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Cappadocia Struck

Artistic interventions in Cappadocia commenting on the different modes of perceiving and experiencing its landscape, rock architecture, and multilayered history. By Fulya Erdemci & Kevser Güler, with numerous photos.
Jun 2015

With its extraordinary geological structure, monumental landscape and unique rock architecture as well as its multilayered history, Cappadocia is an exceptionally laden place. Furthermore, the region is undergoing a complicated process of transition from a largely agricultural model of life and livelihood to a tourism based economy. Therefore, the "Cappadocia Struck" organized by PozitifLive in the frame of the Cappadox festival has been composed step by step parallel to the process of understanding this intense geography.

The exhibition was realized in Uçhisarlı Çarhacı Mustafa Effendi Mansion and the building complex that exemplify the hybrid architecture of Uçhisar as well as its settlements emerging through an almost organic process tracing the contours of its topography. Thus, this building complex, where nature and architecture as well as different historical moments flow into one another, was considered as an actor in its own right, rather than merely an exhibition venue.

Like the exhibition, the projects of the artists were pointing at a state of becoming. Hence, the artists’ productions were considered as gestures because they refered to immediacy, spontaneity and incompleteness that coincide with their responses to Cappadocia. Opening up a space for conversations on the artistic imagination’s forms of engagement with a particular place, the artists created new projects that focused on the geography, architecture and settlements together with the ways of dwelling in the region. In the shadow play screened in a rock-carved space, Christoph Schäfer not only brought out his fascination with the corporeality of the architecture created by carving the rocks and shaping of the city by human bodies, but also read the cave city as a practical critique of urban planning. Ornamentation - Uçhisar by Cevdet Erek inspired by the soundscape of the region, explored the acoustic character of diversity of spaces where different modes of architecture co-exist. To his pattern-based rhythms, Cevdet introduced sounds of pigeons, a crucial element in the region for centuries. Instead of recording, Cevdet imitated the sound of pigeons’ flapping their wings by clapping a small notebook.
Focusing on the geological processes and transformation of the region that resulted in the current physical environment, Murat Şahinler and his collaborators Can Altıneller, Engin Büke and Yakup Çetinkaya proposed a sort of "modeling" through interventions into daily objects such as the "Hourglass of Ash", lava movements, Fairy-Rocket and "homemade" volcano. Based on the association between lighting a match and the Big Bang, they articulated natural processes such as the formation of the universe, expansion and contraction dynamics and volcano eruptions with social processes.
There were projects coming in direct contact with the geography. The project of Ayşe Erkmen intervened with the Uçhisar Castle, the peak point and the biggest fairy chimney of the region. By placing three colorful spheres into the holes at the Castle, she created a contrast with the organic form and monochrome color of the Castle pointing at its sculptural form, scale, as well as the natural and cultural processes that shaped it. Maider López, on the other hand, realized a performative action taking place at the Zemi Valley where 25 people stood on 25 hills, and then the same people occupied only one hill giving a human dimension to the landscape. Maider’s two additional projects were also related to the geography. Disappearing visualized our very experience in these specific geographical conditions while Moving Stones documenting the performative walks Maider took in Uçhisar, refered to the invisible changes in the landscape as well as the continuous movement of stones for purposes of architecture, speculation or art making. Another project directly connected with the geography was Özge Önderoğlu Akkuyu & Emin Naci Akkuyu’s research on the flora of Cappadocia. When Özge moved to Nevşehir, she started to take photographs of the plants as the "invisibles of Cappadocia" and this effort eventually turned into a research.

Hera Büyüktaşçıyan, Nilbar Güreş and Murat Germen addressed the socio-economic and political conditions of the region. Hera departed from the historical case of the Greek community’s being forced to leave their homeland in accordance with the population exchange treaty between Turkey and Greece in 1923. Based on the inscription engraved at the entrance of Serafim Rizos’ mansion in Sinasos (Mustafa Pasha) the work took its title from the inscription And never belongs to no one making reference to the myriad of peoples who dwelled in Anatolia. Nilbar pursued the traces of defined gender roles in one of the rooms at the Mansion. In her research visit, Nilbar came across an accounting book in a souvenir shop run by a community of women producers from the region. She not only commissioned special knits for her installation but also asked for the accounting book to present it, offering a perspective on the model of a grassroots economic organization. In his moving images articulated in three spheres as lower, middle and upper worlds in reference to the specific dwellings in the region, Murat questioned the alienated image of Cappadocia created by various forms of consumerist culture and explored the possibility of alternative ways of seeing.

Taking part in a music festival, the exhibition also featured a work reflecting on the form of music as a conceptual commentary. Inspired by Pythagoras’ monochord, John Körmeling invented the Frogsichord, an extension of it with two keyboards, where the tunes are based on counting area and volume. Charlemagne Palestine’s second performance with the instrument took place in Bağlıdere (Love) Valley.

As Yorgo Seferis writes in his notes on his travels to Cappadocia in 1950’s, it is strange to contemplate on how the geography is changing across the land extending in front of Mount Argaeus. Cappadocia Struck intends to share our "romantic" awe in the face of this special geography, while commenting on the different modes of perceiving and experiencing it today.

© Text: Fulya Erdemci and Kevser Güler, curator and associate curator of Cappadocia Struck

Fulya Erdemci: Curator and writer based in Istanbul. Curator of the 13th Istanbul Biennial 2013 and of the Pavilion of Turkey at the 54th Venice Biennale 2011.

Kevser Guler has a background in engineering and philosophy, and has worked for the Istanbul Biennial since its 10th Edition. She was the assistant curator of the 13th Istanbul Biennial 2013.

Cappadocia Struck
16 - 31 May 2015
Cappadocia, Nevşehir, Turkey

Curator: Fulya Erdemci
Associate Curator: Kevser Güler

Artists, collaborators and researchers:
Ayşe Erkmen, Cevdet Erek, Christoph Shaefer, Hera Büyüktaşçıyan, John Körmeling & Charlemagne Palestine, Maider Lopez, Murat Germen, Murat Şahinler in colaboration with Can Altıneller, Engin Büke and Yakup Çetinkaya, Nilbar Güreş and Özge Önderoğlu Akkuyu & Emin Naci Akkuyu

Exhibition: Uçhisarlı Çarhacı Mustafa Effendi Building ‘Complex’
Experimental music performance: Bağlıdere (Love) Valley
Minimalist intervention: Uçhisar Castle


Cappadox Festival



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