Istanbul Artist Collective
Jan 27, 2019 10:48PM

From Tangent Series | Haydarpaşa| I145cmx220cm

Being tangent… Dictionary meaning is to “pass close to something, entreating a matter superficially”. Seydi Murat Koç has formed Tangent series with exactly this meaning of the word. Being tangent is a form of touching or brushing. It is a concept that can even be applied to life; as can be seen in Can Yücel’s poem, “Bağlanmayacaksın (You Shouldn’t Cling On)”. Or it can be used as a metaphor for economy, borrowed from geometry, as used by the Turkish Prime Minister about the last global economic crisis. Even though being tangent meant “a line that passes near a curve and meeting it only in a “single” point” mathematically, the last economic crisis had been felt in Turkey quite deeply. We can leave this for another text about politics, and look at Seydi Murat Koç’s Tangent series of multiple meaning.

From Tangent Series | No:5 | 150x100cm

From Tangent Series | No:7 | 220x145cm

From Tangent Series | Bern Museum | 220x145cm

Without forgetting the principle that “every whole is bigger than the pieces it consists”, let’s continue with an image of Ataturk Cultural Centre (AKM) and the warplane floating above it in Seydi Murat Koç’s Tangent series. First of all, the relationship that Seydi Murat Koç has established with architecture should be mentioned. The artist dwells upon symbolic architectural structures in this series, and AKM is one of them. AKM is a symbol of the history of Turkish Republic, and the fuss about it to be demolished or not arise from this state of being a symbol. AKM’s foundation is laid in 1946, its construction continued in 1956 by architect Hayati Tabanlıoğlu’s project, and it come into use in 1969, as the Istanbul House of Culture. Readers would know the further processes, no need to repeat. On the other hand, World Trade Center in New York has been built three years after AKM. The structure which has world’s tallest twin towers have changed the face of Manhattan at first, and they collapsed on September 11, 2001. As a result of the terrorist attack by Al Qaeda, two out of four airliners have crashed into WTC towers; because of this attack, 2,794 people lost their lives. As an iconic building, WTC has been subjected to many films, and it has come to its end with this attack.

Now, let’s get back to Seydi Murat Koç’s work centered on AKM; there’s a warplane floating towards AKM. It is almost like that it is about to crash (just like the attacks on WTC), but if we remind ourselves of the series, it will be “tangent” – we do not know it yet. Seydi Murat Koç reveals a state of in-between, and reminds the viewer someone he shares his surname with: former secretary of culture, Atilla Koç, who was crowned as the “sleeping beauty” by one of the Ekşi Sözlük users, montajelemani; declared that they would not demolish AKM, but reconstruct it, and he said “AKM was burned down by communists in 1970” – despite the fact that it burned because of electric contact. Now, it is possible to see that, as a symbolic building, AKM is subjected to arguments by various ideological approaches, while avoiding producing rhetoric. Seydi Murat Koç’s success can be seen here, he places architecture in the middle – if architecture is an art production form which has the codes that the politics can be read most explicitly – and as he moves from art, he discusses the relationships between ideology, politics and culture, and from there, the emerging problems. If we listen to Cem Erciyes, there is “neither the sound of violin, nor the hammer” in AKM nowadays.

Historical Haydarpaşa Terminal started burning on November 28, 2010, at 15:00, and its historical roof has completely destroyed. This fire becomes subject to Seydi Murat Koç’s another representation of “tangent”. There is no harm for it to be, because, if art can serve the purpose of conveying a social memory, this fire will never be forgotten. This time, Seydi Murat Koç calls out the role of reversing the deeds of the power focus, because it is a “fire fighting aircraft” flying over Haydarpaşa Terminal. Thus, the masterfully used “irony” is realized, concerning the fire. The rest should be evaluated by the posterity, for it is still early for the contradictions to be analyzed with clarity.

Apart from that, the existence of Test Broadcasts, transmits a deed of “rectifying” to the viewer about the idea that urban transformation would never end. The ever continuing transformation brings such a construction that the hammer noises could be heard at any given time since the foundation of Constantinople. With this series, Seydi Murat Koç made his viewers to be in a state of standing on a threshold. People of this geography are used to be torn between two points, like, liberalism and etatism or east and west. The artist brings iconic images on a canvas with a realist approach, and offers us clues of states of being – or, let’s say probabilities of being – of not a syntagmatic, but a new paradigamatic change. The compositions in Tangent series, gives footnotes to the viewer in direction of a necessary recursive reading of recent period.

Architecture… It is sometimes read as it is only identified with the function by the ignorant/uneducated power focuses. These power focuses do not pay attention to social memory while doing this. However, the rules of preservation claim the opposite universally, and some buildings need to continue their existence with their functions that have become part of their identities. I do not know if I got involved with politics too much, but this is Seydi Murat Koç’s doing, not mine.


Istanbul Artist Collective