A mock talk show by Işıl Eğrikavuk, ‘Change Will Be Terrific!’ is creating a media spectacle around a theme that blends ordinary events with the absurd, straddling the line between fiction and reality
Greece’s Parthenon, Syria’s Palmyra and Egypt’s pyramids are coming to Istanbul’s famous Taksim Square. While this may sound impossible, an art performance brings this notion to life.
Artist Işıl Eğrikavuk will perform a fictional talk show discussing the changes to Taksim Square as a semi-fictional urban transformation project. The project will also focus on the real social change and transformation that Taksim is currently undergoing as a result of the Arab Spring.
Both fictional and real characters participate in the mock talk show, which is hosted by a well-known TV show host. The work uses the language of popular media to operate like a real media spectacle, contemplating the ways popular media filter current events for the public. Simultaneously, the performance concentrates on the process of urban change in the city and the cultural politics that are associated with this change, using Taksim Square as a metaphor. Following the mock talk show, “Change Will Be Terrific!” also includes an exhibition.
Eğrikavuk always aims to underline the fine line between fiction and reality in her works. She begins her works by writing a script, which becomes the centerpiece of her performance. With that script she develops a tale. Because of her other occupation, journalism, Eğrikavuk follows the news closely. Her main concern is always storytelling: She is interested in telling the more invisible and human side of the news.
In “Change Will Be Terrific!” Eğrikavuk aims to reflect the same affinity on the characters and plot. In fact the story of the performance relies on current urban transformation projects in the Taksim district of Istanbul. According to Eğrikavuk, the scenario seems very absurd because the talk show in the performance addresses a fictional urban transformation issue in Taksim.
“The scenario of my performance focuses on a project bringing the world’s most important monuments to Taksim Square. Three people discuss this project; they are fictional characters also,” she said.
As with her other artistic works, in which ordinary events meld with absurd situations, “Change Will Be Terrific!” tells the semi-fictional stories of the talk show participants, tales which range from a novel to an architectural project; a rap song to a small business owner’s personal story. Her stories are never real but may seem real to the audience as her characters present them very sincerely. However, most of her actors are not professionals.
According to Eğrikavuk, creating the characters is very important. She works meticulously on her characters, “because creating characters is a part of this job. The characters and the actors are very important in my performance. This is the same for all my work.”
Her characters are neither fabricated people nor documentary objects, Eğrikavuk said. “I am always playing with the fine line between fiction and reality.”
Eğrikavuk’s “Change Will Be Terrific!” is the first project commissioned by the SPOT Production Fund, and will be presented on Sept. 29 at 6 p.m. at Salt Beyoğlu. It is curated by Zeynep Öz, and Jozef Erçevik Amado is the art director.
Artist Işıl Eğrikavuk’s four fictional characters also demonstrate social change in Taksim Square, which attracts many Arab tourists.
One character, Egyptian writer Amira Hussein, will tell about her book, a love story that takes place at Tahrir Square, while the performance reveals the comparison between Taksim and Tahrir.
The character of Hussein’s translator, Yasser Dallal, will represent social and cultural changes as he talks about a fictional restaurant he owns in the Bebek quarter of Istanbul.
An architect will announce on the talk show that they will be launching the 3P project to bring the Parthenon, Palmyra and pyramids to Taksim.
At the end, Fuat, a rap singer, will perform for the audience, summarizing the project