Özkaya believes that the installation also acts as a sort of camera obscura, an early photographic tool in which an image is projected through a tiny hole onto the opposite wall of a darkened space (which could range in size from a small box to an entire room). “Étant donnés,” Ozkaya explained, “could actually be a machine for projection.”
At this point, he’d never actually seen the work in person, although he’d long been a fan of Duchamp’s oeuvre writ large. Growing up in Turkey in the 1980s and ’90s, the artist said, there were “no real museums around. So Duchamp’s work was very inspiring to us because you would see a picture or a Xerox copy or even hear about it and understand the work fully. You didn’t have to be there in the room with the so-called original.”
But Étant donnés, he noted, “is totally different. With this you really have to be there and look at it.” So he made the trek to Philadelphia, pressing his face against the antique wooden doors to see Duchamp’s handiwork firsthand. That initial visit, he said, seemed promising—the lighting inside was bright, and the peepholes were small enough to potentially function as a camera obscura.