Fast and Faster
Amira Akbıyıkoğlu

Fast and Furi­ous Faster


What you will read in this brief text rather serves as a ten­ta­tive essay. It could also be con­sid­ered as a loose out­line to detect the points in com­mon between the move­ment that occurs in the videos pro­duced by the artist Burak Kaba­dayı for the exhi­bi­tion Sta­t­ic Shifts, Dynam­ic Rifts and the dance prac­tice of the “action archi­tect” Mehmet Sander. My points of ref­er­ence will be Sander’s dance man­i­festo (1990) and his speech[1] at the South­ern Cal­i­for­nia Insti­tute of Archi­tec­ture (1994). While you leave AVTO with this book­let, I hope to tick­le your curios­i­ty about Mehmet Sander —whose name you might have heard for the first time— watch his videos on YouTube as soon as you get the chance, and refer back to Burak’s works. In this way, I also hope to extend the lifes­pan of the exhibition.

When Burak invit­ed me to con­tribute to this exhi­bi­tion with an essay, the first thing that crossed my mind was fig­ure skat­ing and spins, whose cham­pi­onships I was once fol­low­ing day and night. But the neces­si­ty for skaters to emo­tion­al­ly reflect the chore­og­ra­phy and music, or the lyri­cal tone of the spec­ta­cle did­n’t seem to match an auto show and its sound­scape. Where­as Sander, who asso­ciates his works rather with archi­tec­ture and physics than per­for­mance, did not use music in his chore­o­gra­phies and was not inter­est­ed in con­vey­ing emo­tions. Ded­i­cat­ing his prac­tice to the chore­og­ra­phy of the neg­a­tive space, the artist con­sid­ers dance in its most reduced form as the employ­ment of the human body with­in space under the laws of physics. The (dis­tant) affin­i­ty between Sander’s actions and drifter’s dri­ving tech­niques in Kabadayı’s videos is based on three basic ele­ments, which they exam­ine through phys­i­cal forces such as speed, col­li­sion, resis­tance, iner­tia (inac­tion): move­ment, space and time. And there is no hier­ar­chy between these three con­stituents, all have an equal share in the mak­ing of a per­for­ma­tive moment.

Found­ing his dance com­pa­ny in 1990 in the Unit­ed States, Mehmet Sander takes up the max­i­mum speed as he mounts his actions. He tries to emu­late a bul­let that comes out of a bar­rel and pierces the tar­get, for a human body to pierce the space. There­fore he occa­sion­al­ly takes his dancers to the shoot­ing range for tar­get prac­tice. “Can you go through a wall? Can you explode phys­i­cal­ly? Can you run in two oppo­site direc­tions at the same time? Can you fall upwards? Can you fall upwards and down­wards at the same time? When you try it, even if you prove your­self wrong, then there is the idea of ​​new move­ment and space occu­pa­tion.”[2]

His man­i­festo is slant­ed towards non-stop, unin­ter­rupt­ed move­ment: From the com­mence­ment of the dance piece to its con­clu­sion, the dancers nev­er cease move­ment unless their range of motion is imped­ed by phys­i­cal forces such as the con­fine­ment of space or the impact against a wall or oth­er dancers. He lays out his inter­est not in the way his body cov­ers a dis­tance, but in its trans­for­ma­tion into a line and a space. Sim­i­lar­ly, Burak’s videos reg­is­ter the move­ments of vehi­cles that are not intend­ed to get from point A to point B.

The move­ment of a car con­stant­ly spin­ning around the same cen­ter is rem­i­nis­cent of Sander’s solo per­for­mance Sin­gle Space (1992). A sin­gle car ver­sus a sin­gle dancer, a vehi­cle enact­ing the move­ment or a space lim­it­ed by human height and unin­ter­rupt­ed move­ment. Sander attach­es impor­tance to the eco­nom­ic use of spaces in which he pro­duces and per­forms his actions: “Space is how you design, define, and con­fine it.” The chore­og­ra­phy of this per­for­mance is devel­oped through the cycli­cal rota­tion of a tele­vi­sion screen. He turns the tele­vi­sion side­ways while watch­ing the video record of the rehearsal, which serves as a guide for the per­for­mance. He records him­self and flips the screen side­ways to re-enact his mov­ing image. The per­for­mance con­sists of four sequen­tial iter­a­tions of this act.

In anoth­er video in the exhi­bi­tion that takes place at AVTO, we see a tow truck that dis­ap­pears as it moves towards the hori­zon and a car that stays still by skid­ding on it. İzafiyet [Rel­a­tiv­i­ty], per­formed by Sander in Copen­hagen in 1996 has a sim­i­lar lay­out. Four dancers mov­ing on top of a truck on a racetrack.

Yet Sander even­tu­al­ly admits that he finds it dull just to design duets with dancers. Is it pos­si­ble to pre­vent peo­ple from being con­strained by one anoth­er’s veloc­i­ty while mak­ing them inter­act with faster mov­ing objects? He con­cludes his speech at the insti­tute by address­ing his work Chore­og­ra­phy With Faster Mov­ing Objects, which is based upon this ques­tion. It just so hap­pens that by faster mov­ing objects he means cars accel­er­at­ing from thir­ty miles to forty miles per hour. This unre­al­ized work con­sists of five duets in which dancers on a scaf­fold would fall onto the speed­ing cars.

In short, both Sander and Kaba­dayı, who would most like­ly be acquaint­ed with each oth­er through this brief text, attempt to probe beyond sci­en­tif­ic knowl­edge about the pow­er of phys­i­cal action through their works. Such inquiries source from the exe­cu­tion of chal­leng­ing actions with­in var­i­ous lim­its, and bear the poten­tial of gen­er­at­ing an infi­nite array of visu­al possibilities.




[1] Mehmet Sander’s speech at the South­ern Cal­i­for­nia Insti­tute of Archi­tec­ture (1994) is avail­able on YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGKxyz1Ea7s

[2] The pas­sages in dou­ble quotes are excerpts from the artist’s speech at the South­ern Cal­i­for­nia Insti­tute of Archi­tec­ture, and the pas­sages in ital­ics are excerpts from his dance man­i­festo (1990).