publication, 120 pages.
Ulufer Çelik & Alaa Abu Asad
Formally, as this project will be our first collaboration, and as both of us deal with political, social, urban, historical, and visual matters in our artistic and research-based practices; we are currently challenging the implications and comprehension of phonetically common words found in Turkish and vernacular (Palestinian) Arabic. Through engaging our knowledges in various fields of photography, translation, and architecture – Ulufer’s practice mainly deals with the urban and social, while Alaa’s questions the visual image and its various uses – we aspire to conduct this project through multidisciplinary transitions of the interpretations around the meaning.
Our aim is to analyse words’ meanings and relationships between them, through semantics, senses, aesthetic, while using visual and textual references. We comment on a common history as a repertoire of events from a non linear perspective.
Tercüman-ı Ahvâl is the first private newspaper published in Istanbul between 1860-1866, in Ottoman Turkish (using Arabic alphabet).
This project springs from a dialogue between us about identical words used in our daily spoken languages and dialects. We thus have started collecting these words and their meanings, listing them in an accumulated glossary which constitutes a basic resource and a methodology for our research, and which is to become a printed publication.
The oral information: the dialogues we have had are not mostly available within any scientific or academic registration, as most lists of Arabic-Turkish words are usually limited to their linguistic definitions only. Thus our personal impact on selecting, collecting, illustrating, and dealing with the words is of high importance. This has also allowed us to notice that some words share the same meanings and others have slightly different connotations. And that most of them define tangible objects which can be easily illustrated (like closet and envelope), while others are fictional, imaginable and sensible, and they seek alternative ways of seeing and illustrating (like space, time and ethics). Relying on this fact, we started to orientate our method and means how to visually express these words. We decided to actualise the project through two elements:
1. “Printed issue of concrete words”, this element deals with 100 words of tangible objects and figures. Each page includes the word and a minimal digital drawing of its meaning. The dimensions of this publication will be approximately 10x15 cm and it will have between 40-60 pages. The printing will be monochromatic on plane matt paper bound together.
2. ‘‘Filmed fiction of non-illustrative words’’, this element includes filmed sequences based on a conversation between us. We will convey a sense, a broader context and feeling of each of the non-illustrative words’ meaning, through recording sounds and voices, shooting various scenes in urban and natural milieus, and using archival material. The main two languages of the video will be Arabic and Turkish and it will be subtitled in English. The video raises questions regarding the essence of each word; what does it mean to translate space into moving and still images? What implications does it carry for each person? Questions highlight historical, political and social aspects, of both ourselves and the places we come from.
Finally, the idea of this project, as mentioned before, flows through a dialogue between us. Moreover, it began from a peership and a friendship which allowed to share experiences as a constitution of the political, and to use art as a tool for communication. As we already are in the midst of the process and development of this project: collecting words, looking for research material, and composing the publication and the video; we consider the residency period, its framework, and the tools and the space it provides, as a means to finalise the project and its two elements.
أذكر أنّك أخبرتني يوماً ما بمعنى اسمك بينما كنّا نحاول إيراد أكبر عدد ممكن من الكلمات التي تحمل ذات اللفظ والمعنى في كلتا اللغتين العربيّة والتركيّة. وأذكر أنّ لا معنى اسمك ولا إسمي كانا من ضمن هذه الكلمات، والصّراحة يا أولوفور أنّني قد نسيت معنى إسمك، لكنّني أذكر أنّك تحملين اسم جدّتك!
I remember that once you have told me what your name means while we were trying to recall a number of words which carry the same sound and meaning in Arabic and Turkish. But unfortunately, neither your name nor mine were amongst these words; and frankly I have forgotten what your name means. But I do remember that you told me that you carry your grandma’s name!
Excerpt from the dialogue script