“Off the Record” project is conducted by 13 Metrekare Art Collective with the support of “Spaces of Culture”. Through the work of eighteen artists from varying disciplines, “Off the Record” focuses on the collective memory of the city and space that has not been covered through the mainstream, formal historical narratives. Like the methods of an archeological research, the project considers the remnants of the formal and informal narratives in relation with the socio-cultural layers of existence, through the concepts of destruction, alienation, desertion and de-identification that happen to be a common destiny of spaces. Like infiltrating  through a crack within a solid whole, the traces followed through the unknown memory of space, open up quite different new perspectives. Through the “Off the Record” project, the collective memory of spaces built in different time periods is revealed through images produced by various disciplines including contemporary art, literature and zine. 

Spaces are reproduced through the own experience of contributing artists, considering initial inhabitants and transformations of functionality, utilizing the knowledge obtained from the carriers of culture and print material. The co-existence of space and the concepts of identity, belonging and forced migrations are considered in a spatio-temporal context. “Off the Record” project and exhibition, in a sense, can be interpreted as a re-integration of the excluded or censored scenes of a film. In this context, the process and the outcomes of the project can be regarded as an effort to include the narratives that are left out of the mainstream historical narration but accumulated in the collective memory, back in the circulation of the visible. The space-specific artworks artists have produced give clues about how urban experience can reveal the ambiguity of memory and space.

In the context of “Off the Record” project, Mehmet Ali Boran, departs from four of the mounds located in the Mesopotamia Plain, and in his video “The Waiting”, he refers to aminism, feudality, power and politics on the basis of space and time. Through the video the artist questions the operation of the surveillance mechanisms of contemporary security systems and how space is continuously reproduced accordingly. Cebrail Özmen remarks on the resistance of nature against the ecosystem destruction caused by the hydroelectric plant in the Gurs Valley. In his work “Power Plant”, besides a sensorial video, he reveals the existence of the Plant’s old metal pipes, which are now merged into nature, with an on-the-site intervention. 

Murat Küçük, in his zine work “Sayfiye Mood” points out the spatial, ecological and demographic transformation of Mardin’s Sayfiye areas. As attempts of a recall, zines he produced are distributed digitally and in print. MehmetÇimen, with his work “Construction”, produces a video on the story of a military barracks’ transformation into a museum, and turns the video into an ironic shadow play through the use of new media. Drawing our attention to the potential of the spatial transformation due to the political conjuncture and alliances, the work also includes a construction scaffolding installation in the exhibition space. Veysi Anuk and Hasan Atılgan’s mutual work, “Deconstruction Wells” is a site specific installation. Both the interventions on ordinary transparent nylon bags and their reflections on well water become images, referring to the darkness of the wells, and turning transparent narratives of ourselves and our pasts. Adnan Toparlı, in his video on the Historical Emir Hammam, “Trace”, questions concepts of time and space, considering social gender roles and trauma of finding the way back home, through his personal memory. Canan Budak in the “Kinship of Stones” work focuses on Mardin Castle which has been subject to human-centered dominance for years. The work is an installation that brings together the “devshirme” stones of the castle aiming to reproduce space through the construction of a miniature sorting area. İbrahim Ayhan’s work “Belonging” focuses on the deformation of the space created by the authority imposed by belief systems. Two installations bring together the traces of a sensory experience of cross-symbol removal with a figure reflected on the south wall of the exhibition space, and abstract traces of the praying act on a prayer’s rug. Mehmet Sait Tunç, as an outcome of his oral history work on the American College (Prot), monumentalized the unforgettable brimmed hat of Miss Fennagay, the most important figure in the space’s memory. In his work, “Exile” he transformed a lace tablecloth to a monumental image referring also to the lacework training of the orphan girls at the college. Amar Kılıç, with his work “Property belongs to God”, questions the secrets of spaces and the unseen behind the sills. His other work “Never!” transforms Şemme Hatun’s resistance into an art form through the participatory bodily experience of the audience. Büşra Akgeyik in her work “Present”, questions the collective memory of the city, reminding the rituals erased from the collective memory, with her performances about the memory of the space consisting of a fountain and a tomb located at the end of a blind alley. Flaneur Initiation artists question the space through concepts like change, transformation, space, dwelling, belonging and identity. The artworks named “Remainders of Yesterday”, “Nameless”, “Birth Life Death” and “Resident-less” referring to the layers of change and transformation of space, lead the way to the discovery of the unknown memory of the space both in a sensuous and visual sense. Nurullah Değer while raising thoughts on migration, loss, expulsion, being or not-being, his work “Immigration” consists of a deformed carpet installation while “Tavit”, a shirt installation, refers to an unknown figure of the space. Finally, Îrfan Amîda’s work “Crack of the Stone” produces a literary narrative on the Surur Terminal, which was used for transportation to/from the city and the villages and towns, through his personal memory and experience. In this way, he establishes a bond between personal and collective memory. 

Aysel ALVER / Aydın İldoğan
Leyla Keskin / Erkan Muratoğlu
Amar Kılıç / Hilal Yaşlı
Canan Budak / Hasan Özcan
Hamdullah Aydoğan / Şeyhmus Bartan
Ayhan Akikol / Mehmet Toparlı
Ayda Bayruğ / Riva Ezilmez
Baran Aykutbay / Selahattin Babat