Saturday, March 31, 2007
I know I sound like I’m on the rag (which I’m not), but sometimes I am so furious at being born a woman in the last century. The freedoms that men take for granted are denied us, or only partially allowed. Things men can get away with are forbidden to women, and women who take them anyway are heavily punished. Just ask any man, would you be born a woman in your next life? And see what he says…
Friday, March 30, 2007
It’s the end of March and the weather feels summerish. Kid.01 and Best Friend.01 have no school today because the “abiler” (big kids) have exams, so you spend the morning at home overseeing homework and legos, making chicken soup and lemon bars. Lunch hour you go to Carrefour for t.p., fresh strawberries, etc., then deliver your bars 'n berries to your colleagues and friends. And the neighborhood kids get together at dusk, your kids jabbering away with them in Turkish. And you don’t have the heart to bring them in, because it reminds you of playing outside when you were young, which your kids can’t do much in the States, yelling and running in the street with sticks. Freedom!
Thursday, March 29, 2007
A short un-credited review of conceptual artist David Hammons’ new exhibit from The New Yorker, Feb. 5, 2007. I just love this criticism; it’s succinct, funny, and makes me want to see the work.
This rare show by the elusive Hammons is a calculated shocker that really shocks. In an august Upper East Side gallery, five gorgeous fur coats, including one in wolf and a breathtaking chinchilla, hang on antique dress forms, tenderly lighted. Their backs are ruined by methods ranging from spray paint to fire. The fact that the irony is obvious—costly things are made pricier, as art, by destruction—doesn’t soothe its sting. Hammons plainly appreciates the coats’ beauty. His vandalism conveys cold rage at a plutocracy that patronizes art-world games, from the sharpest player at the table.
Here’s a 1986 interview with Hammons
DOING THINGS IN THE STREET IS MORE POWERFUL THAN ART I THINK. BECAUSE ART HAS GOTTEN SO... I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE FUCK ART IS ABOUT NOW. IT DOESN'T DO ANYTHING... THE PEOPLE AREN'T REALLY LOOKING AT ART, THEY'RE LOOKING AT EACH OTHER AND EACH OTHER'S CLOTHES AND EACH OTHER'S HAIRCUTS.
THE ART AUDIENCE IS THE WORST AUDIENCE IN THE WORLD. IT'S OVERLY EDUCATED, IT'S CONSERVATIVE, IT'S OUT TO CRITICIZE NOT TO UNDERSTAND, AND IT NEVER HAS ANY FUN. WHY SHOULD I SPEND MY TIME PLAYING TO THAT AUDIENCE?
(painting above by J. Dunn)
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
The writer’s secret is not inspiration—for it is never clear where that comes from—but stubbornness, endurance… When I wrote, in my novel “My Name Is Red,” about the old Persian miniaturists who drew the same horse with the same passion for years and years, memorizing each stroke, until they could re-create that beautiful horse even with their eyes closed, I knew that I was also talking about the writing profession, and about my own life. If a writer is to tell his own story—to tell it slowly, and as if it were a story about other people—if he is to feel the power of the story rise up inside him, if he is to sit down at a table and give himself over to this art, this craft, he must first be given some hope. The angel of inspiration (who pays regular visits to some and rarely calls on others) favors the hopeful and the confident, and it is when a writer feels most lonely, when he feels most doubtful about his efforts, his dreams and the value of his writing, when he thinks that his story is only his story—it is at such moments that the angel chooses to reveal to him the images and dreams that will draw out the world he wishes to build…
Sometimes my father would stretch out on a divan, abandon the book or the magazine in his hand, and drift off into a dream, losing himself for the longest time. When I saw this expression on his face, which was so different from the one he wore for the joking, teasing, and bickering of family life, when I saw the first signs of an inward gaze, I would understand, with trepidation, that he was discontented. Now, many years later, I understand that this discontent is the basic trait that turns a person into a writer.
Excerpt from Orhan Pamuk’s Nobel Laureate speech
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
When I was younger I think I basically ignored or masked my mood swings. But after two pregnancies, I have learned to at least respect my hormones (which at one point after birth told me to never speak again). When they tell me to go to bed, I do. When they tell me to eat chocolate or cry or throw things (“Mama, I think you need to go to the gym,” said Kid.01 the other day), I do. And sometimes I feel so cold, unmoored. Maybe I notice these things more in Turkey cause my back-up support systems are not here.
Today I felt lonely, and tired of feeling lonely.
Monday, March 26, 2007
When I grow up I’m going to own a five star Hotel called the Hotel Gold. It will hav lots of water activites. Water ativites are: pool, slide, Beach, water gun, 5 sanus, Jacuzzi with bath tub, flower bath, 2 hawers massage, mud bath, cucumber eyes, hamam, jacuzzi. The rooms will hav 2 floores in it. The pool will be verey wowm and kids will love it.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
A small room in almost every workplace. In my faculty three full-time employees serve the faculty and staff, providing tea, Nescafe, Turkish coffee, juice, and water. A glass of tea costs about 20 cents, instant coffee with milk is 35 cents.
At the other extreme, I recently paid $6 for a cappuccino in Ankara at a Gloria Jean’s café.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
The other night two girlfriends and I went out to a meyhane, a restaurant that serves alcohol with food. We had mezes (salads, olive oil dishes and feta cheese), fish, and raki with ice. Almost everyone smokes in a meyhane, even my friend who normally doesn’t. There were live musicians. When you go to a meyhane it’s expected that you’ll stay for several hours, drinking, smoking, singing and eating. It used to be that women couldn’t go to such places without men, and women weren’t served raki. Thank God for progress.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Today I noticed three women janitors locked arm in arm striding down the faculty hallway. Janitors usually don’t stride or have big smiles on their faces. The middle woman was wearing a scarf and dressed to go out (which made me realize that cleaning staff also have to follow the no-headscarves-on-university law just like students, faculty and administrators--more on that later…)
Several hours later the janitor knocked on my office door and offered me cookies and Turkish delight. I asked her what she was celebrating, and she proudly told me she had got her driver’s license. A small step toward the middle class.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Five times a day you can hear, even from inside, the call to prayer from the closest mosque. It is in Arabic, not Turkish. I often wake up to hear the first one, which is before sunrise. In our Anatolian City all the mosques broadcast the same caller (muezzin), always male, so you can hear an echo across the city (strangely, most Turks don’t realize this fact, proof they long ago stopped hearing the azans). In other cities, including Istanbul, every mosque has its own caller, and each starts at a slightly different time, creating an amazing cacophony. Although the azan is not a song, it can be very melodic and beautiful, with lovely pauses and drawn out notes.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Monday, March 19, 2007
This Spring two important feminist art events are taking place in the U.S.–-an exhibition on the history of feminist art at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the opening of a permanent exhibition space for feminist art at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Important, because feminism has never before been addressed by a major American art institution (of course the critics and historians who care are outraged at this late acknowledgement, and me, too).
Here’s an excellent review of the L.A. show from the New York Times (you have to log into the site, but it's free). No art speak, just plain language explaining what’s good, what’s not, and why you should care. The show is up through July, so if you’re in L.A., don’t miss it.
Here’s another site not to miss this week: Post Secret. Go there, you won’t regret it.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Above we have a linguist/actress, an interior design professor, a housewife/children's book author, an elementary school teacher, and an education specialist/administrative assistant. Not in that order. Can you guess which is which Turkish woman?
Well shit, I sent an email to someone yesterday that was so full of sucky self pity I’m ashamed. That’s not the way I feel most of the time.
What I really want to express is gratitude for this incredible opportunity that I’ve been given, like an artist’s retreat that women like me, with kids, can’t normally go on. I don’t know what has happened to me here (is it the good Turkish milk? the extra walking, the lack of responsibility?), but I find that I am so bursting with ideas and creative distractions, I almost can’t keep up with myself. I thought that after my show I might take a hiatus, but no, new projects are crying out to me. I need more hours, more paint, more yarn, and more hard drive space.
Friday, March 16, 2007
I assigned my Cross-Discipline class an autobiographical performance, an action in 30 seconds. One student placed Turkish junkfood in front of her. Then she opened the chocolate, cookie and candy and brought each to her mouth, but stopped before taking a bite. In the end she didn’t eat anything, but scooped up the mess and exited.
The interesting part was critiquing this action. The Turks thought the artist was indecisive and distracted. The three Americans (I and two exchange students) thought she was commenting on women’s obsession with appearance and dieting, even health/anorexia. Which shocked the Turks. We Americans never acknowledge that it’s OK for a woman to eat a candy bar (especially a cheap one), while here stuff like that is marketed to adults during prime time t.v. And who is fatter?
You guessed it.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
What is valued in the Turkish artworld is a painter’s style. This explains why my students are overly concerned with finding their signature palette and technique. They admire my dramatic and colorful brushwork. Although this is not the only way I paint, I enjoy using this “a la prima” technique, because it is fast. My more conceptual stuff—the work that is valued in the States—is considered “research” here (read, messing around). For example, this blog, my gallerist told me, is research and won’t last, whereas my nudes will.
What do you think? Is it American imperialism, as my friend believes, to dictate what is valued? Can we tell the rest of the world to just throw away the thousands of years of traditional painting and sculpting, in favor of self-aware installation and video art?
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Last night we installed my show in my Ankara gallery. I thought 47 paintings might not be enough, but the walls are filled (galleries in Turkey tend to show lots of work, even hanging salon style—paintings above one another). I started a portrait of the gallery owner’s wife and finished it today, thank God she likes it. It’s sort of nerve wracking to paint right there on the spot in front of everyone…
My fear is that no one will come to the opening, as I have few friends in Ankara. I feel a bit like an orphan with no one to support me. But Turks seem to like my painting style, and I’ve priced my small nudes quite reasonably, so I hope they will sell. I don’t care about the money, but I want to please the gallery with sales. How’s that for self confidence? My God, Kloe, get a grip.
The scene at the gallery is so romantic, artists always hanging around drinking and smoking and drawing and taking photos and spouting about art. It’s like a time warp.
Friday, March 09, 2007
I am the epitome of Southern California, except for the tan. I like to wear tight clothes and very high heels, cause I’m thin and I can, and I’m only eight inches high. I wear bright lipstick and look younger than I am. I love going to the mall (was there just smelling the place yesterday).
However, I am not as slutty as I’m portrayed in the media. In fact, I’m a bit innocent and easily hurt. I can’t help it that I’m “colorful” in this Western/Eastern country. Even though I may seem bold and blunt, I am as insecure as any woman here. Almost. And to those really shitty Turkish guys who stare at me like I’m a freak, eat me.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
OK, today was International Women’s Day. What is it, you ask? Well, it’s sort of like Secretary’s/Admin. Asst. plus Che Guevarra Day, rolled into one. Love your mother/friend/coworker, and fight for women’s rights.
This is what I did: Taught at Kid.01’s school, where they gave me a flower. Kids were wild, as usual, especially the boys. We started a self portrait book. Went to the gym, but because of my cold I had a lame workout. Went to the new mall (see Nov. 5) and had a mixed experience (Carrefour wouldn’t take my MasterCard, when it works everywhere else in Turkey; then I couldn’t get to a taxi with my 10 heavy bags of groceries because construction continues in the mall…) Went to the faculty and painted for a few hours. Ran home, got the kids, and went to two art openings, which were rather good because of the copious amounts of snacks (including cig kofte—raw meat and lentil ball in lettuce) and hard alcohol served. Went to a pudding shop for dessert with the kids. Took the tram home. Got a letter from my mom that was nice. Thanks, Mom.
(photo is from a 12th century Byzantine palace in Bursa)
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Today I packaged 28 small acrylic nudes, matted and framed behind glass, 10 medium abstractions on wooden boxes, and 9 portraits on canvas, several still wet, just framed today under duress. Packaged—meaning cutting cardboard corners for each work, wrapping in bubble wrap and hand-making boxes—all to send by cargo service to Ankara to my gallery. Oh yeah, I also taught for 5 hours, and came home to a dinner party of 5 boys and their parents. We ordered pide, but still, we have no dishwasher and paper plates don’t cut it. Did I mention I also have a raging cold? Tomorrow is International Women’s Day. I hope I can rest, but I doubt it.
Sorry to be such a complaining bitch.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Simit, beyaz peynir, zeytin and cay (soft sesame pretzel, feta cheese, black olives and black tea)
Turkish chocolate, with or without nuts
Kaymakli Ayva Tatlisi (stewed quince with heavy cream)
Mezes and raki (Turkish appetizers, especially olive oil based, and anise flavored alcohol)
Lahmacun (very thin pizzas with spicy lamb, no cheese, stuffed with fresh parseley and lemon juice)
Monday, March 05, 2007
Did you know there is such a thing? Well, yes, Virginia, and I am a Cyberfeminist. Which means I make digital and web-based artwork that critiques society’s and the art world’s status quo. I do it gently, sweetly, with my red lips smiling and my eyelashes fluttering.
I’m currently in a cyber show based in Austria in honor of International Women’s Day (March 8). Check it out: Cyber Feminism Past Forward. Ooh and I’m keeping very good company…
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Kid.01, trying to convince BestFriend.01 and Kid.02 to listen to “Dracula” as a bedtime story:
“Who wants girly stories?”
“Who wants baby stories?”
“Who wants school stories?”
“Who wants SCARY STORIES?”
Kid.02 wanted a peepee/poopoo story, but I guess he was out of luck.
Today was BestFriend.01’s birthday and he got a Lego Mindstorm kit. Wow, are the guys growing up.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Oh dear, our friend who died yesterday was even younger than I thought, only 46. How can a man be used up by 46? What can I do to make a difference here, however small? I think I need to speak up about the conditions in the painting studios, where students work among open jars of turpentine, linseed oil, and varnish with no ventilation system. They also eat, drink and smoke in the studios, although I forbid the smoking when I’m there. Students are around only four years building these bad habits, but faculty have long-term exposure to the harsh chemicals. Will they listen to me now?
To join the European Union, Turkey will be forced to adopt much stricter health standards at businesses and schools. American health officials are also cracking down; university faculties can receive huge fines for having food containers (like paper plates or yogurt cups) in art/craft studios, for example. These rules save lives, though. For my part, I stopped painting with oils about ten years ago, strictly for health reasons. It’s just not worth the risk.
Posted by kloeamongtheturks at 3/03/2007
Friday, March 02, 2007
Today I was pleasantly minding my own business, living day by day, getting ready for my exhibition that is in about a week. I had two beautiful women sit for me to finish their portraits. And then I got a call that my framer, a friend, had just dropped dead in his shop (in front of another artist friend). I had an appointment to see him at 5pm to pick up my frames and new canvases. He was about 50 years old, a smoker, a great craftsman, who worked too hard around open chemicals with bad ventilation, with a heart condition, and a son about to take university exams. So what’s the surprise? This country is beating me to a bloody pulp.
A colleague delivered the frames, canvases and boxes he made for me. Tomorrow we’ll go to a memorial ceremony, and then the artists in my faculty will take his body back to his village for burial.
Posted by kloeamongtheturks at 3/02/2007
Thursday, March 01, 2007
I have spent the past eight years pretty intensely immersed in physical mothering: babies, toddlers, preschoolers. I nursed for almost six years combined. I always thought that I’d be the kind of attachment parent that had teenage boys hanging on her.
But as my boys are growing up, it’s not the way I imagined. They are now fascinated by things I have no interest in, like cars and robots and computer games (and let’s face it, violence). I find I don’t want my older child touching me in public. I feel myself separating from them, which would have caused me terrible pain earlier, but maybe it’s OK. They still come to me first when they are hurt. They still see me naked and walk in on me in the bathroom, but I know these times will come to an end too. I’m waiting to see what other kinds of relationships develop with them. But my life is definitely changing as much as theirs. I want my body back.