Now You're Far Away
Released 19 October 2017
Now You're Far Away borrows its title from one of the most popular Turkish songs of the 20th century, a Turkish classical ballad written and performed by Zeki Müren. It seeks to explore the threshold between what we refer to as reality and its framing through images; the way that the moment we think we’ve captured an image or grasped it’s meaning, it is already sliding away from us, leaving behind a sense of absence and longing.
Merve Ünsal’s internet project stems from a performance which took place in Istanbul on 12 June 2017. It involved two parallel events. The sentence "Now You're Far Away" was projected onto the (supposedly) public space of the Bosphorus Bridge. At the same time, on the boat from which the projection was made, a group of twenty people endeavoured to discuss and share what they deemed to be unutterable.
The negotiation of publicness is a constant necessity in the precarious circumstances of our present political existence. The deeply political nature of the personal languages of love and desire constantly has to be dealt with. In this work, the group’s paradoxical attempts to articulate and make public their "unutterable" are brought into a simple yet poignant, potent relationship with something private and intimate that’s been sung or spoken publicly again and again, in diverse collective contexts.
Presented here are the two main elements of the performance: a sound recording and a photograph. The sound recording has been transcribed, translated into English and edited into a reflection of – and on – the flow of conversation. The image, a document of a finite event, invokes the core nature of photography as witness or testimony.
Through this re-presentation of what happened in a semi-public space and a public space, the durational differences of the two instances, the then and the now, draw out what could be deemed as a space of possibility or even agency. How might artists carve out ephemeral spaces of political agency in 2017? How can we imagine and defend these spaces, and use them to articulate the supposedly unutterable?
Ünsal would like to say thank you to Asli Seven for her collaborative flair and the sound recording of this project. And a huge thank you to all those who were on the boat and who shared their unutterables on June 12, 2017.
ABOUT MERVE UNSAL
Merve Ünsal is a visual artist based in Istanbul. In her works, she employs text and photography, possibly beyond their form. Merve holds an MFA in Photography and Related Media from Parsons The New School of Design and a BA in Art and Archaeology from Princeton University. She was most recently a participant at the Homework Space Program 2014-15 at Ashkal Alwan, Beirut. She has participated in artist residencies at the Delfina Foundation and at the Banff Centre. Merve is the founding editor of the artist-driven online publishing initiative m-est.org. Ünsal participated in PRAKSIS's residency #4, Cultural Mistranslations in 2016.