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Architecture, Power and Coolness of Inscrutability (Or Just Another Try at Sexy Titles)

Eylül Akıncı

A “dreamscape” created with paravane-like white curtains and ground lighting, with a kneeling woman and a pillow-like stand in it… It is impossible not to be impressed by the stage design of Filiz Sızanlı’s solo work Site. The title of her performance already promises an attentive gaze and inquiry about landscapes, which is also convenient when you think of her professional field, architecture. However the performance in itself seems unable to fulfill this attempt, falling prey to unreadable conceptuality.

It opens with tiny movements of hands and arms evolving into bigger ones. She stands up and begins to utter intermittent sounds, walking and changing direction yet always her front and neck turned to us, facing upwards as if trying to catch raindrops with her mouth while dubbing their sound. Only when she goes silent and takes off one of the vests she wears, she turns her face towards us. Lying on her side, she talks in murmur and stutter (in Turkish, none of which was comprehensible from the seat I had sat), then she gets up and we hear her breaths and gusts accompanying her minimal repertoire of movements. She takes a tennis ball behind the curtains and bounces it, sometimes stealing a glance at her sides or us, moving in the stage and stepping on the stand. After letting go of the ball, she ends the piece running in circles within the procession of curtains; with waning and waxing lights, she narrows her trajectory, yet continues to run after the stage is completely darkened.

The program text of Site makes a statement about the sovereignty and architecture and at first sight it evokes related thoughts, indeed. Yet knowing or not knowing the artist’s specific intentions does not change the overall experience of the performance for the spectator. A sense of spatiality and boundary filled with an uncanny ambience is present, but the relationships between living structures and power or the “hospitality or inhospitality” issue to be examined are left in the air. What is presented throughout the performance, ignoring the previous statements, barely makes sense apart from more or less lingering the uneasy feeling one has from the beginning. Maybe further construction or reconstruction would increase the readability of the rest in accordance with Sızanlı’s particular motives; this serious undertaking should have been made more clear and solid so as to transform our casual conceptions, for I think the questions asked by the artist (only in text, unfortunately) are quite valid and relevant to our era.

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