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Ceren Can Aydın

Or what is an artist, a musician, an audience, a critique, an architect?… Well, what is art? How ‘s a work of art  understood, or is it at all understandable?

Ayşe Orhon directs the questions above to all of the components of what we call ‘art’ in her performance, ‘Many’, she exhibited at garajistanbul in 8/9 November 2011. Orhon has set the subject of her dissertation as ‘Permeable Manifestations’ at the Master of Choreography Program in Amsterdam and, as far as I understand, this piece of dance is the fieldwork of her thesis or possibly just a part of it. The artist questions the circumstances she understands, does not understand and she thinks she is not understood, and the people, both from her own and other disciplines, who have more or less become a part of her own history. She questions her very own self in us. Her answer is evident: I am MANY -as many as the signs infused into my body as a dancer, but, at the same time, as many and multi-layered as the questions, answers, images crossing my mind.

Once she sets this point of view, she employs all kind of tools, whether she masters them or not, to communicate herself. The drawings used in the piece, which are inspired by the photographs of contributing artist Ebru Anıt Ahunbay, belong to her.  Orhon refers to some of the themes of other artists, whose name mentioned in the performance booklet however they do not actively contribute to ‘MANY’.

Since the fieldwork is the stage and the addressee of the questions is directly the audience, the preset rules of the game are compatible with Orhon’s objectives. As the purpose is to explore creativity, signs, the practices of watching, etc, a certain amount of space in choreography was allocated to ‘uncanny’ coincidences. For instance, the direct or indirect (by telephone) contribution of Oda Project to the performance space is an important factor for the audience to be able to read the performance. The same can be said when a random member of the audience is given a microphone, as s/he might do something unexpected. The way s/he does the things s/he was asked might either strengthen the affect of the piece or lessen it. And furthermore, this ‘uncanniness’ touches to the audience as well. They might feel anxious from Orhon’s invitation, “leave your comfortable chair and come to stage”, or they might think that this invitation is a trick of the performance and not real.

We hear two stories when we are welcome to stage. One is the story of an illusionist who can amaze the audience, and the other is the story of an architect who designed a seven-meter long tower into which only one person can fit. If I argue from the analogy, I can say that the story of the architect implies the subjectivity of experiencing contemporary art. Those who risk climbing the steps one by one might sometimes be bored, but also might have the chance to breathe the clean air coming in through a window. However, those who possess a more defined and secure position of being an audience in a relatively traditional show of the illusionist might feel a temporary happiness, but later think they are duped. Both of the experiences are, no doubt, immanent to art. Orhon’s piece corresponds to the former one. The reason of our anxiety is our very position, standing at the edge, about to climb all alone to be able to confront the ‘uncanniness’ or not.

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