A Turkish poet, Nazim Hikmet, said that we should take life seriously.
Living is no laughing matter:
You must live with great seriousness
like a squirrel, for example—
I mean without looking for something beyond and above living,
I mean living must be your whole occupation.
I mean with the outside beyond the walls.
I mean, however and wherever we are,
we must live as if we will never die.
if you're going to say "I lived" ...
On Living, Trans. by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk (1993)
How serious can one really live life?
A direct contradiction in a Turkish proverb, "Su yolunu bulur", means, "Water finds its course".
Perhaps the resolution is in the reference frames from which we perceive reality and emotions and in our ability to find peace with "not knowing".
It manifests itself in the perceived dichotomy between determinism and faith. We seem to experience this paradox through richness of our processes, often showing keen
commitment to control. Unsurprisingly, we often realize the inevitability of lack of it. Ultimately, we seem to often optimize our existence between contradictions.
This is Ebru's Kismet.
Kismet is a complex word in Turkish. According to an online dictionary it means anything between, "destiny, fortune, lot; luck, chance; chance of marriage for a girl, match"
At Ebru's life:
Kismet is a toy
Kismet is a process
Kismet is an experiment
Kismet is about determinism
Kismet is about uncertainty
Or just a simple object – as simple as it is, with many layers.
Ebru's first stop to break out and control, was at an ambitious new school in Ankara, Turkey. That school was also dream of a man who wanted to control. It would be the home for future's great artists, scientists, engineers as a place for ambitions, where everything could become reality through perseverance. She also found her first aspirants there, obsessed about creating, shamelessly decorating the architecture school with her bold, thick colours bursting out of oversized canvases, while sleeping in a whole white sterile dorm room every night.
Years and many works later, Ebru spots an object at a shop in Amsterdam, hears a shopkeeper's story of a Countess from the 17th century. It is a simple toy, Countess's solution to her problem of determining her companion for the night by picking from a velvet case. That was Countess's Kismet. We can never know if the Kismet would be a partner for satisfying her need for desire or compassion. Ebru gets excited with her finding, what an interesting life it should have been. The only obvious link in Amsterdam between then and the 21st century are probably the bikes that Ebru, remarkably, managed to find herself on, and off, all so often.
The final destination defines the work, details are hidden, layers are not obvious, available only to keen eyes – just like our lives. Function is important, although she often gets seduced by form. Kismet then turns out to be a very delicate but yet solid and seductive, patiently built object.
Ebru's path also is a diverse one, not one format, not one place, not one theme, not one media, not one process.
From "Sugar Top Girl" in New York, to "Sugar Chandelier" in Istanbul, to"Glass Flowers" inspired in Boston, to vibrant Brazil with "City Cinema". At the background, sure of her principles, eager follower of her new aspirants, finding herself, in trips like the one to Newport, starting to have fun sipping her first champagne.
Her imagination, which is almost always so distant from real experiences, with different drivers, end up in seemingly common conclusions like in"Jawbreaker", a relentless effort projected on a screen. She saw this peculiar big white solid candy for the first time in London. Ebru has always stayed away from "junk food", except for few wild attempts. Her choice here is clearly peculiar.
There is pure pleasure, window to an unknown world, in the often emerging "round objects", swirling in "Bitter Chocolate Love". This is yet again recording of an artisanal process, delicate and patient, an expert's work. There is a lot common in terms of diligence and passion between Ebru and the artisans who she works with her during these projects; including the respect for the process itself.
Traditional expectations and kindness that she grew up with at an Anatolian city at a formal family environment turns into gentle persuasion in Ebru's"Presentation".
Ebru finds herself at one of the oldest streets in Istanbul, in "Beyoglu", where an historic, French influenced late Ottoman building, gets giant teardrops reaching down from its balconies, like it did for over hundred years, re-enforcing its presence in its environment.
Boundaries and willingness to break them are in the "Corset", custom built, unique work of an expert, as once again, Ebru couldn't accept any other way. Here again, Ebru is a brave woman, challenging herself, getting comfortable. Art has been more liberal than the societies, times that they initiated from. This is no different for Ebru, but here she is catching up quickly now.
There is discipline, patience and immortality in the streets of Amsterdam with "Facing Lace" – a modest reward to many including Ebru. Meanwhile, Ebru would find consciousness in her methodology, transforming from being driven by pure beauty and sensuality to systematic analysis of the layers of her end observations – like a scientist. A trip to Mesopotamia, Tur Abdin, home to many cultural layers since the start of the civilization, is not only about what she sees. It is about what she doesn't see, understanding a landscape where only religions and languages have been borders.
"The Last Memorial Kindergarten" is search for reality this time, focusing on the impact of a tragedy via truly looking at the future, a bright promise. Understanding such a tragedy was so distant to reconstruct for Ebru's personal palette, after making library her new address, but ultimately ending up with a work which portrays the very vivid impact. Again, we are in urban streets of Munich, Haus der Kunst, and Ebru is living in a fragile existence.
When you are looking for a toy, you should not become a toy yourselves. This 21st century Countess's journey has very basic human needs, a bursting, yet very selective need for passion but a subdued, shy approach. This 21st century Countess hasn't always left everything to luck, have lived a very measured life for the most part. Yet this Kismet is as solid as the ebony, as smooth as the glaze inside the porcelain cell, as fertile as the bull's testicles.
Ebru starts looking for bigger formats, goes back to architecture with a big dream in "The Left Over Viaduct", a long summer, tribute to Izmir, Ebru's childhood home, and complete free fall into everything unlived before.
From concrete to seductive "Roses" and "Forget me Not", organic to glass, static representations to objects that desperately provoke one to touch, Ebru's commitment has seemingly common overarching themes. She seeks solid perfection, harmony with few contrasts, while being surprisingly adaptive, not so surprisingly simply hungry for peace and stability. Her choice of media is not only optimal for projecting the impact she is seeking but also often carefully thought of inviting others to her life, to share and step out of loneliness.
Ebru's Kismet is a path through strong energy and willingness to explore, admiration for beauty and expertise, reinvention faute de mieux not only as an artist but as a human and woman, struggle to reconstruct lives – a conscious and gifted yet ordinary human life manifesting itself in magic.
published in "AT HOME, WHEREVER" Contemporary art in Turkey series edited by René Block (catalog)
(in English and in Turkish) YKY Publications, Istanbul
"Ebru Özseçen" p.136-151