Magazine article Artforum International

Sarkis: Dirimart Dolapdere

Magazine article Artforum International

Sarkis: Dirimart Dolapdere

Article excerpt

Sarkis

DIRIMART DOLAPDERE

Sarkis deals with signs of living and living signs. It is not unusual to hear that his light boxes are kept lit beyond an exhibition's opening hours, or that he agonized over a brief planned power cut for the maintenance of Respiro, his installation for the Turkish pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale. Not simply the caprice of an established artist, these particularities stem from his decades-long engagement with memory theory, which took center stage at this show, "Ayrca" (Mirror), cocurated by the artist and Ceren Erdem.

For the occasion, The Treasure Chests of Mnemosyne, the 1995 anthology on memory theory edited by Sarkis and art historian Uwe Fleckner, was translated into Turkish for the first time, and guided the eclectic hanging. The exhibition itself was a multilayered tribute to Aby Warburg's efforts, especially in his Mnemosyne Atlas, 1924-29, to prove the persistence oi Pathosformeln (pathos formulas) in representations across centuries and civilizations. Here, as with Warburg's famous "memory panels" in Atlas, Sarkis juxtaposed works from various periods--often featuring artifacts or photographs from different times and geographies--along the whole span of the walls, ceiling to floor, in an attempt to capture humankind's Leidschatz (treasury of sufferings). For him, the endowment of form enables an accumulation of memories, thereby allowing images to retain a mnemonic charge. The artist does everything he can to keep moments, sentiments, and reflections alive.

This inclination seems to materialize in Sarkis's recent adoption of kintsugi, a Japanese repair method for ceramics that does not hide the cracks it tries to fix, but highlights them as marks of beauty. In Kintsugi 3 (for Dmitri Baltermants) with camouflaged Leica 1,2014, for example, a golden lacquer line of repair stretches diagonally across a World War 11-era photograph of Soviet soldiers hiding behind the wall of a half-destroyed house. They are warily surveying the scene outside while the photographer (intentionally or unintentionally) freezes them in the same frame with a vase of flowers, miraculously still sitting atop an upright piano in the wrecked interior. The artist's "stitching" of the photograph with kintsugi, and the addition of a contemporaneous camouflage-painted Leica (one can imagine that it might be the camera that took this picture) heralds a future togetherness that will preserve the memory of the photo's fractures, just as signs of life like flowers on a piano denote the ultimate return of better days. …

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