“Untitled’ 2003:Towards an Understanding of Ephemera in Action” , Eser Selen
Zeren’s works communicate us through a distance in-between life and death. Nevertheless through this distance a channel forms with symbols and meanings to lead the viewer into certain possibilities of participating the artwork. The ways in which she uses “her” materials enlivens deliberate dialogues between the artwork and the spectator. Her work also gives an opportunity to rethink the spectator’s status before an artwork: A status which might be engulfed in the always already (mis)taken for granted ideas of life~death and the living and the dead. Her insistence in using “natural” materials such as a solid rock of salt, raw wood, etc. is a way of acknowledging the limitlessness of nature. The experience of “Untitled” becomes a measure of experiencing nature culturally in which the culture derives form within.
Zeren’s recent work “Untitled” 2003, releases similar affects as the work changes, mutilates, and distinciates form the initial set-up. One of the most significant aspects of this work is the idea of tracing nature from cultural specificities in relation to time, space and meaning. Therefore, the process of the work comes forward—naked and raw—and proposes a performance in space and time. The work becomes a living entity from within the idea of death. Two different coffins are installed in two adjacent rooms of the Turkish bath that are in identical in size and shape. Spatially the “authentic” Turkish bath welcomes the spectator into a calming and soothing place. It is also a place to purify from the body’s dirt materially. Practically in a Turkish bath, the skin is rubbed until all the dead particles fall out. The new skin is born underneath with a purified and clean envelope.
The coffin that is carved out of a solid rock of salt remains silent; it releases some practices of life that deals with purification and cleanness as if it is a sculpture from tears. Therefore, the spatial significance allows us to consider all dirt, all sweat, and all salt have been shed and subsequently compiled within the limits of a performance where the salty coffin performs. Salt as a material enforces various significances in diverse cultures. Unlikely to its most common use, preservation, and here salt seems to be the ephemera to underline the temporality, instability, and flux of life. Whereas the other coffin that is covered with staples, cries for its body which was struck down dead.
In addition to these quasi-toxic appearances of these coffins, the installation flips its spectator out with the amplified sound of the act of stapling. The installation’s soundscape could recall violence to which any body may be subjected: A recorded sound of a repetitive act of stapling on wood with a staple gun. One after another one hears every stapled metals’ resonance together with the industrial sound of the gun. Here the sound as a medium initiates the performance of grief. The coffin cries not only for its body but also for the permanency of grief that releases repetition and a sense of compulsion. However, the hand that staples the wood is absent; a remains, it is in the recorded sound of fear attached to the phantasmatical body. The recorded sound of action at least evokes some significations to understand this installation and supports phantasmatical dimension of “Untitled” 2003 that lays in-between life and death.