copyrighted vacas. It’s quite funny.
Kloe Can Occasionally Turn from Art and Talk Politics
The national election for parliament is tomorrow. It’s a very important election, and Turks take it seriously, returning in some cases to their hometowns to vote. The conservative religious party, the AKP, has held the majority in parliament and has presided over economic advances, but doesn’t have enough power to elect the president. If it gets more power it can. My liberal university friends hope that the left, or the party of Ataturk (who divided religion and state), will gain votes to provide balance and prevent further fragmentation of Turkey. Plus, my friends don’t trust the AKP for one moment.
Email Quote from my Grandmother
Welcome Other (blue eyes)
Your blog says it's time.
I've said it was TIME a while ago.
We have quite a big mix here, and I hope you can fit.
Things running by reality, necessity. Logic that squeezes out some flipperty-gippet and unfortunately substitutes age for youth.
Think it is called LIFE.
Whatever, Life in California is here, ready or not.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I have only three days left in this country I love. Everyone asks me why I’m leaving and when I will come back. I say “Inshallah,” God willing. But in truth I don’t know when I’ll be back.
Yesterday was a religious holiday. Someone told me it was three months before the start of Ramadan. Another told me it is the conception of Mohammed. The streets were deserted, except for a herd of painted sculptural cows that has invaded My Anatolian City. I packed, I painted well, I cleaned out my office, I shade-bathed in my new bikini at a ladies-and-kids-only pool party. I delivered a wedding present, a painting, to my newly married girlfriend and her man (as their first guest, they proudly showed me their apartment, each room with a different color scheme, and served tea).
My internet connection at home is finished and I feel a bit cut off. I had to return my cute new clothes (that’s why I’m playing Lady Godiva in photo above…) And I’m eating the rest of my chocolate stash. In short, I am saying good-bye.


I write this blog for a few friends. I really don’t care to know how many people are reading it, in fact, it would probably freak me out if I knew. While I have an exhibitionist streak, I am at heart a very shy girl.
But I have to tell you I need to get out of here. I am so tired of being the Other. I don’t want to be stared at if I wear a skirt above my knees, or if my eyes are blue, or if I travel alone without a man in front of me or child in tow. I know most Turks don’t mean anything by it, and Americans can and will be just as judgmental of me and my choices. But I am worn down. Really.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I Like Heights

I have a close friend who is married to a psychiatrist in training, and now she has to do her 400 days service to country, as Turkish socialized medicine demands. They were hoping for a post nearby, because my friend can’t leave his job. But no such luck, she is being sent to a small town outside of Mardin, on the Syrian and Iraqi border. So the couple, newly married, will be separated for 14 months, she in a very isolated and possibly dangerous place.
My poor friend tries to see things on the bright side (anyway he’s not the one who has to go to the East). It is a gift not everyone has, to not look down, to embrace change. Luckily, I like change and risk, or I’d be terrified right now. My life will start anew, just as my friends’ will.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Still Amazed, Bread and Cheese

When does a foreign experience cease to feel foreign? After living here three times in the past decade, and after a year now, I still don’t feel complacent about everyday life in Turkey. For example, almost every night I hear celebratory gunshots in my neighborhood, as it’s wedding and circumcision season.
Here’s another story: Last Sunday evening I went to the gym and then shopping at Carrefour. I took a taxi there, and it cost about 8 YTL, or $6. So I took a scheduled dolmus back home. I got the last seat on my bus, but as there were still 15 minutes til it left, people kept getting on. Two women sat on a hump next to the driver. Others stood in the aisle. Then a guard came and told everyone who didn’t have a seat to get off. One woman argued for about five minutes with him. Then he announced that children could sit on the hump (go figure, let the kids die first). So a few switched around, but standing passengers had to get off. I know that these are new rules for dolmuses, but it surprises me that in this patriarchic society a woman would argue with a man in a uniform.
Anyway, made it home with my salty braided cheese and olives. After a week in Germany I sort of missed them…
Also missed Turkish bread, which I think is among the best in the world. Photo above is taken in my favorite bakery, a very upscale place, and indicative of where my Anatolian City is headed.

Monday, July 16, 2007

One Week Left

Although I now feel ready to leave, I still have much to say about Turkey and my expat experience here. So I’m going to continue kloeamongtheturks for a while, and also talk about re-entry into American life.
I’m cleaning one room at a time; office, kids’ rooms, and living room are done. I need to see lots of friends this week, finish my paintings, give away all the art supplies and books in my office, drink the rest of my raki. I need to pack, and it looks like it’ll be expensive taking back some of my artwork, but wtf, I’m an artist, I never travel light.
I’ve written some posts that I haven’t published cause I thought them harsh, but maybe now’s the time. So here goes one:

Lest I Make Turkey Seem too Good to be True
Let me assure you, this is a third world, or more politically correct, developing country (photo is of a porcelain factory in Kutahya).
Where women are second-class citizens.
Where domestic violence is rampant.
Where the handicapped, mentally and physically, are kept at home by their families and there are almost no facilities to accommodate those with special needs.
Where people throw trash in the streets and rivers.
Where people smoke like chimneys and don’t care who breathes their second-hand smoke.
Where people drive like maniacs, few wear seatbelts, and pedestrians have no rights.
Where who gets the job depends on who you know.
Where unemployment is very high.
Where education often equals memorization.
Where intellectuals are assassinated.
Where there is no safety net.
Where you are old at 60.
Where many people feel trapped in their lives, with no way to start over.
Where women who experience sexual pleasure may be considered whores.
Where superstition reigns.
Where there are few gays or blacks or anyone openly different.
Where you don’t rock the fucking boat.

And for Fairness Sake, SoCal:
Where we consume ten times more than we need.
Where we produce mountains of trash.
Where we drive huge cars that drink gasoline.
Where the rich are so rich and the poor are poorer than the poorest Turks.
Where kids grow up way too fast.
Where kids graduate from high school barely able to read or think.
Where murders and kidnappings and rapes happen every day in every community.
Where public transportation is poor.
Where youth, physical beauty, and wealth are worshipped.
Where the elderly are disrespected.
Where racism is just below the surface of daily life.
Where we want to colonize every other country.
Where we arrogantly believe everyone else in the world wants to be just like us.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Final Thoughts on Documenta

I’m back on my couch in My Anatolian City (which is in a frenzy preparing for the upcoming election) and feeling much better after sleeping 10 hours in my own bed. I traveled the whole way with German Turks returning to visit the homeland. I can see a difference, especially in the rambunctousness of their kids compared to Turkish kids.
I want to thank my videographer friends who hosted me and my friend in Kassel. They drove us around, made us great German food, and mainly just wanted to talk Art. I admire that they came here from SoCal to do such a big project uncommissioned. Check out all their videos on the Documenta artists, you’ll learn a lot and be entertained too.
And to J who drew colorful tattoos all over my legs, a big kiss from Kloe!
(Pictured above is a German curator explaining how paintings by Kerry James Marshall relate to older work.)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Home Again

So I’m sitting in Starbucks at the International Terminal at the Istanbul Airport. I got here at 5:30am from Germany. Don’t even ask, I’m too tired to tell you why.
As you may have been able to tell from this blog, I’m sort of an emotional girl. I need to feel things intuitively, that the time is right and I’m ready before I do something. And I haven’t been ready to leave Turkey and return to SoCal. But now I am ready. It’s finished. Don’t ask me what happened, it was lots of small things, and things I can’t talk about, but I just know it that I have to go now. I miss my kids. My gram is ill. My paintings will be finished within the week.
I have been so happy professionally, and lately socially, in Turkey that it has been hard to think of leaving. But when in Italy and Germany, I felt excited about other places, the friends I was with, and I realized that life is possible after Turkey. SoCal is afterall one of the most desirable places to be on earth, I just have to stop taking it for granted.
As soon as I can think clearly again, I’ll continue to post about the art I saw at Documenta. But let me leave you to imagine this:
Zooming through impossibly green rolling hills very fast on roads like Disneyland, a castle or two in the distance, eating a warm liverwurst sandwich, smell of hand-rolled tobacco and warm beer, little Bavarian villages with maypoles and cows with bells.

Weird on Weird

LA artist Alan Sekula’s piece, Shipwreck and Workers (2005-2007), is a series of billboards about labor and globalization installed at the Bergpark Wilhelmshohe. The place is already fantastical, a huge manmade waterfall built in the 17th century. Add these bright photos to the place and you have double weird. See video here.
What I’m reminded of are those highway billboards you see as you enter small towns that demonstrate a primitive animation/narrative. Ugly but effective.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Hothouse, or Harem (1972)

This famous photomontage by New York artist Martha Rossler is low tech, of course. No feathered edges or adjusted tones. But it still shocks. It’s presented in the Schloss Wilhelmshohe, in a darkened room with a spotlight, like a jewel. I can relate it to both Turkey and Germany: Turkey where harems originate, but women are still under wraps (even in hot weather here, most are wearing pants or long skirts and long sleeves), and Germany, where in a gym lockerroom the other day the woman next to me casually disrobed and walked to the shower naked, chatting with me the whole time. I also like that Rossler’s Playboy pin-ups are still innocent compared to porn of today, but also passive, whereas women in today’s porn are very aggressive. Maybe a good thing?
Unfortunately, I'm a bit too small on top to fit in with these lovelies...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Three Dimensional

I wish I could transport the entire sculpture department at my university in Turkey here to Documenta. The 3D work in Turkey is stuck somewhere in the 1950s, with traditional marble and casting techniques predominating. Marble is beautiful, but what can you say with it easily, quickly, and urgently about what’s important NOW?
The sculpture in Kassel was great, better than the photography, painting and video. A few highlights:
Tanaka Atsuko’s Electric Dress(1956!!!!!, can you believe this?) Japanese Gutai performance artist Tanaka’s Electric Dress is fantastic as a sculpture both switched on and off. There were also photographs of her wearing it in the 1950s. I love everything about this piece: it’s color, its abstract repetive forms, it’s interactivity, it’s femaleness, it’s vanity, it’s messiness, it’s contemporary power.
The Zoo Story (2007) by German conceptual artist Peter Friedl, in a exhibition hall filled with cloth and stuffed works. The giraffe died in panic caused by the second Intifada in 2002 in the West Bank’s only zoo. I like this piece because it approaches a complex political problem in a fresh, funny and heartbreaking way, something that children can understand.
Template (2007), wooden doors and windows from destroyed Ming and Qing Dynasty houses by Ai Weiwei. The tower stood for only a few days before collapsing in a wind and rain storm (no one was hurt). The artist decided not to rebuild the structure because he thought it more beautiful and accurate as a ruin. I definitely agree.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Trisha Brown

This work was one of the best in the entire Documenta. The sculpture itself is compelling even without dancers interacting with it, but amazing when performed on. I saw 12 dancers doing minimal movement around the sculpture, while museum visitors walked in between the performers. Then three of these dancers got on and into the sculpture, putting their legs and arms into the clothing, then hanging down under the sculpture. Really exciting. My only criticism is that I wished the dancers had interacted with each other a bit more, like monkeys playing and fighting in trees, to fully exploit the emotionally possibilities of the space. But I don’t think Brown’s choreography is about emotion, that’s just my own preference.
Anyway, I felt like getting up there and joining them in the dance! See video here, be patient, it's worth the wait.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Erotic Taboo

I really loved this video work by Taiwanese artist Tseng Yu-Chin, a single take of a mother interacting with kisses and tenderness toward her three-year-old son. It rode the line between what is OK in society and what is forbidden, being too physically close to one’s child, especially between opposite sexes. I’ve done work with this issue in the past, and find viewers have a hard time talking about that intense bond. Now I’m interested in the breaking of that bond, having to distance myself from sons who are growing older. I’m considering another artwork dealing with this issue.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Thoughts on Place

This multimedia performance/opera in a shopping center was pretty interesting, mostly because of the mall, with people continually going up and down the escalators among the shops. It was directed by German American artist Alice Creischer.
Kassel was 80% destroyed during WWII, so is very modern. Because it is close to the border with the former Eastern Germany, it was not very developed, and unemployment remains at 20%. I’m hearing a lot of Turkish and Russian spoken around here.
Germany itself feels like a green (it’s raining), well-run machine compared to Turkey, which feels like a brown jury-rigged jalopy. Each has its advantages and problems. How’s that for being diplomatic?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Documenta Presentation

The Documenta is presented in Kassel in five main exhibition halls: three old palace-type-places, one modern permanent building, and one temporary exhibition hall. I very much liked the old spaces; they were varied without being obtrusive. Photo above is in the Museum Friedricianum, and you can see how the artworks are successfully interacting with eachother: sitting in Ai Weiwei’s chairs to watch a video by Hito Steyerl (about a woman searching for a bondage photo of herself...) and underneath see a performance on the Trisha Brown sculpture "Floor of the Forest."
The temporary building, the Aue-Pavillion, was a big disappointment. It was conceived as a greenhouse for art, but placed in a large green park, it was more like the kind of buildings you find at a country fair. I kept expecting to turn the corner and be greeted by a pie contest or show cows. The ceiling felt oppressively low, the lighting was too weak and the temporary walls did nothing for the large paintings. The work really suffered and I was bummed.
But, later I saw another space, the Schloss Wilhelmshohe, a museum for old Northern European Masterworks. Lots of swirling flesh and pinched breasts. And intersperced were modern works dealing with sexuality and identity. It was GREAT! Made the old stuff come alive, made the new work fit into art historical context.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Large and Flowing

Here’s another really impressive artwork, a ribbon-like sculpture by Brazilian artist Iole de Freitas that fills a huge second story gallery and also flows outside the building walls as if they were not solid. Many of the artworks here are small and low tech, and you begin to wonder what’s so special about them, but this sculpture makes a huge statement, like a Richard Serra by a woman.
This sculpture is also a nice foil to some bright John McCracken sculptures that dot the exhibitions like jewels or geometric surfboards.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Ai Weiwei

I’m here in Kassel, Germany at one of the most important art exhibitions in the world, Documenta 12. Besides the three main questions discussed previously, a fourth theme developed, the “transmigration of form.” Meaning, how motifs, both physical and conceptual, jump from country to country.
I’m going to start with one of the most exciting artists here, Ai Weiwei, from China. His project, “Fairytales” (a reference to the Brothers Grimm, who wrote in Kassel), was to bring 1001 antique chairs from China, which are placed in the exhibition sites for visitor seating. Then he is bringing 1001 Chinese citizens to Kassel in batches of 200 for a week (the work is sponsored by a Swiss company). The requirements were that they had never been out of China before. Most do not speak English or German. The photo above is one Chinese visitor sitting among some Chinese chairs. He gave me a kiss!
Ai Weiwei also built a tower out of antique Chinese doors and windows, but it collapsed after a few days (making it more valuable because newsworthy). This work is ALIVE! Challenging, interactive, and a bit threatening. His works interact with the spaces and artworks around them. Very cool.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day

Sometimes in this blog it may feel like I’m dissing my own country. Let me be clear, I LOVE Turkey. But I also like and love my country, as misguided and blinded it often is. So Happy Bday USA. Let’s try to make a change next year.
I’m traveling today, and after this Kloe is going ALL ART… sorry for those of you who are not interested, check back in a week.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

For my Brother

With love.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Blue Bird

“Am I breaking your balance?” This is what someone asked me the other day. I don’t think this is exactly what this friend meant, but it’s a metaphor for what Turkey has done to me. And it’s a good question. It implies that life is a balancing act, which I believe, and that sometimes we lose our balance, which may be a positive thing. Especially if you are an artist, as opposed to say, an engineer. What I value is different than what you probably think is important. Let's not judge eachother. Yes, my life has been upset here. It might have happened in SoCal too, but it could have taken longer for me to realize.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

One Turkish Woman

I want to paint a picture for you of one Turkish woman’s life, a close friend I love very much. She invited me to dinner tonight (Inegol kofte), and as they have very little money, it was a real treat. Here is what I know about her:
• Her family is from a village near Our Anatolian City.
• She did well in school and entered university in an engineering faculty, but after one year her father did not want her to continue, so she left and got married. She regrets it.
• She does not wear a headscarf.
• My friend has two children. Her son is now trying to get into university, but only one in five or six students who enter the entrance exam will get a place. As a fall-back he is in technical school to repair airplanes. Her daughter will attend dershane next year. This night school costs about $1500 a year, very difficult for the family to afford, but necessary if the teen wants to pass her eighth year exam to continue toward university.
• My friend stays at home because she cannot find work.
• She would like to be a writer and has in fact published one children’s book through a newspaper competition.
• She must, with her sisters, take care of her handicapped brother, her parents, and her mother-in-law. Her family problems exhaust her.
• They used to have a car, but they had to sell it.
• I have seen my friend’s husband forbid her to go out socially because he did not want to go with her.
• She does not drink or smoke.
• She does not know how to swim.
• She does not have access to the Internet.
• My friend has never been out of Turkey. She says she is unlucky.
I think my friendship with this generous and intelligent woman has in some ways hurt her, because she knows now more of what she can probably never have. I wish I could help make her life easier.