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Silhouettes of Time

The Transient Grace of Vanishing Keepsakes

Ümmühan Yörük & Can Akgümüş 

Barın Han 



“If ‘being’ is absent at a time, what is present is “nothingness”, its opposite side.”


Time has always been a relative concept. Although there is no consensus on the definition of time, there is no disagreement on its measurement. According to the common understanding of ancient societies in history, time is not a phenomenon that moves in a straight line from the past to the future. Time moves in cycles, that is, it goes around in a circle and eventually comes back to where it started. The sun and the moon rotate, and the Earth rotates; days turn into months, months into years, and months into centuries and millennia. There are such special corners in the world; in the midst of all this cyclicity, the roots of being hold on tightly to these corners. Being has chosen to take root in this land and flourish. Perhaps what really ensures the cyclicity of time is its ability to draw large circles by revisiting these roots insistently. Thus, being buries itself in these lands, and as time accumulates, it deepens layer by layer and merges with its exact opposite, nothingness, on the horizon.

İstanbul, this ancient city, also has special coordinates located at the very center of the cyclicity where being takes root. The historical peninsula, which bears the traces of many beings that have passed through these lands, contains the energy and burden of these beings and covers much more than what is visible with its soil, still hides its secret in its own shadow today.

The productions of Ümmühan Yörük and Can Akgümüş meet exactly on these coordinates, in the heart of the historical peninsula. The works of two artists who produce in different mediums intertwine and intersect in the exhibition Silhouettes of Time: The Transient Grace of Vanishing Keepsakes, hosted by Barın Han, located on the Divanyolu axis. The reckoning with the human being, the only conscious subject of thousands of years of existence, the fragility of the body, the power of memory, the scar of the wound, and history itself enables artists to meet on common ground.

The body, which is treated as the silhouette of time, becomes the center of the narrative for both artists. The armor made of this skin, which carries the soul on its hump throughout life, is treated as imperfect; as a carrier subject that is both durable and fragile, and that changes and transforms over time.

We understand from its changing form that the carrier subject, exposed to time, wears out, and in return, its memory expands at the same rate. The transformation of form tells us the story of the ancient cycle. When we look at the grand scheme of things while coming to terms with history, the meaning of people's subjective stories fades away. Despite this, the memories that are transferred from language to language, from generation to generation, from one century to the next throughout the cycle, remain a keepsake for each of us. Each body born with the burden of the story passes this burden on to those who follow after, tightly bound by invisible bonds. This is where the concept of impermanence comes into play; those who think they have it are mistaken. Our mortal lives are only meant to witness, not to possess.

The purpose of a keepsake is to be owned. If a lifetime is not enough for this, it wants to be transferred from hand to hand, to preserve its talisman and become an eternal being.

Can Akgümüş, December 2023

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