Sunday

Open call


i am hakan akçura
those who

gave birth to, breast-fed, brought up, changed diapers of, kissed, dressed, undressed, covered, caressed, ill-treated, fed, gave food to, left hungry, slept, awoke, loved, did not love, watched over, betrayed, educated, denounced, slapped, landed a fist on, kicked, bastinadoed, wetted, beat, healed, injured, operated, broke, packed up, shook, amazed, investigated, wondered, considered me important, did not consider me important, learned, knew, forgot, asked, did not ask, searched, found, remembered, did not remember, pulled my leg, irritated, maddened, provoked, perverted, tempted, remembered me good, remembered me bad, took me the way I am, could not take me the way I am, read, viewed, felt, sensed, watched, chased, arrested, imprisoned, judged, punished, sentenced, released, pardoned, did not pardon, waited for, heard, pushed, bumped, caught, stabbed, carried, made me faint, made me come around, upset, endured, did not endure, comprehended, yearned for, embraced me passionately, dreamed of, pleased, canceled, could not cancel, wanted, did not want, fell out with, examined, exploited, awarded, squashed, stung, tightened, wrote, painted, documented, shaved, weighed, thought of, cheated, saved, made me live in misery, made me beg, weakened, tired, shared with others, listened, heard about, wanted to kill or cursed me…

those who


surprised, worried, bumped, gave food, gave money, provided shelter, told their troubles, interfered with, got angry with, hated, posed for, trapped, attacked, fell in love with, presenting their bodies to, paid salary to, massaged, accompanied, befriended, called at, gave their love, stung, betrayed, scolded, made propaganda to, felt hatred of, had mercy on, felt compassion for, were offended by, shouted at, whispered, told, embraced, believed, disbelieved, harassed, prized, gave a diploma to, gave school reports to, gave school marks to, helped me to cheat, teased, conspired against, rented their houses to, sold objects to, sold clothing to, sold food to, sold cigarettes to, sold alcohol to, sold their bodies to, buy meals for, buy drinks for, gave presents to, gave passes to, throw balls at, tortured, damaged, gave pain to, put probes on, administered injections to, administered serum to, gave medication to, cussed at, told their troubles to, asked questions, gave answers, hated, stood, supported, psychoanalyzed, foisted themselves on, had mercy on, objected, fired at, ordered, enchanted me…

those who


accompanied me, made love to, spoke to, ate with, drank with, competed with, made fun of, fought, quarreled, were beaten, tortured, wrote graffiti, handed out statements, published magazines, carried out political actions, shouted slogans, sang, played chess, played games, shared, had discussions, debated, created, worked, walked around, walked the streets, traveled, were accused, were tried, educated, acquit, did time, slept, were interrogated, were arrested, were imprisoned, were remembered, lived, were seen, raced, clashed, supported, cooperated, danced with me…

those who

took lessons, cheats, purchased paintings, listened seminars from, were bored with, fell out with, wanted to get rid of, got rid of, took side with, had expectations, got more than they bargained for, received letters, received presents, received e-mails, received books, stole some things, leaned on, got promises, escaped from, were fed up with, hated, had hopes, did not hopes from, forwent, demanded some things, wanted explanations from, were scolded by, beaten by me…

she who is

my mother and

those who

were brothers, loves, friends, buddies, lovers, comrades, sidekicks, relatives, kinsmen, teachers, neighbors, landlords, school mates, class mates, business mates, street mates, inmates, army mates, sports mates, workshop mates, editors, employers, bosses, doctors, dentists, psychologists, grocers, butchers, green grocers, postmen, waiters, commanders, interrogators, torturers, guardians, prosecutors, judges, competitors, enemies of mine…
yes all those people, who got to know me one way or another… i want you to send me a page whose subject is me, which indicated how they see me, which pointed out the place they allocated for me inside them, which stated or told me, which will be written, drawn or created by them. sender of said page may identify or may not identify himself/herself. furthermore, senders might send an object, photograph, video cassette, film or audio cassette instead of such page. the pages or objects in question, which I would like to receive until my birthday of November 27, 2000, will be framed or otherwise prepared for presentation side by side in order of receipt, and be exhibited at a date as close to my birthday as possible. please be assured that I shall not tamper with said pages and objects (mirrors of my life), and exhibit them whatever their contents are. please contact me at the address Hakan Akçura, P.K. ..., Beyoğlu, Istanbul, Turkey, or at hakcura@............com Those who want to leave a voice message are welcomed to the answering machine at +90 212 249 .. ..

i want my mirrors

Announcement

The event of art entitled "I Want My Mirrors" started when the artist's announcement was advertised in Turkish and in English in his column entitled Kekeme (Stutterer) included in a site captioned Contemporary and Traditional Arts within www.superonline.com/sanat.

On the same day as the announcement was advertised in the Internet, the artist began to send the following e-mail captioned "A call from Hakan Akçura: I want my mirrors" to the addresses of over 500,000 Turkish users:

"Hello,

The link given below concerns an unusual event of art.

Entitled "I Want My Mirrors", this event is a call addressed to tens of thousands direct and millions of indirect subjects of my life.

All informative development concerning the content of this link (i.e. other links to be given, printed announcements, interviews, etc.) will be notified to you.

Aiming not to remain distant from the subjects it can reach by nature, this event tries to trail a way by means of this message sent simultaneously to over 500,000 e-mail addresses.

Nevertheless, I want or beg you to relay this message to all people in your address book (and even to ask them to send it to all in people in their address books...)

Furthermore, I ask all people, who are able to have my announcement given in the following link published in the Press, to do so in order to help me to realize this event of art.

I've set off on a journey!..

"I Want My Mirrors "

http://www.superonline.com/sanat/................

Thank you in advance!

Solidarity and support from internet

Web sites which advertised the "I Want My Mirrors" announcement, or included it in their links, or interviewed the artist, or published articles about his event to prove their solidarity and support:














"I agree every possible thing in advance"

What do you really aim with this event? I mean, what is your main purpose beside the fact that it is an unusual event of art?

As you know, artists don't really like the word 'purpose'...That attitude sounds good to me too, but "I Want My Mirrors" has definitely no pre-determined purpose I keep as a secret, I don't want to disclose to you! It is a project where what is important is not its purpose, but its very itself...It is an event of art for which I cannot have a net or determined expectation as to what will it bring, where will it lead to, what it will turn into. As to what it is, from my point of view I can describe it as a 'confrontation with my reflections on all subjects of my life'. It seems from the incoming 'mirrors' that it might also turn into a confrontation with a number of new objects which have not taken place in my life so far in the shapes I had described in my announcement.

Well, what is more important for you, the fact that this project is an unusual event of art, I mean a debut in a sense, or the fact that you will confront with yourself through all the people who got to know you in one way or another?


It is true that it is a debut. In this planet Earth many artists made activities letting them confront their this or that period, generally their troubled periods. But they always interpreted it themselves, presented it as their own journey, however ruthless style or method they chose...I chose to confront the whole of my life spanning 38 years, and hit the road with the decision that it must bypass me in order to be genuine. I asked all subjects who got to know me one way or another, without discrimination, to send my reflections/mirrors on them, for the purpose of exhibiting the reflections in question at that, promising I shall neither interfere with them, nor sort them, nor create a hierarchy among them, insisting that I shall exhibit them at the first come-first exhibited principle...

And this situation leads to a paradox. Everybody who has sent my reflections/mirrors on them knows or will get to know very well that what they sent are objects of art to be seen, read and reviewed by thousands of visitors... Therefore, everybody will have sent my reflection on them to as much me as the others...And I can see the anxiety caused by this situation even now.

No, even if you have asked it to me once again, I have no purpose. I'll just witness whatever they send, whatever the things they send will form. I agree every possible thing in advance. And I do my best to stand strong against those things. And what I precisely want is this 'happening'.

Do not hang up on the word 'purpose'. I neither think nor try to find out whether you want to get a benefit out of this event; I just wander why did you attempt to stage this event, how did the idea of it spring to your mind?


This is a more answerable question for me. I reached a point in my life where I could say "I won't grieve if I die today!". Why, how, the answer is my secret! And I am also far from the freedom of being able to prefer to die, which I always thought is one of the greatest liberties of mankind. Because mine was a walk of life where Death was a companion... Now I am at a point in my life where I am just distracted...Where I try to regain the joy of life. In spite of that, I've noticed that I am standing on the edge of an event where I fully expose my private life to attacks. Maybe I have to own all my mirrors in order to be able to shatter all of them. In fact, this was the opinion of a friend: 'You want to walk on the shreds of the mirrors you shattered in the future!' Maybe... I really don't know. What I know very well is that I never had the courage to do so one, two or five years ago, as there was no Hakan Akçura who would consider to do so meaningful either...

My life flowed over two big cities, two primary schools, one junior high school, one high school, two universities (most of which saw me to act as a classroom spokesman, head of a cultural branch, or student representative), two prisons, three police departments for political offenses, tens of prison blocks, cells and detention houses, forty houses, tens of workplaces. Also over ten thousand people, and, most importantly, my announcement originally targeted to reach about 40,000 people; I would have liked to reach all of them if I could, if I had the strength to do so.

On the other hand, I am living in a country where there are too many people like me, who lived the last 4 decades as long and tiring as I did. It is me who can call his mirrors, at the same time I know and see there are others who can call their mirrors. However, this situation is not the 'mission' of this event!

Let's say I lived too long, I was tired too much, so I pondered and called!?..

I already guessed before hearing your answer that it would contain a mystic statement. What I mean with the word 'mystic' is not its literary connotation, but another thing similar to it. Sufism (Islamic mysticism) has a process entitled 'turning into dust', referring to one becoming open to everything, completing everything, covering everything...In a sense this event probably has such a meaning...What will you do when your mirrors came in, will they be released only in the Internet after the deadline you set has elapsed? Do you work on it? And, though it is still early to ask, what reactions you got? Is there anything you forgot or you would describe as confrontation in the mirrors sent to date? I mean are there things which perform their own confrontations by using your confrontation as a tool?

All mirrors sent to me will be exhibited at a gallery or exhibition center. This is an event of art to be exhibited primarily and with priority...The first deleted text of my announcement contained a sentence stating that I would open the exhibition on my birth day. Then I forwent, because I didn't know how much mirrors would be sent, in what shapes, in what sizes. Therefore, where and when my mirrors are going to be exhibited will be determined by their very own quality and quantity. What is definite is that they will be exhibited in Istanbul, not be released to the Internet. The pages will be framed and hung on the walls; three-dimensional objects will be put on bases if necessary; audio records will be played on headphones so that visitors will be able to listen to them, and to see flowing images on a number of monitors. Furthermore, if necessary the entire exhibition will be compiled in a book accompanied with a multimedia CD.

Now I'd like to answer the second part of your question...

17 mirrors were sent within 2 days. About 40 people called me to discuss the project and to make their decision. Hundreds of e-mail were sent to support the project. The possibility that some of the objects of my mirrors might or would present their own existence as my mirrors was something I expected...And I expected some of them to ruthlessly attack to me... to give carpeting to me! But I've learned and seem to continue to learn something I never knew so far: information about how much I am included in the journeys of some other lives. This is thought-provoking and impressive for me!

This announced was sent to thousands of e-mail addresses by now. But it should be published in newspapers and magazines by all means. I am looking for ways to do so in the present. But it is very difficult, given that it involves advertising and that I can't afford it!

Shall we have the chance to see your mirrors before they are exhibited?


Nobody will have that chance, and I think nobody should have it! Maybe frame makers, maybe printing house workers will have that chance. But aren't they the tight-lipped people who always get to know public secrets first in this world?!

How many people are actually involved in the project?


I am alone except for some friends who try to find promotion and advertising means for me, and some others whom I always ask to give me ideas, every time I set off on a journey!

You had said that some people criticize you with trying to be a media-friendly person. Let me ask it too: Did you attempt to realize this project just for ensuring Ayşe Arman to interview you?

I am ready to be interviewed by everybody. In fact, Ayşe gets better and better day after day as an interviewer, when she stops talking about herself. I would demand live interview if only Reha Muhtar is interested in me. Because such an opportunity of information should not be missed in our age of disinformation...(an field having nothing to do with my project, but having too many things to do with this country and the horrible media companies here). And what I won't answer is already clear and present: nobody can question or display my life underlying the tens of words comprising my announcement...

Will this process not affect your other activities? In fact, how do you manage to find time for all these things? Or did you manage to expel sleep from your life, like Boris Vian once did?

In my opinion time is a notion which can be bend, twisted, pulled and extended depending on one's life style, some thing that can be experienced in several layers. And the answer to your question is 'I don't know!' Somehow it happens. I think I'll open two exhibitions at home and 5 others abroad this winter. After a long pause I returned to my studio, and I am painting those pictures. One and only advantage brought to me by the 'I want my mirrors' project is that it is an exhibition for which I shall not work at all... And I am not sure whether I can count as wasting time the joy, honor, sadness, rage, disappointment, bewilderment and fury I shall feel by reading, seeing and touching every mirror of mine.

Then there is another factor: everybody tends to escape from their past, but you preferred to question it, confront it, and to realize such confrontation together with the people whose lives intersected with yours one way or another, with the whole society (at least those who will notice this event). Does that attitude stems from your trust in what you experienced, or from your courage?

I think I'm not the person who should answer this question. The things you would be able to say about yourself should have a certain limit. Shouldn't it!

I think you are the last person to talk about a limit. Furthermore, in my opinion you should answer this question.

No, I shouldn't. This country became home of the people who don't refrain from praising themselves, from politicians to artists, because those who should review those people, report the truths about those people in a competent way are insufficient and lazy, or don't exist at all in some cases.

Interview with the artist by Emine Nergis Uçak of Ihlas News Agency

"All mirrors sent to me will be exhibited by all means"

Your project, definitely a first in Turkey and probably a first in the world, is entitled 'I Want My Mirrors'. Let's start this interview by hearing why did you entitle it so.

This project is a projection based on my life. The word 'mirrors' was chosen on the grounds that it corresponds to the action I chose at the point where I want my reflections to be. I might also say that it corresponds to the definition of the word 'reflection'. I think the project's title contains a paradoxical association of mirror, in a sense. Because when the subjects of my life send their reflections, they will not have sent just my reflections in them. As I explained in the announcement, their reflections i.e. my 'mirrors' will be displayed to thousands of people they never knew. Therefore, I can't guess how will they or we experience them.

I know you had first contacted the newspapers to have your announcement advertised. Did you advertise it in the Internet first because of any problems you had with them?


Yes. Because I was taught that it was not a realistic dream to think of having a supportive announcement advertised in the newspapers. Even if some editors, reporters or other personnel of newspapers decided to support my idea from the heart, their board of directors or advertising managers refused to advertise my announcement. I think the basic reason of their attitude was their fear that such a support would encourage other artists to ask for the same. But somehow none of them gave a clear negative answer to me. As a result, I could not get the announcement advertised in the Press, and decided to advertise it through the Internet. I used a database in order to try to reach all Internet users in Turkey. I sent it to fifty, sixty thousand e-mail addresses, and asked every receiver to send it to all people in their address book. Now I understand I reached too many people, beyond my wildest dreams. Then I continued by asking many sites to assign a page to me for the sake of support.

Let's speak about the concept of your project. How will this event be arranged?


First of all, I want to explain a basic aspect of this project. By nature, this project is an event where I am unable to answer such questions as how is it prepared, what does it aim, what I expect from it. It is absolutely a non-arranged project. As you would admit, it is a quiet unusual call. It naturally is a call inviting to a hurting process. In a sense, I expose my private life to attacks. For the first time in my life I attempt to realize such a non-arranged project, and what I call brings a kind of confrontation with all subjects of my life...What does it mean, what will it bring, what kind of an exhibition will it be, I don't have answers to these questions. What I am sure from the beginning is just this: If I would confront all subjects of my life, the only subject that have to stay outside must be myself. This event would not have been genuine had I not been excluded from it. Therefore, I had to leave the subjects of my life alone in the field where they will take what lies in their hearts about me; so I left them alone.

What reactions, what questions were given or asked to you, who want his mirrors, who look for your reflections, to date?

Many people attempted to debate with me as to what I want, how much the things they prepared suit me and this project. When I begin to talk to an object of mine, I'd say 'You can share with me what you want to share with me without hesitation, and please welcome to ask all the things you want to ask, but never expect me to comment.' Because this is a journey they have to take alone. At this point there is no specific definition for me. There is only a definition for them. Everybody I reached through my advertisement knows that the mirrors they will send are going to be objects of art to be seen by crowds. If they will feel confusion because of this fact, it must be solved by themselves. Another point I find interesting is a number of e-mail messages sent by the people who don't know me, asking questions to understand this project. Apart from that, I received about 100 supportive messages. Some people considered my announcement bold, enviable, exhibitionist, scary, romantic or sad. What was nice was that none of said people wrote any definitions which I am scared to hear from them. For example, I was scared that some people would find my announcement media-friendly.

Thus everybody who will send a reflection to you, I mean every mirror, will become a partner to this project in a way.

Yes. This is an important aspect of the event. I think I emphasize an important point by stating in the announcement that this is an event of art...I announce that I genuinely seek my genuine reflections. Thus everybody who will make an object to tell Hakan Akçura and attend my exhibition is given an authorization to create a work of art. In other words, I present a position of competence and feasibility..

How will the 'mirrors' to be sent to you will be presented in the exhibition?


All mirrors sent to me will be exhibited by all means. Every mirror, article, drawing and voice record telling me and sent to me will be presented in the exhibition in the order of receipt by me, without being censored. Therefore what remains to do is presentation works only. For example, a mirror sent to me in the form of a voice record will be played by means of headphones and its transcription will be displayed at the exhibition. If a mirror is an object, it will be put on a base. Thus all mirrors sent to me will be displayed to the visitors in the same place at the same time in the order of receipt. Thus no mirror will turn into a thing different from its original state...

Do you think to add your own works (objects, writings, paintings) to the exhibition in its present form?


Neither an object nor a line created or written by me will take place in the exhibition. We are living in a world where an idea itself, a concept itself is considered art, for a long time. I shall take place in this event as the creator of its concept, as the drawer of its method, and as the owner of the exhibition. Although it is me who call for this exhibition, who work to prepare this exhibition, it will contain not even a single line written by me. Furthermore, I plan to turn this exhibition into a book. That book will contain nothing but the mirrors sent to me.

I know you received about 20 mirrors to date. Given that the advertising of your announcement began only a few days ago, it is a very good amount. What I wonder is that are there people who have sent a mirror but refusing to sign it?

Sure there are. Everybody has this right. Everybody can send a mirror without adding information as to his/her identity to it. Furthermore, those who don't want to write a letter will be able to leave their messages to my answering machine until 27 November.

How did you compose the announcement?

I wrote a draft, then shortened it for six times. I wanted to refine it to a text describing all direct or indirect subjects of my life. The text aims to let everybody, whether or not knowing me, have an idea as to where did the artist in question spend his life.. While doing this, I did my best not to be sensational, to let the reader feel it. Therefore, the reason why I don't wonder the mirrors in such a manner to distinguish between them is my genuineness.

I think it is not a coincidence that the deadline you sent for receiving the mirrors is 27 November, your birthday.


That date was stated as the opening date of the exhibition in the draft announcement. There are some rules to be obeyed in order to settle the location and timing aspects of an exhibition. I noticed that in order to decide on a certain location, I had to know what would I exhibit. Knowing the quality, size, number and description of the mirrors will enable me to decide a location and date. Since I still don't know said items, I changed the exhibition opening date to the deadline of receipt. Thus the mirrors will arrive until my birthday.

Can the qualities or emotional content of the mirrors sent to you until 27 November cause you to give up on opening the exhibition?

I don't think so. But nothing is guaranteed in life. My decision to make this announcement developed as a result of an inner voice, an insight, telling me that I would be able to complete it all the way. So I set off on this journey deciding that I could handle it. Even if I keep on having my belief in this project, I know well that some of the mirrors to be sent to me might turn out to be something I will not be able to confront. If that happens, it will affect me, not the exhibition.

Interview with the artist by Derya Oyanay (ntvmsnbc.com)

"My biggest fear was that nobody would send anything"


Let's start this interview with a question now considered to have a classic dimension: Who is Hakan Akçura?

He is a contemporary artist. From this project's point of view, he is a person not contending with painting pictures even if the discipline of art he studied was painting. I also make short films, write poems, and published a book. The second book is on the way...

I think it is right for artists creating contemporary art works to contact with different disciplines, to extract their arts and creativity from such a synthesis. Furthermore, I do not make art works far from me even if they contain too many plots and plays. I just turn everything that I wonder, I'm interested in, whose theme touches me in a way within my daily life, into an art work. I am not an selectivist artist. On the contrary, I believe everybody has a potential of creativity that would surface if they are provoked, if they can provoke themselves, or they accumulate self-belief. If people establish dialogue with my art, or take steps to get to know themselves, said potential might surface; I witness this process all times..

Does your 'I Want My Mirror' project has a certain purpose or starting point?

This project has no pre-determined purpose. It is far from such words as purpose or expectation. Because it is a project which cannot be realized with estimable, foreseeable things. Because the theme of this event of art is myself. What's more, it is myself not from my own viewpoint, but from the viewpoints of all subjects who got to know me directly or indirectly in one way or another. What it calls for is not a view of a certain period of time or process that I determined in advance, but is a view of my entire life; and since I declared that I would accept everything they would send from their own viewpoints, it is a process as much interesting as hurting. It probably is the art of a place where the image of my art and creativity, which I don't want to be far from the flow of my daily life I mentioned earlier, unites with my own self. Therefore, it is an event that will bring its own definition, its own identity, depending on what will it bring, what will it become. But I can say this: it is a kind of confrontation, a kind of total confrontation. I understand it is what I called from my life. But I have no expectations such as 'What will this confrontation result in?' or 'How can the results of this confrontation be described better?' which I already determined, already paraphrased.

Does not the result of or reactions to this project, which takes too much courage, scare you? I mean it might result in something you have not expected at all?

This potential exists, of course. But the core of this project sprung to my mind in 1993. It was more like a street performance, it did not go beyond my asking to the people around me, close or far, 'Would you send me some thing had I attempted to realize it?', did not turn into a real call, for years; I never thought I would attempt to realize it one day, dating back many years. Then one day I turned to myself and felt that it was the only thing I wanted to do, that I was ready...At that time I was probably in the most motionless period of my life. In a way, the unhappiest period of my life. In another way, it was the most tranquil period of my life. Yet in another way, it was a period in which such words as strength and weakness are not much meaningful. It was a period in which I no longer used such explanations and definitions in order to find my way in real life. In other words, it was a period in which the word 'risk' was no longer used. But there definitely is a subconscious. Especially after such a life story! It also gains a power by itself from the fact that I know each and every one of the subjects of the call in question. I opened all the ways to my mirrors. Up to my answering machine... It is open to everybody, every subject who take a step in order praise me or to attack and exhibit me from the most opposite view, in the most unexpected way, in the most imaginable reflection! I can deduct from the mirrors sent to date that I think what will affect me most will be identities whom I used to think I played only a tangential role in their lives, but in reality whose lives I transformed or changed, or whose lives I played a very important role, as I might understand from their mirrors...

Is the 'I Want My Mirrors' project an event of art designed by an artist who has self-belief, self-assurance, or who hasn't?

My previous answer is valid for this question too, even in a hidden way. The word 'belief' is a definition, description too. Let me say it is an event where belief and insecurity disappear... Some definitions do not provide me with a base enabling me to question whether or not my actions are in accordance with them, to continue as long as I fall in step with them, when I look at their connotations or associations, or when I experience the processes they define. What I can say is this: On the contrary, I am where I am most diligent, where I understand how priceless to be as tranquil as this, where I see what the wordlessness or motionlessness add to me, where I believe I can live in peace. I don't know whether all these define belief or a point of zero.

How did the people around you, close or far, react to your announcement?

They reacted in many different way. Before attempting to realize this project, I described it to about 40 people who are my very close friends or those who know me, being in different categories, who in my opinion are among the subjects of the 'I Want My Mirrors' project. And I asked them to keep it a secret. To see their reactions...I wanted them to read my announcement, which I had tremendous difficulties to compose, whose final text I very hardly agreed, which I could not change anymore, to see the self-flow of that process...I wanted them to hear their comments...And reactions turned out to be very different from each other. The most common reaction was emphasizing my courage. Most of them commented that it was project they would never attempt to realize, they would never think over. Some people envied it. Especially my fellow artist friends made such comments as 'It is too enviable for me', 'I wish I could have dared to do it', 'I wish I could write such announcement'. Some of them considered it unnecessary. Some found it sick. Some found it exhibitionist. Some saw it narcissistic. Some found it media-friendly. And some other found it sensational, which was precisely the thing I wanted to avoid most, I questioned most. A psychiatrist, being a friend for the past 10-15 years, said an interesting: 'I knew one day you would expose your private world, your private life to attacks that much!' That comment made me ponder.

Why did it make you ponder?

Was this what I wanted to do? Descriptions of what I am doing are as uncertain as my uncertainty towards a very good reaction! I mean I am an animal, and call this project from my reflexes, my roots. Therefore I cannot describe this project in any way whatsoever. My destiny lies, in a way, at the stops of this process...I asked people questions I believe to be right, in order to let them answer them from their own view points. I always had to slightly define what I created so far, however I was not willing to do so. Because in this country I always had the problem of having only a few people who can act in a consistent and reasonable manner to consider such unusualness, such originality, with reference to the international world of art. But I don't have a pre-composed sentence defining the 'I Want My Mirrors' project, and where such sentence is not ready, all kinds of other sentences which might make an impact by itself turn into sentences through which I look at my project again and again, even if they not force me to give up on it. This is especially true with the mirrors sent in. Some people began to debate this project at the level where the people I used for my previous test had stood. And they make their own comments, some of them describe this project with such sentences as 'Nobody can turn into a mirror-free person unless and until he shatters the mirrors carrying the reflections of his life and then walks on those broken glass', some other debate it with statements looking like quoted from the Zen Buddhism, some other allege that one won't be able to make peace with his own self, which is a process defined as 'turning into dust' in Sufism, unless and until he passes such examination. Some others quote various books written by a number of men of letters for the purpose of self-questioning by means of composing sentences or both composing sentences and reflecting them to their own lives. All these things are a film I saw in the past. But a friend said an interesting thing, interesting because he knew me well: 'I had predicted ten years ago that one day you would do something like this.' So I wandered if I am calling for something which can be defined as an attack to my private life, by calling such event which can narrow my field of life. I'm still thinking over it. I don't know.

Is it a mirror for which you would ask 'Why?' or 'What you mean?', or are there more interesting mirrors?


It is not a mirror!.. And comments that surprised me too much as part of the initial dialogues I mentioned were not made by people who don't know me. Three or four people asked 'Do you plan to commit suicide on the exhibition opening date' at different times. I never thought that aspect. It even worried me. I even wondered if my mother would think so too. But that question did not spread, did not become common, so I relaxed. And I know many people thought my announcement, also including the story of my life, was reflecting a deep sadness. Fortunately, many other people did not think so. I kidded those who point out suicide, saying 'Yes, it would be a graceful act, but I generally like to watch my exhibitions until they are closed. It is at least a responsibility for me. So forgive me, I won't commit suicide...'

Do you think the number of mirrors sent in to date is enough? Did you enjoy the interest you expected?

Over 60 mirrors were sent in. And they continue to arrive, to flow. Some people want to use the three-month period. For example, I don't think the people who attempted to talk to me about the symbol of the mirrors they aim to send, who tried to understand what mirror I really want to receive from them, who seemed determined to act in accordance with my wishes, whom I refused to answer in spite of all their insisting, whom I replied 'It is your own journey' and left the decision-making to them, whom I replied 'If you want I'll listen to your questions, but I'll never make a comment', will be able to finish their mirrors within that time. The biggest paradox of this exhibition is that I don't want to receive mirrors which I would like to keep and store, that I'll exhibit all mirrors, i.e. all objects, letters, voices and pictures as they are, without altering them, without sorting them. To whom will I exhibit them? To tens of thousands of strangers. Or to the other mirrors. And the second paradox is that the most of the people I am calling to create a work of art never composed an artistic creation sentence, never intended to make such composition in their lives, but they are willing to send in a mirror.... When the mirrors are framed, hung to a wall, become a part of the exhibition, put on a pedestal, displayed on a monitor, or played through headphones, they will become the artists of the exhibition! So they both suffer and enjoy the situation, make preparations for it or try to unite what they are thinking over to create for years or what they attempted to create, with the content of the mirrors they would send to me, and this a long journey for them. I know because they share those processes with me... Although I never make comments at any stage of those processes, at their decision-making stage... Anyway, some of the first mirrors sent in a short time are the ones made just for getting rid of the burden of the process in question... Mirrors made just for the sake of sending an object, settling this matter... Or mirrors not being an indirect object of my life, sent by strangers who came across the e-mail message containing my announcement, who wanted to answer it. And the mirrors attacking me were made by people who were determined to attack myself or this event directly, or to everybody who considered this event a good one and decided to be a part of it. What they forget is that themselves become a part of it when they send a mirror...

What narrative style do they adapt? Do they send the mirrors by mail or e-mail?

Most of the mirrors sent in to date are letters sent by e-mail. I could browse my post box just once, but the people who should send their objects by mail need time. Two messages were left to my answering machine. We are still at the beginning stage.

Is there a particular narrative style that would move you more?

No, all of them at the same distance to me. Had you asked this question again after I received all mirrors, I would give the same answer. The things written, sent, made, drawn or told by the people who agreed to answer this call are equally distant to me...Or there is no distance between them and me. They are all in the same place, in my heart....

Let's assume the day has come, the exhibition is about to open. All mirrors are hung to the walls. You stand in the middle of the hall, looking at them. Does that moment scare you? After all, all of them is a mirror, however right or wrong they all reflect you!

First of all, I'm not sure all of them are going to reflect me. If all of them reflected me, it would have been the happiest event of my life. I love to hold exhibitions. I love to be together with people in the context of an exhibition. I run on the visitors' reactions during every exhibition. In my last exhibition, the picture I found most difficult to display, which I postponed to hang until the last minute, which I thought whether I should change more or dump", turned out to be the most appreciated and likened painting by the visitors. Those are parameters lying beyond my control. And when the issue is myself and reflections of my creativity, it becomes more complex. Shall I be visiting my own exhibition, or a mixed exhibition arranged by others? That exhibition is arranged by me, but it will contain none of my works. So I'll find myself at a place where I am as much a guest as the host...It sounds amazing...Whatever it contains... In the present the both points of the possible scale has turned to me. Some mirrors praise me, some others criticize me. And there are ones in between, but I won't be scared if any of those categories constitute a major portion of the mirrors.

What about the risk that some mirrors might reflect you in a wrong way, so that the visitors might get wrong impressions of you?

I shall neither eliminate nor change some of the mirrors. Therefore, I do not have an ethical problem with the mirrors. Because they are objects, works created by other people. I'm only human, it is obvious that some of them will move me; but I do not think that facing the risk that some mirrors might not reflect me will be an unpleasant experience.

What is your biggest fear then?

My biggest fear was that nobody would send anything.

You break new ground with this project, and it requires courage. How would you feel if somebody else repeated it in the future? Would you be proud of it, or just think you are copied?


None. In my opinion, real artists do not take pre-planned steps. They are what they are. History is what history is. The common consciousness of Man is what it is. The thing through which I experience an event of art by myself is an eye I never use to look at things from outside. An event of art is placed at a position by a person whoever he is, or determines its own position in time. Frankly, I don't know whether another artist in the world called its subjects for a confrontation as total as this, without adding his own view point. I made a research, and nobody did this as far as I know. Yes, many artists confronted a painful period of their lives from their own view points or by adding other people's view point to theirs... But I believe such confrontation cannot be realized unless I cut myself off.

Did the announcement of the project through the Internet bring a different dimension to it?

My original purpose was to publish a full-page announcement in one or more of the best-selling daily newspapers. I intended to do so twice, at the beginning and end of the project. The editors I talked to agreed, and treated me good, but their boards of directors refused. When the question is money, all editors can't help saying that if they agree my wish, it will set a trail for others to follow. On the other hand, this project needed to reach as much people as possible. It even needed to be advertised on the TV, in my opinion. Only a small portion of the nation read newspapers. And when I look at the scale of all the subjects of my life, I understand the only means that provides nation-wide communication is unfortunately the TV. So that the Internet turned out to be an obligatory starting point even if I didn't prefer it. And I began to distribute my announcement through an e-mail posting method called SPAM, which I opposed in principle. So I might say that I started with a database of e-mail addresses I obtained from the SPAM mafia. But I inserted a warning in the message: 'This is a SPAM. I know. I apologize. But I had to use it.' So I sent it to about 60,000 e-mail addresses, and some of them sent it to their friends.


Interview made with the artist by Ahmet Emre Kızılarslan (superonline.com)

"What do you think of me?"

"I'm Hakan Akçura. I want my mirrors."

Maybe you found the message above in your inbox, or saw it in the TV, or read it in a daily newspaper. Hakan Akçura is an artist, and his 'I Want My Mirrors' is an unusual event of art. Akçura makes a call to the people who became subjects of his life one way or another, directly or indirectly, through the Internet and various Media organs. He calls everybody who gave birth to him, fed him, caused him to suffer hunger, made him sleep, waked him up, loved him, not loved him, taken care of him, betrayed him, teased him, rented a house to him, sold clothes, cigarettes, beverages or their bodies to him, ordered meals for him, made a pass at him, passed balls to him, tortured him, injured him, made love to him, talked to him, shared meals or drinks with him, challenged him, made fun of him, fought him, quarreled with him, got beaten with him, suffered torture with him, made graffiti with him, handed out bills with him, didn't expect him to do this much, received letters from him, received e-mail messages from him, borrowed books from him, stole something from him, escaped from him, fed up with him, or hated him. What he wants them to do is to send an object, photograph, video cassette, audio cassette or film whose theme is him, which they would create by pointing out, telling, writing or drawing the thing they carried in their heart for him, the thing they saw when they looked at him. They don't have to reveal their identities, what is important is to send said items until 27 November 2000 which is his birth day. All those things, all those 'mirrors' will be displayed at an exhibition, so that this event of art will be realized. A huge mirror will appear...

Why one looks at the mirror?

I began to look at the mirror a very short time ago, when I began to make peace with my body. There always were mirrors in my life, but I never did much more than glimpsing at them. I think men and women exist at different levels at this point. What a man sees in the mirror is his real self, he so looks at it that he almost share a secret with his image. They make a silent agreement on what face they will not show to whom. Since I refuse this approach, I kept a distance between myself and the mirrors. I remember to have felt joyous when I found myself looking at a mirror, wanting to find myself beautiful, wanting to see myself from my own inner eye to guess what part of me will be appreciated by the lookers, assigning a lover's eye to the mirror, 5 or 5 years ago.

Like your discovery of looking at the mirror, does your search of your 'mirrors' correspond to a threshold in your life?


Exactly. But they are two different thresholds. I developed the idea of this project in 1992, it was the most mirror-free period of my life, when I most savagely attacked myself, when I was most lonesome, when the beast inside me ruled me most, when I passed through a dense unhappiness. It was also a period when I sought to reach the balance of freedom of letting my mind be confused as much I as would want to after an intermediate period during which I hadn't want my mind to be confused was over. I remember I told this project a few people I loved you too much, and a few people standing around me but whom I did not want to see, and all of them were perplexed, but again all of them agreed.


Why did you wait until 1992?

I focused on it every now and then. Now I understand all those periods had a common point: a dense cloud of unhappiness covering everything... It is even denser today. I am passing through the most tranquil, the most deserted period of my life, where I can say now I know everything.


As an artist enjoying to play games and to create 'art games', don't you think this time it is a somewhat dangerous game?

It was a game which I could be expected to play in 1992, not now. I never used my mind for it. I think it stems from the facts that I am in search of a kind of genuineness, that an inner voice keeps on warning me to be cautious, that this project faces the risk of being considered media-friendly and sensational because of its obligatory umbilical cord with the Media.


How much the overall mirrors resemble Hakan Akçura?


I shelved all my expectations, all my deduction from this project. One has to be excited even to say 'I want to see my reflections as much as I can, taking all risks, within this event of art which I attempted to realize to be able to see my real reflections from the people'. I am not unexcited. So far 20 mirrors were sent in, and I enjoyed each of them as if I was given a present. I am not sure if it was my purpose, but I feel good to observe that this project provides some energy that can move me. I am cautious, on a journey where I don't know if I'm as strong as I think. It is an incredibly self-centered project, but there is always the possibility that none of the mirrors might reflect me. I depend on the assumption that the mirrors to be sent to me will adapt a new identity when they are exhibited to other people.


Is this new identity not likely to reduce genuineness?


I think there is such risk for mirrors reflecting feelings other than dense affection or dense hatred...Such risk definitely exists at every stage. But they will not be merely reflections, because the people who make the mirrors will be present in them too. Mirrors might not contain me, but they will definitely contain their creators.


You yourself admit that it is a self-centered project, so expecting the people whose lives intersected with yours in one way or another to provide such a subjective contribution is a kind of fait accompli, isn't it?

No, I just call them to contribute, it's up to them whether or not to do it. They would contribute or not, deceive me or other people or not. This is a personal journey.


Then the process itself contributes mirrors too.

Yes, but that's not my purpose. My worry that this project might be considered sensational and media-friendly stems from the presence of people who don't know me, who are outside that core. Since I'm the first person who attempted to make such confrontation as far as I know, this project has another aspect matching with my artistic direction in its entirety: I invite all my direct or indirect subjects to be an artist. It is my exhibition, but everything will be made by the others. This aspect is the only prank, only game of the project.


You might have shelved all expectations, taken all risks, concerning the outcome of this project. But can you undertake the risks, disillusionment or astonishment to be faced by each and every subject, that emotional price? For example, what is your mother going to feel when she sees a mirror sent by your boss, lover or torturer?

I know I'll do everything to undertake all relevant burdens. Nearly all of the first thirty people to whom I described this project reacted in the same way, asking 'What do you plan, to commit suicide after the exhibition?' And the moment I noticed this project could make some people ask that question to me, a special feeling developed towards my relationship with my mother. I do not intend to commit suicide, and I don't want my mother to get such impression even in the slightest. She will not see the mirrors until the exhibition opens, like every won't, but she'll step in the exhibition hall with more curiosity than all the others. And until that time she will have found strength to confront them as much as I could, or I will have done everything I can to help her to do so.


Your mother is the most apparent, most protectable subject here...

And the only subject whose mirror I'm not curious about, the only subject whose existence did not make me yearn for a mirror.


Then it will be the most unexpected mirrors that will excite you?

I think so. One cannot help thinking over and over. Of the twenty mirrors sent so far, the one that surprised me most was sent by a person whose life I thought to have been a tangent to mine, because the mirror proved otherwise. I could have found it very tiring, but I did not.


How many people will your announcement reach, in what ways?


To date e-mailed the announcement to 60,000 addresses in Turkey, asking them to e-mail it to their friends. So that it will remind me to the people who forgot me, and reach those who read me or saw me but whose whereabouts are unknown to me, even those who don't know me but might want to send a mirror after reading it. I want the core to cover outside of mirrors too.


Was it because of your concern to skip some people?

Exactly. If I could have this announcement published in a best-selling newspaper, I wouldn't have employed the e-mail method. In fact the most direct way to reach my core people, my direct subjects, 30,000 to 40,000 people was the TV and newspaper. But since I had to send e-mail messages in bulk, an external ring gained significance whether I liked it or not. Those who are not direct subjects of my life, but who saw the announcement and asked me whether they could send their mirrors, or who sent their mirrors without bothering to ask me. Now they are important too. Furthermore, I shall reach a number of international art houses and publications thanks to the English text of the announcement. In addition, now I am having flyers and posters printed which I'll send to all places where I lived in Izmir (where I come from) and Istanbul.


Does aftermath of this exhibition points out a new threshold in your life?

This project is the fruit of a period for which I don't have a description, so I don't have an answer for your question!


Interview made with the artist by Pınar Öğünç (chivi.com)

Unnecessariness and mirrors...

I never knew how was I accustomed to writing articles for Kekeme (Stutter), how would I suffer withdrawal symptoms if I didn't write. During an obligatory period of rest, I felt it too much. And the fact that my inner eye started to stutter while observing some events, some developments and what happen around them showed that said feeling turned into a reflex. In the meantime I skipped so many articles that I didn't know how to start this new period with Paralax.

This is the 55th anniversary of the atom bombing of Nagasaki, August 9. Yesterday a television channel interviewed me; while we were talking about my announcement entitled 'I Want My Mirrors', which you would see in the following pages, one thing led to another so I found myself saying that my hopelessness and pessimism on the future of this planet Earth continued, and that the Internet's significance as the most equal and democratic platform of communication would increase if it could preserve its original form and quality. Tomorrow I will be interviewed live on NTV, and I am curious to learn how many of the thirty or forty thousand direct subjects of my life will watch it at 8:15 in the morning.. I'm also curious how many mirrors will be sent to me until the end of November, how many subjects will not send a mirror despite they already read my announcement...A friend asked a few days ago if I enraged people so much so that some of them would dare to send a bomb to my post office box. I answered I didn't know. Are terrorists courageous?

In answering the questions asked by Ragıp Duran and Ilke Şanlıer, Noam Chomsky says (Virgül magazine, June 2000): "...Turkey managed to suppress the resistance within its territory in 1999. Therefore, it does not need to import weapons from the USA to commit mass murder, to destroy villages anymore. On the other hand, Colombia could not manage to suppress its rebels despite the fact that the USA has been training and arming the Colombian army and allowing the latter to use those weapons against its own people since 1960, before the fight against illegal drugs started. Now the rebellion grew to larger proportions, and the Colombian army is unable to suppress it. Therefore, the USA increases the weapons and training services it has been providing with Colombia. In a few days, the Congress will increase that support more and more. Thus Colombia will outrun Turkey and rank the biggest importer of U.S. weapons, because unlike Turkey, Colombia couldn't manage to suppress its local rebels."

Even some of the people closest to me commented my announcement and event of art entitled 'I Want My Mirrors' was unnecessary, pointing out to my narcissism/exhibitionism. I didn't contend with the fact that the remaining majority of them did not agree with that negative comment, so I thought over it. I think what confuses their mind is that my project is very personal. It seems that I took a step so self-centered that their tolerance-based comments towards the people who provided bases for various periods of their lives might not be applicable for me. My affection and non-affection towards myself, quality and non-quality of things peculiar to me, and the definitions we developed for the affairs of life are all based on understandable reasons, so the way I am can be defined as that my courage and fear stand at equal distances from me...

Many years ago, I had turned my eyes on a certain decision-making process of a woman who was and will always be very special for me. After having experienced many things for a long, very long time, she wanted to look at everything and everybody -which and who she might have left behind now- with eyes as clear as possible, and emphasized just one value for the steps she would take: "I must be fair. Towards everybody and everything! Before I set off on a journey with new choices..."

In my opinion it was impossible to do so. No, I did not oppose her idea because I lacked the notion of fairness. I just thought where there was choice, it was impossible to act fair...That witnessing and opinion led me to a project that never proceeded beyond the conception stage. I placed that woman in the middle of a room filled with transparent forms symbolizing hundreds of objects and subjects, having a closed window and a closed door. She was transparent too, but our eyes could notice her reflections refracted behind those layers of transparent forms because of the edge lines which I somehow painted in orange.... Arrows were flowing from each and every object and subject surrounding her, which that woman who wanted to be fair with clear eyes, and I had inscribed some sayings on the tablets (also transparent) standing where the arrows stopped. So I was assigning some definitions, positions and situations to those objects and subjects by taking into consideration that woman's existence -as I knew it-, her aim of fairness...In order to provide the people, who I thought would stand around that room which I thought I would be able to realize and exhibit, with a choice which I thought they would read and understand, I was emphasizing the same value: I must have been fair towards everybody and everything! When that woman called at a choice where fairness is impossible!

In my opinion, a dark, deep and irregular pathway lies between this project, whose theme is not me, for which nobody, even those who were close to me thought to define as 'unnecessary and narcissistic' and the 'I Want My Mirrors' project.

However, there is not even a single choice which I am about to call at. I am at a point of zero where I had selected everything I could select, where I had made peace with every other thing I could not select but I could not give up on, in spite of all tiredness and unhappiness arising from that failure. Was I fair enough? I don't know; if I was, I could have only been adequately fair, under the shadow of this question.

What does it mean? What does it call from life? If I knew the answers to these questions, would I have wanted my mirrors? Believe me, I don't know the answer to even this last question, while I am perhaps wasting your time with my unnecessariness.

Radiation seeps through our ears and façade walls of our houses into our brains now. Nagasaki cries for what happened 55 years ago. Every day every TV channel shows the 'changing southeast region' of Turkey; somehow every image has a general caressing the hair of a little Kurdish girl. Half of the Colombian people rebel against the government. And I am watching with astonishment 5000 thousand audience members packing Açıkhava Theater in Istanbul, listening to Buena Vista Social Club's concert, singing their songs together with them by heart, and waiting my 'mirrors' to arrive with the tranquility of sensing I am doing the most political thing of my life.!

I am welcome.

Hakan Akçura
(Article by the artist, published in "Görsel Kültür Arşivi" ParalaX on 9.8.2000)

The transforming power of 'the spirit of time'

These are the days when I write the most, read the most, on the process, pain and form of creativity. I mean I am writing letters, reading letters...I have tens of people before me, whom I correspond generally in the electronic medium. And the things they tried to create, thought over, felt pain for, reached for are the 'mirrors' they would send to me. Furthermore, some of those correspondences are with people for whom I decided to act as audience only, to whom I informed that I was leaving them alone on their journey. But most of them never give up. They start with "Alright, but listen to me anyway..." and keep on telling their thrills which they never experienced in the past, which they never intended to experience. I sense that some of them will not turn their thrill into an object/mirror, or if they do, they will not like that thing/mirror.

Now that 'I Want My Mirrors' has become an event whose process itself is as much important as its exhibition. Thus now I plan to include some of said correspondences in the exhibition catalogue, naturally by obtaining a prior consent from their writers.

A number of factors arising from the correspondences seem to open a door to new debatable suggestions. Here they are:

The dominant definition of artistic creativity continues to be a selectivist definition for the people who chose a way of life outside artistic creativity. They consider artistic creativity to be a work of a natural talent, even genius, and the latter to be an observable/recognizable process appearing at the early stages of life. In their opinion artistic creativity is not a feasible personal journey which can be aimed and learned.

For the people who chose a way of life outside artistic creativity, the cultural-artistic events, observations and witnessing in which they are interested as a sideline in addition to the professions they selected or agreed to do, are the one and only artistic activity they think they are entitled to be interested in.

For the people who chose a way of life outside artistic creativity, their limited activities involving traditional, decorative or -almost in spite of themselves- spontaneous creativity can only be defined with just one word: hobby! The only common aspect of those people who keep a diary, who write their travel impressions, reviews on events of art, who compose poems or songs, play an instrument or paint pictures is their pre-fabricated belief that their activities is not artistic in terms of content or form...

The web sites focusing on literature, culture and arts apply lower selection barriers thanks to their independence from the rules, hierarchy and financial problems of the printed periodicals in this country, so that they rank as the first and fastest address for the people who chose a way of life outside artistic creativity. Noticing this new and unexpected opportunity, said people review what they wrote and painted in order to make them less amateurish, and set their production (creation) standards higher for their future output.

For the people who chose a way of life outside artistic creativity, every effort made by the others to show, teach, notify, point out and provoke the creative potential existing in their mind is an enjoyable but hopeless effort. In their opinion, the subjects of said effort are real artists who don't forget them (or who don't forget where they came from)!.. And the above mentioned efforts by said real artists are humble but ill-defined mentions presented to them who are not artists at all...

Some of the people who chose a way of life outside artistic creativity have their artistic creativity sentences or steps extinguished, prevented or destroyed, or they had to quit said steps when faced with reality, at one time or another in their life. And they need an answer to the question if they are too late to continue their artistic creativity, but it is unknown who will give that answer.

For the people who chose a way of life outside artistic creativity, every call from a subject who presents as a creative ground not the well-known and popular references of traditional and contemporary arts, but the 'spirit of time' is a confusing and curious call. For them every creative ground remaining supra-disciplinary, interdisciplinary, mischievous, containing the ordinariness of daily life is a field of expression where they can express their experiences, views and knowledge at a level they never hoped for. The ground in question has a quality enabling them to debate the existence for artistic creativity, which they had thought over and refused, again, and they have no pre-fabricated answers in said debate. The more the ground of debate stimulate them, the more they ask questions!

What's more, the definition of a higher problem concerning the superiority and originality of the quality of artistic creativity might lead the people who chose a way of life outside artistic creativity to spend efforts for a meaning and purpose which they can define as creativity now thanks to the peace of mind they enjoy by excluding themselves from said definition. Furthermore, they notice during those journeys of yours that their non-artistic experiences are so rich that they are efficient resources for that they attempt to do.

My dialogue with the subjects having the above mentioned subjects is continuing, and will continue. And the changing, transforming and evolving nature of each of those subjects, arising from their inability to continue to use their old and familiar definitions about their existence continues to make me happy...

Hakan Akçura
(Article by the artist, published in "Görsel Kültür Arşivi" ParalaX on 16.09.2000)

Log of an artist


From Veritas Omnia Vincit exhibition:
Difficult sleep, Acrylic on canvas, 238 x 82 cm.
Hakan Akçura, 2001

When Beral Madra invited me months ago to the labyrinth exhibition entitled 'Veritas Omnia Vincit' (reality overcomes everything), which he produced as part of the 'Human Rights 2000' event organized by 60 different non-governmental organizations led by SODEV, I hadn't the faintest idea how much trouble it would have caused for me.

The term 'labyrinth exhibition' referred to the fact that 24 artists would occupy sections of a labyrinth to be set up by means of panels in TÜYAP hall in Istanbul, and invite the visitors to a 'labyrinth for looking for the truth'. The exhibition would have lasted three days, and it was just the icing of the cake that all artists would have found the opportunity to talk to the visitors for one hour every day in the middle of the labyrinth...

It would have been so, but I didn't know how much trouble it would have cost me.

At the beginning, I made preparations for said exhibition as one of the tens of thousands of people who had been taken under custody, interrogated, tortured, arrested, tried and convicted because of their crimes of conscience in this country...

First of all, I planned a performance in which I would use my body; I would lean my fingers against the labyrinth's walls. As familiar to those in the know, the police make you stand against a wall between interrogation sessions. You are naked or semi-naked, your eyes blindfolded, your legs apart at an angle of 45 degrees, your body leaning forward, your whole weight resting on your toes, and one of your feet is in the air... I don't know the nickname given to that salty liquid in other cities, but in my native Izmir it was called "sugar bomb" with devastating irony, the police made you drink it before hanging a sign on your neck reading "no food, no water, no toilet". We stood against that wall for hours and days, except for inevitable falls or faints, resisting against those who did best to break our resistance as much as we could. Those who could play chess blindfolded, and those who came across the shift of 'good cops' permitting them to change their feet were considered lucky. Those who came across the shift of 'bad cops' who decided to gain more experience on bastinadoing their feet in the air were considered unlucky.

That was it, I would have stand up with my eyes blindfolded, wearing only underpants, in order to present the visitors with the visual effect of the above mentioned punishment which the other complicated torture methods made look relatively innocent.

However, since I assigned myself to object every scene, every plan reproducing a torture method even if it has been set up as part of a dramatic or cinematic work for the sake of protest, I asked first myself, then other people, whether I will have been making such reproduction. They answered 'Yes, you will', adding that it would be a striking event, provoke the visitors to interrupt it, contain deeply hidden wishes, startle the visitors, and it might be an irresistible call for those who had undergone a similar experience. I gave up.

Then I thought to pay a visit to Beyoğlu Police Station, talk to the police chief, and make him a suggestion. I thought to say "I was a so and so person, but now I'm an artist. This event of art will be held, an exhibition will be arranged as part of it, and I will exhibit some of my works there. Given that the people are still reacting against and scared of the police stations, and given that said event's main theme is human rights, let's cooperate. Let's set up a camera in neither your office, nor your interrogation rooms, nor your custody cells, but in your application room, where people come to file official complaints, where I was an applicant a few weeks ago after having argued with a neighbor. Let's ensure that camera to transmit what happens there live to the labyrinth. All you have to do is to warn your officers to act carefully, and it will transmit image only, not audio, anyway. We can also set up another camera in the labyrinth to capture the images of the visitors watching your images and feed them to your monitor, so that you can watch them while they watch you... Do you agree, chief?"


Naturally I didn't so, because my friends said "Hey, what do you think the police stations are? Do you think their chiefs are authorized to accept or refuse such suggestion? No, it will be submitted to the Minister of Interior Affairs, no less, wait there one and a half months before it is refused." In fact I am still suspicious how could they be so sure about the outcome which I could not predict, but everybody said so, so I had to give up. I hope maybe some day I or somebody else would try it. It seemed a good project after all...

Then I began to surf the Internet, visiting about two thousand sites concerning torture, ranging from the USA to Canada, Chili to Guatemala, Nigeria to Tibet and Turkey. I read many documents, statements and indictments, saw many pictures some of which even I could not stomach. It would not be a lie if I say I didn't know what I was looking for. Then I hooked on a page containing a number of pictures drawn by a Chilean painter, depicting several torture methods. One of those pictures depicted a victim lying on a bedstead made of wire, electrocuted by total five torturers each of whom performing a separate task using a separate device, and contained the relevant explanation. It was a very well-known scene for me. I wanted to hang a digitally blown-up reproduction of that picture on one of the labyrinth walls. It would require to set up a circular panel to ensure the right perspective. I could have ask Beral Madra to supply such panel. Then all I had to do was to display a potential where everybody could play the role they would choose, including the victim! Thus the players could have themselves photographed there, and used the photograph as a souvenir from Istanbul or Turkey or 'Human Rights 2000' or December 10, 2000. I was somehow sure some people would have wanted to pose there.

But then I asked to myself 'Is it a theme too much by half? Is its irony unfair? Is it grotesque?" so many times that both my heart and intention dried up!

While I still had that wish and intention in my mind, and while I sat where I devised this plan, i.e. at my computer, a picture of mine hanging on the right wall of my room reminded me of itself. And the 'I Want My Mirrors' project that I was preparing for the last three months...

That event I planned was really an effort to search the truth. (An artist friend of mine, whom I loved so much, got angry with me because I called it 'unusual'. I thought over it a long time, and concluded that he might be right. Although I aim to make an announcement which people can notice, read, find and select, calling it 'unusual' implies the hidden presence of the adjective 'usual', so he is right. Carrying the announcement of this event (and the whole of the thing I created) was a solution available to me, so that it was not wrong.


At this point you might ask what the hell was that picture on my wall. It is entitled 'Zor Uyku' (Difficult Sleep). An acrylic painting on a large canvas. The times I had painted it this summer and the painting appearing as a result brought a power and meaning which enabled me to survive many potholes that I fell into while I designed the 'I Want My Mirrors' project. ". Without shame, I described it as most beautiful picture I've ever painted to some people somewhere. (Did I mention it ParalaX?). That picture was a mirror I made for myself, depicting a transversal body in an abstract space and its head beside a mirror. A single body interpreted as two bodies by some people, a body interpreted as female by some people or male by some other, a body interpreted to undergo immense pain by some, or to enjoy peace of mind by some other...Who could stop me displaying my announcement on a wall of the corridor assigned to me in the labyrinth, and hanging the 'Zor Uyku' on the opposite wall!

I am determined to exhibit both of them.


I am sure my ego, which will not be able to feel it has done what it must do before having blood on its hands, while having blood on its hands and after committing that murder, wants neither to startle the people, nor to impress the people with the strike of a surprise coincidence, nor to act ironic! It wants to confess it can hardly sleep.

It will look for the mirrors of this country!

Because I am deeply grieved thinking that one of them might die tonight, tomorrow night, Thursday night, or the exhibition opening night, while we enjoy our drinks and gossip, chatting with the visitors, or after the exhibition is closed! What if one, two, three or ten of them die, them prisoners who are on hunger strike?!

Let's do not deceive ourselves... We all know that after a number of prisoners die, the government will start making negotiations only for a show, and many of us will forget everything until the next hunger strike and tortures begin!

If this is death, helplessness, if we are all on the verge of a bloodbath again in this country, then is not what we call TRUTH just our INABILITY TO OVERCOME THE NEW MURDERS, LET ALONE THE PREVIOUS MURDERS?
Hakan Akçura
(Article by the artist, published in "Görsel Kültür Arşivi" ParalaX on 07.12.2000)

From Veritas Omnia Vincit exhibition:
A manipulated art event announcement, Hakan Akçura

(103,5x72 cm.; mix media on photoblock; 2000)