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What was Cleopatra’s Intention?


Curated by

Dicle Özlüses

Artists have been working with postcards since 1960’s. Most of these artists are connected with the Fluxus Movement and often used postcards or “mail art” in their works. The postcard was embodied as the movement’s engagement with the experimental art forms and was used as an expression of the discontentment against the elitism in the art world. Unlike traditional works of art, the postcard requires nothing more than a stamp for it to be seen around the world. This was the main motivation for many artists at that time. Although the pioneers of the movement were Dadaists like Marcel Duchamp, Kurt Schwitters and the Futurists, the first artist who posted small collages, poems and abstract drawings was Ray Johnson.

Postcards are a way of creating mail art, which is the focus of the exhibition “Cleopatra was thinking about politics, not art”. The exhibition presents 12 artists working with different mediums and their interpretation of postcards representing a month of the year. Some of them are presenting their own postcard collections. The exhibited works are not merely in postcard-form. Each artist has engaged individually with the concept of the postcard. Some of them are created out of clay, some are collectibles and some in form of video or sound. The works will also be designed as in real sized postcards and will be available for sale during the exhibition alongside the original artworks.

The exhibition’s title is coming from the ‘A Brief History of Mail Art, from Cleopatra to Miranda July’ article of Alexxa Gotthardt: “In 48 BC, Cleopatra created what some have dubbed the first piece of mail art. As part of a genius power-play aimed at aligning with Julius Caesar, the young queen smuggled herself into his quarters by wrapping her body in a carpet.

Upon being unfurled, she emerged at the Roman ruler’s feet. Cleopatra was thinking about politics, not art, when she devised the plan. But in the early 1960s, when a group of artists began using mail to disseminate their ideas, some of them adopted the wily Egyptian pharaoh as their movement’s unwitting progenitor. It was a fittingly dramatic origin story for the new “mail art” movement, with its irreverent energy, urge to forge connections, and love of surprise.”

The exhibiting artists are, Emin Çizenel, Hayati Evren, Hee Ju, Jaehung Park, Yağmur Bayhanlı, Sofia Iva, Hüseyin Özinal, Vedia Özokutan, Heeheady, Dize Kükrer and Eser Keçeci.

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