"Wow!" (Made by Hand.)

Şener Soysal
About More

When does a drawing turn into an art piece? How does an art piece appear in a museum? When does a person become an artist? What criteria do museums follow while including the art pieces? How is a description included? These and many more questions began to hunt me with a photograph from the exhibition of the "Vav" piece, which was featured in the opening of Odunpazarı Modern Museum (OMM). This essay is a review of my inquiries and humble interpretations. 



OMM, which was established recently, came to the fore with its opening rather than the art pieces included. All the invited social media "influencers", criticisms, trades and politics were effective in this situation. It was such an opening that there was no time left to talk about the artworks. 

One of these works appeared on social media and surprised me a lot. The letter, "vav", drawn by the President during the groundbreaking ceremony was displayed in the modern art museum. Description of the piece also took place with a large tag. It was exhibited with the following text in large font: "This work of ‘Vav' was made on 17.02.2018, during the OMM groundbreaking ceremony. It was made by the hand of PRESIDENT OF TURKISH REPUBLIC RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN." This information, which became viral after the artist Eda Emirdağ's post on Instagram, made me rethink on art/exhibition/museum.


Source: kulturservisi.com


In an essay previously published in Sanat Dünyamız, I asked a question of "Can anyone using the industrial object as an instrument become an artist?" and inquired how industrial design can be turned into an art piece. I assumed that changing the material, size or context of an object could turn it into an art piece. Furthermore, I stated that changing the venue of an object or determining its production as a limited edition can also turn it into an art piece. In brief, these subjects were a guide for me, and everyone could have an art piece by applying one of them. Corresponding examples to all these assumptions were mentioned in the essay. 

Although the situation in the OMM is a little bit different, it makes me get excited to think about the question: "What criteria do art museums follow while including the art pieces?" For this reason, I have examined the details of the exhibition process of the "Vav" and listed them: 

Feature of Performance / Sharing The Production Process of The Work: The artwork is drawn in front of cameras and audiences. The expecting result might not have been produced in the first attempt, and it might not meet the expectations. Every kind of risk is possible. So it is a quasi-performance. Although the originality of the artwork produced is open to discussion, it may be seen important that this is performed in front of everyone. The work-tag also refers to the feature of performance by stating "During the OMM groundbreaking ceremony".


Source: kulturservisi.com


Crafting / Art Piece as Handicraft: Although Duchamp has changed the view of crafts in our modern world, this concept is still crucial. Once again, the crafting part was underlined with the phrase "made by hand" on the tag. Thar crafting can have a serious meaning for the museum. Likewise, the crafting is the one that distinguishes this piece from the others in the production of an existing image. 

Presentation / Text & Artwork Relation: Although the presentation method of the work is classical, the relation between the tag and the artwork has an unusual style. The tag is written in a remarkable size as the work. Obviously, the part we assume as a tag also becomes a part of the artwork. 


Thinking about these assumptions also encouraged me to produce such an artwork. Following a similar path, I recorded the process as a video to make a performative production, "made it" by my hand, and wrote a tag under it: 


"This work of ‘Wow' was made on 10.09.2019, shortly after the opening of the OMM, by the hand of GRAPHIC DESIGNER ŞENER SOYSAL."


As someone who is in favour of producing original content, I could not draw the same letter, vav. However, as someone who likes games, a phonetic "Wow!" I preferred. I know it is not the same thing, maybe it is a bit of a joke. I have done almost all items of the "Guide to producing artwork according to the OMM" based on my assumptions. To give more ideas to the OMM, I also made a presentation similar to the exhibition of "Vav". 

I aware, maybe I am too far from practising an item I missed, and my title is definitely different. I do not want to behave like an artist full of ego. But, how about that, can my work be included in OMM? Or can the OMM specify the criteria for exhibiting the "Vav" work?   

This essay is supposed to end here. But recalling an interview we had with Nazif Topçuoğlu made me express one more approach. As a response to "Can anyone be an artist" question, he emphasized that it was not important what title a person has. The important thing should be whether the work produced was valuable or not. Ultimately, we can assume that the value of the artwork is determined by the interest of the audience with some knowledge of art history and concepts. Just because an artwork is in an art venue does not mean that it is a quality artwork. The value change of Kenan Evren's paintings during the periods that he was in-power and out-power must be related to this.