Factory Settings

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished – Lao Tzu

We came here on the hottest days of summer, when everyone embraced the idea of a holiday and fled from the city to the seaside and into nature. Of course, escaping from the city has a lot to do with the fact that there will be a return to the city. To let yourself into the time of nature, to be involved in it and to remember, to understand… Despite all its inconsistency, rethinking the state of life in the city with a calm and vigorous mind, and going back to it with a transformed mind.

We were the champions of escaping from the city. Moreover, we made this perfect escape by staying in the heart of the city. Everything we wanted was here. In the season when cicadas prevail, a cool area covered with large trees and greenery. A bitter peace within us created by an abandoned, ruined, huge building. That big gap. We have become transient heroes of a dystopian urban tale. Due to the harsh conditions offered by an area of civilization residual, we, like the members of a primitive tribe, first checked around and assuring that there was no danger, we occupied the place...

Transformation has been an integral part of this process from the very beginning. It never let go of us. From time to time, when our perceptions of time differed and we became disconnected from each other, we were not sure whether we could hold the exhibition here. Then somebody brought something forward. Another one added something else to it, some other one supported it, another agreed with it. Finally, we found ourselves in a ten-day work at Sümerbank.

We took an expedition to understand what we could do right after we decided to stay. What we saw had an impact on us from the very first moment. Even being here itself was quite impressive. We just stood in front of some of the buildings, stood and stared. We were becoming acquainted with Sümerbank …

Some artists, like an archaeologist, wandered among the great ruins, while others, like a nature observer, spent time in places that reminded the forest. Sümerbank knew everything and secretly whispered to us its wisdom. It was impossible to think without hearing it. Thinking of its days as a factory, a whole functioning organism appeared in our minds…

Eventually, everyone decided what to do. In the ongoing creation process, we followed the path of "concrete-nature", where human destructiveness is mixed with nature's regenerative power. Our "spontaneity" that started with our coming together has always continued. Every time we met in the field, we acted organically, cooperatively engaged in the works. Every evening close to dark we left our works, collected our garbage and left the area until the next meeting, we separated.

Sometimes there were people who came to visit us from outside. Often the first thing they asked was whether we got permission to work here. Of course, we didn't get permission. Neither we nor the authority we would try to get permission from, would want to be in such a story of Aziz Nesin*, we knew this from the beginning.

We were on the evidence of how a structure that was incomplete, unable to create a certain consciousness, was systematically invalidated and emptied and rendered dysfunctional. This structure belonged to a society that was ready to rise from its ashes after the war, trying to establish business and working relations with a different spirit. However, in its current form, it only resembles a battlefield…

While no one received permission from us for anything that happened to us, we did not feel the need to ask permission from anyone. Sümerbank was already ours.

So why did we make such an intervention?

We chose a dilapidated factory with an unknown future to tell the things we were concerned about. In the Factory Settings, we wanted to address in our own way the issues that we think concerns not only the workers but also the whole humanity.

“The feeling that we have reached a 'turning point' in the history of humanity gives renewed force to the old question: where do we come from? Where are we? And behind those questions, the question of questions: where are we going? A question to be understood in every sense of the term, and in all its aspects. It interrogates not only the world and science - where is history going? Where is science going? - but also each one of us: what is our place in the world? What place can we occupy in the world today, given its uncertain future? What attitude should we adopt with regard to our work, to the general ideas that guide or hinder our research and may guide our political action?”**

... Of course, none of this had happened by itself …

* Turkish humorist and author
** Althusser, Philosophy and the Spontaneous Philosophy of the Scientists, 1967

Exhibition Unit: Factory Settings