In the studio: Interview with Ergin Çavuşoğlu discussing his work inspired by Marcel Duchamp

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Following his recent launch on Sedition, we caught up with Ergin Çavuşoğlu who talked us through his latest artworks, his interest in Marcel Duchamp, and his meticulous creative process.

Could you tell us a little more about the pieces you have created for Sedition?

I created specifically for Sedition three video pieces entitled One Hundred Thousand Balls, Joker Shuffle and Bubble Dart, all (2013). All three works convey ideas influenced by and comment on Marcel Duchamp’s ironic certificate called the Monte Carlo Bond or Obligation pour la Roulette de Monte Carlo, which he issued in 1924. For instance One Hundred Thousand Balls reflects on the Company Statutes document, which Duchamp used to advisedly legitimise his illicit bonds. Bubble Dart on the other hand substitutes with a dartboard the roulette wheel onto which his photograph taken by Man Ray is superimposed, thus making him a target. Moreover Joker Shuffle visually and contextually interprets his portrait with hair covered in foam and shaped into pointed horns, and so on and so forth.

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Ergin Çavuşoğlu’s studio in Camden, London

Can you tell us about your creative process when approaching making new works?

My approach to art making is that it is foremost a scholarly activity and my creative process frequently involves distilling complex visual and textual information and contextual materials that all somehow have hypothetical relevance to the perceived systems of art. Interestingly the visual manifestation of an artwork is the last element I consider in the course of developing an idea. For example this particular body of works begun a while ago with a concept, which I will outline below in the very abstract and incoherent format entered in my notebook:

“Artists indexed market value of currencies. Each country will be rated according to the calibre of artists it produces and their place in the stock market. Rather elitist results predicted. Artists determined market value is the only real value as it is abstract and unsolicited…” (20 August 2012)

Another statement I wrote in my notebook on 17 June 2012 declares that:

“The most creative times are when you are not making artworks, but thinking about them. The making of art devoids of creativity.”

In an essence I first map out and test the concept, content, and context of the project over a prolonged period before I launch into making. Although I am better known for the large-scale spatial video installations, my practice is grounded in classical understanding of art, both in the making and the thinking. Therefore I will approach each concept with the medium it necessitates rather then being driven by so called signature style and medium specificity.

What inspired you to use Duchamp’s Monte Carlo Bond as a reference point for your digital editions on Sedition?

Possibly the most important aspect of Duchamp’s practice for me is the layering of contexts and the engagement with the intellectual rather then the visual. It is that extra depth and complexity in his work I find very rewarding. Moreover in the Monte Carlo Bond he questioned the actual system of art, and in the process helped establishing the current modes of art production, distribution and consumption, which is also curiously related to aspects of the digital format of dissemination employed by Sedition.

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How do the works contribute to your wider practice and ideas explored in your work?

The themes explored in these pieces are very much intrinsic to broader ideas I am currently developing for a large narrative video installation piece. In that sense the films are both part of a larger body of works, but moreover of interrelated systems of creative thinking.

What interests you about distributing your work digitally?

The de-materialisation of the images in the process of digitisation allows the viewer to test the conceptual and contextual parameters of the artwork without the guidance and the tools employed by the traditional art establishments. It is certainly more democratic, but at the same time challenging. The work of art has to compete with an array of visually complex high and low production imagery available across various digital media platforms that are inextricably generative and occupy a large chunk of our everyday interactions and communications with the outside world. I quite like the idea of positioning art within these very competitive and fast-paced domains of popular culture.

What are your favorite artworks on Sedition?

I like works that are intellectually challenging and multifaceted. Works that offer not just visual, or retinal complexity and satisfaction, but also generate an intellectual thought and discourse and thus threading a connectedness to established art forms from past and present.

What are your current projects and exhibitions? What are your plans for the upcoming months?

In the last two years I have been developing a project entitled Desire Lines -Tarot and Chess, which will consist of a large-scale three channel video and sound installation, sculptures, paintings and anamorphic drawings. The work was commissioned by Extra City Kunsthal, Antwerp in partnership with Witte de With, Rotterdam, FLACC and 0090 Festival, Belgium and more recently Focal Point, Southend-on-Sea. The final piece will manifest itself next year in a series of large-scale solo exhibitions, site-specific works and process driven projects across the different venues. Desire Lines – Tarot and Chess examines the convergence of destiny and chance, and the disjunction and dissonance that takes place when juxtaposed with notions of the logical, categorical and rational, and which will be broadly positioned in the realms of the speak-able and the visible, or the literary and the pictorial.

The installation will consist of three distinct elements. The conceptual framework is based on the tarot and the game of chess, with references to their depictions in literature. The Tarot section takes its cue from Italo Calvino’s book ‘The Castle of Crossed Destinies’ (1973), whereas Chess remotely reflects on elements from Vladimir Nabokov’s book ‘The Luzhin Defence’ (1930). Calvino’s book portrays an encounter of travelers who tell their adventures (or whose adventures are told for them) using tarot cards instead of words. The interpretations of the cards in the book allude to classic tales such as Faust, Oedipus, and Shakespearian narratives such as Hamlet, Macbeth and King Lear. The third component of the installation will be a scene that depicts a poetry-reading event. This scene will act as a catalyst that will attempt to arbitrate between the Tarot and Chess elements. The poems will be commissioned specifically for the project under the theme of Desire Lines. They are broadly paths of will that represent the search for the shortest navigational route between an origin and destination. Structurally the work will attempt to entwine and present a series of moral and philosophical tales in the tangible format of theatrical performance.

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Ergin Çavuşoğlu’s One Hundred Thousand Balls, Joker Shuffle and Bubble Dart are available exclusively on Sedition.

Collectors can take advantage of a 10% discount when purchasing the entire Ergin Çavuşoğlu Collection.

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