The story of this publication goes back to a much earlier idea, that of preparing a booklet on Gülsün Karamustafa’s artistic practice in the context of the 3rd International Istanbul Biennial. The scope of the text, written by Deniz Şengel, was developed in 1992-1993 in collaboration with the artist. However, this work, prepared with meticulous attention to detail, was never published in book form.
The project was revived for A Promised Exhibition held at SALT in 2013-2014, and the book has now been transformed into an e-publication that remains faithful to the structure prepared many years ago by Şengel, who passed away in 2009. We would like to thank Deniz Şengel’s sister Mine Şengel for her significant contribution during this process.
“In fact, the work of Gülsün Karamustafa, whose every exhibition and installation has received wide recognition, has been consistently taken up in terms of categories of psychological and socio-cultural decay that range from a vision of the work as a series of arguments on “arabesk sentimentality” and “fatalism,” to the “documentation” or “gratulatory illustration” of “decadence” and “rampant aesthetics of kitsch,” to the perception of the work as “transmitting to the viewer a certain dejection,” presumably about the loss of high culture, integrity and historical identity. Regardless of whether the orientation is sociological, psychological, or aesthetic, the shared error of these perceptions is the notion that the work of visual art is fundamentally a temporal object whose constitution can be genetically derived along a diachronic axis. In other words, they reify in temporal terms, as a diachrony of different cultural periods, what is in fact a synchronic tropological mechanism of mutual undoing.”