Titled “In Case of Loss, Please Return to,” the show features Kadirbeyoğlu’s “robot family” and a large installation of gloves hanging from the ceiling together with a Polaroid photo collection and a sound recording in the background. “When I was living in New York I realized there were lots of lost gloves around the city. Then I decided to collect these and I had a paper bag to put them in, in my purse, since they were dirty sometimes. After a while, my family and my friends also started to collect them for me. I was not washing them because I wanted to exhibit them as they were in a show,” she explains in an interview with Today’s Zaman.
Kadirbeyoğlu says she thought a lot about why New Yorkers leave a lot of gloves around and why they are not important for their owners. “I began to write stories about the owners in my mind sometimes. I was curious who had this pair of gloves, for instance, and whether she got sad or not when she lost them,” she says, pointing out a purple pair of gloves in the exhibition space. “Where was she going? How did she lose them? With these questions in mind, I decided to give characters to the gloves and the idea to make a robot as if I was giving new life to them started like this,” she continues.
The robots are a perfect metaphor for New Yorkers due to their routines, according to Kadirbeyoğlu. “People in New York work a lot and they are constantly busy. In the evenings they go to the gym. They even drink their coffee on the way while walking somewhere. I wanted to refer to this state of being a robot, as well,” she says. She first produced “Monsieur Makkina” out of recycled water pipes, a motor, a digital temperature controller, a motion sensor, a sewing mannequin, mannequin hands and a pair of lost gloves. The robot rubs his hands together when a visitor triggers its motion sensor.
Kadirbeyoğlu then sewed gloves together and made a jacket titled “Madame Makkina,” which comes with simple instructions on how to make your own jacket from found gloves. “Actually, homeless people can sew their own jackets that will keep them pretty warm,” she adds with a smile. Finally, “Jr. Makkina,” a smaller robot built around an old hand drill mechanism, joined the family.
A large installation of gloves, hanging from the ceiling as if they are making hand gestures, surrounds the robots along with Polaroid photos of the artist’s visitors in New York. “I also found a road sign in New York and hung it in my apartment. Whoever visited me, I would take their photo in front of this sign. I reproduced the sign for the show and put the photos on it in the corridor in the gallery,” she explains.
A graduate of Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University’s ceramics and glass department, Kadirbeyoğlu has always produced large-scale art works. “I was either making something big or several small things. Minimalism was one of my biggest influences, so I was producing the same simple object again and again. In my sophomore year, I started to make installations,” she recalls when asked about her university years.
Following her graduation, she was accepted by the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, where she learned how to make robots, video editing and wood works, together with working with ceramics. “I was using a technique of mixing clay with paper. When you put the two together in an oven, the paper burns and leaves a different texture on the clay. After a while, I developed this technique a little bit and started to collect used paper. When you cover a thin paper with clay and put it into the oven, the paper burns and you have two layers of very thin liquid clay, which have the marks of the print from the burned paper,” Kadirbeyoğlu explains. When she discovered this, she developed a project titled “Immigration” (2002), which refers to her anxiety about not being able to get a residence visa in the US following her graduation. “I xeroxed countless numbers of my US visa photos on legal-size paper. I displayed these thin sheets of clay on a metal table with the continuous sound of passports being stamped,” she says.
Another interesting -- and entertaining -- video of hers is titled “Visa Applicants” (2010). It reflects the torturous process of getting a European visa in Turkey with testimonies from visa applicants in front of the German Consulate in İstanbul. It also underlines the hardships faced by immigrants. “There is something completely inhuman going on there. They make people wait long, long hours outside of the building and this is all in order to get a five-day tourist visa,” she complains. In the video, she asks the people in front of the consulate several questions and they answer her by holding a magnifying glass in front of their mouths. “I did it in order to underline the stress of these people. It is like stating their complaints with capital letters. Moreover, in many European embassies, you talk to the consuls behind glass that is bullet and sound proof. You communicate with them by telephone or similar devices. It is exactly like being in a prison. There is no respect for these people at all,” she explains. The video is currently being screened in New York and Munich.
Kadirbeyoğlu’s robot family, which has previously been displayed in New York, Switzerland and Germany, will be on view until Oct. 22 at ALANistanbul’s exhibition space in Beyoğlu on the Tünel end of İstiklal Street. For more information on the artist and the exhibition space, visit www.devrimkadirbeyoglu.com and www.alanistanbul.com.