Artistic creation is generally a solitary process for artists. It’s a period during which most artists isolate themselves to conduct in-depth research and reading on a certain topic; to create and destroy only to rebuild again; and to think, try, and repeat, a process accompanied by all kinds of joy and frustration. This is such a painful process that solitude is both a necessity and the biggest punishment.
Throughout the history of art, the moments in which this melancholic loneliness is ruptured for the audience are the letters artists write to other artists, their families, acquaintances, or friends which have been made public. Sometimes, these letters go well beyond our inferences based on their works and open wonderful windows into their inner worlds. They also serve as a document to provide prominent data for art history and researchers, enabling a true flow in historiography. Letters are not, of course, one-sided. Throughout the history of art, one can frequently see artists who transform their correspondence into a creative process. Such amicable correspondence involuntarily multiplies the reader’s satisfaction when it’s especially between two painters, sculptors, authors, architects, philosophers, and poets. One can also see these couplings become gradually encouraged by the intellectual harmony stemming from company or any kind of fervency born of contrasts. Besides, it’s also within the realm of possibility to see these letters of companionship transform into an exhibition, a book, a portrait, or an important public space project once they are taken out of their envelope and made public. Although letters have long lost their validity along with the romantic expression they contain, the need to share is always present, since the only thing that changes is the course and the form.
DIFFERENT FORMS OF EXPRESSION
Then, one wonders, how can artists quench their solitude in both intellectual and artistic context following this transformation of medium? I believe collectives to be one important factor in that they gather forms of production and thoughts in the art scene. Although they embrace different causes, the capital-driven perspective of the art market is the unalienable reason behind the creation and increasing the number of collectives. Today, artistic creators realize their forms of expression through various means and, while doing that, benefit from polyphony. Melancholic solitude became first a mutual companionship and then an organized sharing. Mutual ties have been replaced with crowded solidarity. Such establishments may look distant from the concept of friendship; however, they emerge as the new and only path of salvation recognized by the entire world. In fact, they can also be regarded as the most realistic and revolutionary method to focus on global changes and problems. An organization that prioritizes plurality over individuality and comprises not only the center but also the periphery begins to take control. On the other hand, the ease of unification thanks to the power of means of communications and the mobility of social media channels, should not be overlooked. One thing is clear: Today, people learn about each other in a direct and faster way.
Upon reading the letters exchanged between Abidin Dino and Fikret Mualla, one can see that they not only shared their artistic viewpoints but also what troubled them about life. It’s hard to believe that such heated friendships that borderline on poignant can still exist. It’s also becoming harder to see companionship born from an almost childish excitement of transcendental groups as demonstrated by Hugo Ball and his circle of friends, who got together at Cabaret Voltaire in Paris and led to the emergence of Dadaism. All this can be explained by the fact that emotions have distanced themselves from individuality or that global problems have silenced emotions. Therefore, the artists’ motivation to be together pursue a more scientific form striving to embrace everyone through an academic narrative, rather than being based on feeling or experiences. In short, a collective awareness is taking shape.
The medium used in almost all branches of art show a tendency of transitivity, which in turn increases the need for new ways of expression. In this context, collective productions offer a new configuration, which feeds the quest for new languages and means, and embrace people from a number of disciplines. In fact, artists enrich their opportunities whereby they transfer their disciplines among each other by collaborating with biologists, software developers, sociologists, and ecologists in addition to individuals from other branches of art. Thus, they ignite activities that focus on learning and awareness. At the same time, production is not reduced to a process anymore; on the contrary, it becomes this active, living, participating, and inclusive organism. In brief, from today’s perspective, collectives have many benefits.
In a way, collectives provide a platform for cooperation in addition to opening new doors for companionship, which I mentioned above and has been embedded in the art world. We also see more and more new structures that don’t have a collective base but care about being together and believe that creating a support mechanism will make a difference. Omuz, which took shape throughout the pandemic, was founded as a network of solidarity and exchange for those in the culture and arts industry. Aiming to financially support all art workers in the field of visual arts, Omuz brought together those who were looking for support and those who wished to offer it. During our interview, the volunteers of the platform underlined the sense of solidarity born from gratuitous support. They also added that they aim to turn Omuz into a network that shares other resources besides meeting financial needs. The resources in question can mean basic necessities such as food, insurance, and job advertisements, as well as art supplies and reference books. In addition to initiating an anonymous and democratic system that prioritizes intentions over names, the organization also has the advantage of bringing art enthusiasts together with artists and creating awareness. When I asked them about how the support mechanism can be diversified in the future, they said they were planning to clarify certain concepts and unsettled terminology by asking questions such as “Why should there be an artist’s pay?” or “What does it mean to be an art worker?” They stated that they wish to attract attention to the invisible labor force in the art scene. I see such calls as an open letter addressed to the art world. Today, the romantic letters of the new age that quench one’s solitude I mentioned in the beginning have been revised by the activist and pro-change communities.
One can easily see the surprising challenges of the new world in the pandemic’s wide area of influence. On the other hand, I believe dynamic art networks are important structures in finding the strength to overcome these challenges. We can regard such establishments as a helping hand, which can offer more than a letter by protecting all art workers and eliminating their sense of solitude.
T. Melis Golar
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