Review /

Erdem Taşdelen NON / Istanbul

There is a tidal line between resistance and adaptation that we are all confronted with  from childhood on. We always choose our path in life according to our reactions, victories and failures. Erdem Taşdelen’s artistic inquiry takes place in a similar zone: in “A Petition of the Left Hand” he looks at the stories of left-handed people.

Taşdelen’s solo exhibition at NON displays his extensive research on left-handedness as a socio-historical phenomenon. The exhibition is composed of various elements and media, including a two-channel video, a sculpture, a series of drawings, some found objects and an artist book that gathers 142 thought-provoking quotations on the subject from a wide range of famous individuals. Parallel to the exhibition, the artist hosted a performative lunch, during which he asked all 120 guests to eat with their left hands only. Meanwhile he discussed the phenomenon of left-handedness in connection with other similarly mundane pressures in life. Taşdelen also performed a lecture at ArtInternational on the scientific and sociological sources of left-handedness and its relationship to language as a point of departure. In this lecture, he explored connections between race, gender, sexuality, ability and class.

Taşdelen takes a different approach with this exhibition; although the artist usually begins his projects by locating “himself” as the center of his artistic research, this time he observes, witnesses, collects, documents and narrates. Like his previous work, however, he looks at how self-expression is a form of learned behavior; to put it in his own words: “We all ‘perform’ our selves with the cultural codes we’ve learned.” Therefore, “A Petition of the Left Hand” as a body of research primarily questions our behaviors under societal pressure.

By taking the current political and social climate of Turkey into consideration, such an exhibition by a Turkish artist based in Vancouver stands out as a subtle but timely act that suggests multiple forms of resistance, acceptance and pressure that all start at the level of the individual.

by Basak Senova