- A Snapshot of Objectivity Public Reconstruction of TV News in Collaboration with the Artist
We don't see things as they are; we see them as we are.Anais Nin
On a cold and wet January evening in 2007, the pedestrians of a busy street in central Istanbul couldn't help but notice a bright TV monitor behind the display window of a corner shop. Those who approached to take a closer look could also hear the audio that was being fed to the street through a loudspeaker neatly placed on the windowsill. It must have been the news hour since the silver screen reflected that familiar image of a news studio, a trademark of our mass media-molded present reality. The high-tech minimalist decoration in the background, the anchorman with his formal dressing style and his semi-authoritarian reassuring face, and his neat table with almost nothing on it were all properly framed within the respectful medium close-up the studio's pivot camera captured. Even if you could not tell which network it was and could probably not recognize the news reader either, it didn't really matter. The image was a perfect stereotype of contemporary news broadcasting, and the audio echoed with that typical authoritative pitch in the anchorman's voice, gently convincing the audience that what they were hearing was truth, nothing but the objectivetruth.
Although everything looked like news-business as usual on a local TV channel, listening to the audio for a while you could eventually notice that something extraordinary was going on. Now and then a piece in the news stream would sound out of place, raising serious uncertainty whether the program on air was really the seven o'clock news or some kind of a not-so-amusing stand-up show. If you then ventured to step inside the shop, which was divided into two separate rooms, you would see in the first room a small crowd of other curious passersby like yourself, and observe that many of them were engaged in some kind of anxious writing. You would note that resting on a desk in a corner were blank sheets of paper with various news headlines pre-printed at the top. If you asked what was going on, you would then be told that if you felt like it you [End Page 78]could pick up a sheet with the headline of your choice, and start jotting down your own version of the story in the empty space below. Those news stories that have just been freshly made in this pseudonews center were then being fed into the next room, which was set up like the news studio of a modest TV channel, and read there in front of a camera by a professional news reader. It was this very scene of news reading that was being broadcasted live on the TV screen behind the display window on the street.
The news center and studio, which presented its street audience with some unusual news broadcasting on that winter evening, were the setup for Anlik Görüntü/Snapshot, a performative project by the Turkish artist Isil Egrikavuk. Her performance took place between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m. on January 7, 2007 at PIST///Interdisciplinary Project Space, in Istanbul. The live news broadcast was recorded on tape and replayed on a TV monitor at PIST/// storefront continuously for three weeks following the performance. With the collaboration of her American audiences, Egrikavuk repeated the same performance at Chicago Cultural Center on November 13, 2007, and at UCLA New Wight Gallery in Los Angeles on September 25, 2008. Born in Istanbul in 1980, Isil Egrikavuk is an acclaimed member of the young generation of Turkish artists. Being a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she lives in Istanbul and is currently an instructor in the Visual Communication Department of Istanbul Bilgi University, and also in the Western Languages and Literature Department of Istanbul Bogazici University. In Egrikavuk's own...