13.10.2022 - 19.11.2022
Click for press release.
Labirent Sanat is hosting the exhibition titled “There is No Gene for The Human Spirit” which includes Burçin Erdi's latest works, between 8 December 2022 – 14 January 2023.
“While I struggled through inclusive nature descriptions what I encountered was the realization of what looks like an end was actually a start. For me, death was a start. There was no death in nature and she continuously repeated and renewed herself. The start of this cyclical action happened in our body (the cell). Isn’t the birth of the human the initiation of his death? And how much contrasts resembled each other...”
Burçin Erdi talks about the decisive effect of the birth-death opposition on her paintings, which shaped her production, in the introduction to the catalog of her exhibition titled "Mother Nature" (2018). Is it not precisely the consciousness of this finitude that distinguishes human from other living beings? Our compulsion to face death causes anxiety, which is one of the main dilemmas of life. Anxiety that arises at some point in our lives as a profound crisis of existential meaning reveals our responsibility to choose who we are and inspires us to make changes in our lives. Existential psychotherapist Rollo May defines anxiety as “it's as though the world is knocking at your door, and you need to create, you need to do something.” Thus, he emphasizes the creative and courageous nature of anxiety for people who can find their own essence.
The hope for the future felt by the individual who leaps forward in uncertainty is one of the driving forces behind the human spirit. Hope provides the necessary motivation for a person to be the individual one chooses, to endure difficulties, to overcome these difficulties and to progress. This is the defining feature of our species. When we take away hope for some reason, aren't we destroying a part of humanity? What if a person's future was determined not by his own choices, destiny, luck, ambition, desire, passions, or intelligence, but by the choices of his parents? Would such a determination leave hope in one's life? Who would be responsible for a life, an existence constructed by someone else? Is it possible to talk about the authenticity of a life that is shaped out of our own will?
In the movie "Gattaca" (1997), which deals with the possible social consequences of commercialized genetic engineering in the 21st century, the primary way to determine the place and value of an individual in society is through the quality of one's genetics, rather than polarization of society according to gender, ethnicity, or race. A person's future is no longer determined by the desire or ambition to do something in life, but rather by his genetic predisposition for intelligence, athleticism, or potential in the workplace. Ultimately, creating generations of superhumans has become so commonplace with good results that children not engineered by gene editing are a relative minority. Since they aren’t as talented and strong as superhumans, they are discriminated against in social life. In the film, we witness the growth process of Vincent, who has not been genetically modified, and his genetically engineered brother Anton. Throughout the film, we watch Vincent, who is a child of faith, trying to exceed his own nature to reach his dreams. His family, who chose to give birth to a natural child, could not have known his biggest dream would be to go to space and he had to be capable of competing with genetically engineered humans. In the film, Vincent's defeat of his brother Anton in the swimming competitions proves that Vincent's spirit and determination paved the way for him to beat Anton. Vincent's spirit and desire to achieve his dreams enable him to overcome society. Even with God-given genetics, he gets what he wants. In the movie Gattaca, could it be that opposites bring each other into existence, overlooked by the man (white-western-male) who has the power to dominate the world, in his effort to perfect human with the possibilities of technology?
In the process of understanding the universe and existence, perhaps the least information reached by humans is about the mind. In ancient Greek philosophy, "psykhe", that is, "spirit" as the basic principle of all life, was used to mean mind as the center of consciousness. In connection with these two meanings, it is used as the vital force, the life or vitality principle that gives life to the body. Ancient thinkers interpreted the body within the mind-body dualism, and it took a secondary position. Plato saw the body as the tomb of spirit, the fundamental flaw of humanity whose roots are no longer in heaven but on earth. In religious teachings, the body is the source of transient pleasures and sins. In "Farewell to the Body", David Le Breton states that in contemporary scientific discourse, the body is thought of as an indifferent substance that carries the person; the body, which is now ontologically distinguished from the subject, turns into an object of use to heal, not the root of human identity but a raw material in which personal identity dissolves. In Gattaca too, the question of whether the child, who has become a purely utilitarian object of order with his flawed, disease-prone, fragile body, has no place for his own identity can be asked as if the circumstances surrounding origin were unimportant. Doesn't the child, in the age of industrial reproducibility, lose the uniqueness, aura, and difference, like the artwork Benjamin examines? David Le Breton contains the answer to the question.
We see neonatal or fetuses at the center of nature portrayals such as forests and caves in Burçin Erdi's paintings, which she brought together under the title "There is No Gene for The Human Spirit" in Labirent Sanat. This creates the idea that the place we perceive as a forest or cave at the first moment may inevitably be the mother's womb. Is it a microscopic image of the human body we see, or an abstraction of plants or trees in nature? Or is it that we are expected to construct a narrative about both sources of life simultaneously? Is the newborn at the center of the painting, which is the trace of the artist or the nature that her ancestors tried to dominate? Thus, it can be said that at the last stage of science and technique, the functions of the female body are technically formulated and reduced to a biological detail that can be mastered.
Burçin Erdi's exhibition, which can be seen at Labirent Sanat, takes its name from the line "there is no gene for the human spirit" that Vincent uttered after his difficult times. Dualities such as birth-death, nature-human, human-animal, human-machine, good-bad, beautiful-ugly, mind-body, natural-artificial, which can be taken as a basis in the analysis of the film, are hidden concepts that affect Burçin Erdi's intellectual and production processes. With the exhibition "There is No Gene for The Human Spirit", we invite you to Labirent Sanat between 8 December 2022 – 14 January 2023, to reflect and discuss propositions about the future rather than seeking soothing and final answers to all these questions.
Burçin Erdi, “Doğa Ana | Mother Nature” exhibition brochure, 25 December 2018-18 January 2019, Cer Modern Hub – Ankara.
David Le Breton, “Bedene Veda” (Farewell to the Body), Translated by Aziz Ufuk Kılıç, Sel Publishing, Istanbul-October 2016.
Rollo May, “Yaratma Cesareti” (Courage to Create), Translated by Alper Oysal, Metis Publications, Istanbul-February 2015.