Barin Han, Istanbul
19.09 – 17.11 2019
There is such a paradox that before being a living room, the main room of the house was worthy of a museum, with objects and furniture preferred for their aesthetics rather than their functionality.
By “Before”, I invite you to go back in time, where we are not referring to a living room and other sitting room but to a salon. Aristocratic in the 19th century, it embodies the interior that opens onto the outside, always in a state of anticipation, all spruced up, ready to welcome and receive a demonstration of the theatre of social life, more than intimate.The furniture, which is still unique and expensive, dominates the space in terms of its aesthetic quality and generates, during the industrial revolution, an appropriation of the codes of the aristocratic salon with the emergence of the bourgeoisie, the notion of comfort and the development of a mass production of similar and less expensive goods. In these very brief historical shifts, aesthetic choices are not anodyne, if they evolve over time, they codify the wealth, power and taste of the owner of the place. Everything reminds in its place, museumized, according to a subjective hierarchy, rarely if ever moved. The salon is organized as a meticulous staging of the domestic space and would be similar to what is called an exhibition display whose owner would be the curator.
In her paintings, Merve Denizci builds the space of the salon and its multiple perspectives where human warmth has been absent. Her pictorial proposals engage the impossible functionality of furniture, always parasitized by the aesthetic falling into its own absurdity. Merve bases her work on observations from Turkish middle-class salons, and perceives a strong westernization influence until the 1960s and 1980s, where furniture from mass production continued to be treated like museum pieces in the domestic space, almost like a cabinet. A life-size glass case in the household.
In each of the series of paintings and drawings we find the apparat of a living room where the furniture is kept away from daily life, as a screen to it. It begins with the work Three possibilities of a painting in which three canvases are articulated in the form of a folding screen (paravent), deprived of its quality of obstruction and dissimulation, overtaken by its decorative value. The work announces the mise en abyme  to be followed.
For this exhibition, the pictorial space is located inside the replayed salon as an exhibition display where a confusion of plans takes place, the only pattern is embodied by the salon itself. The exhibition space, uninhabited, invests the representation of the ideal domestic interior, codified, museumized. We then imagine ourselves temporarily taking up residence in an environment with the appearance of permanence, setting into in the space of a depopulated salon that blurs the domestic and exhibition space. This staging can be seen as an indivisible whole, where each element participates in a representation of the accumulation that is as material and aesthetic as it is symbolic. The orchestrated juxtaposition willingly leaves clues subtly arranged in a frontal arrangement that maintains the ambiguity of a living room whose decoration has overflowed from the painting.
In her works and in the elements of installations displayed in the exhibition, the spaces circulate from the canvas to the environment. Merve temporarily establishes the permanence of an eternal arrangement from the interior. For my part, I see it as a place of life crossed, a space of transition, a point of focus and encounter between public and private life, or rather a private space to which public life enters. But if the salon has attributes of exhibition space and the exhibition invests these elements of the salon, it may be necessary to identify a third possibility, a space in between where Merve’s work is located as she invests the authority of furniture as an object, inserted into a broader historical process, an overview of the history of furniture, of the salon as an aesthetic tool.
Finally, it is up to the viewer to experiment with the pictorial space, to inhabit it as much as the exhibition space. Let the viewer take care to cross the doorway, to wander through an imaginary, impossible yet disturbing salon, built in parallel of the painting, as a stage, a place of sociability and demonstration. An interrelation between the represented space and the scenic space is eventually created, where both pictorial and spatial unity act as a whole, and where objects function in their aesthetics.
The process consists in representing a work in a similar work.