Once upon a time in Kars, there had been a large and prosperous middle class, and, although it had been far removed from Ka’s own world, it had engaged in all the rituals Ka remembered from childhood: there had been great balls in those mansions, festivities that went on for days. Kars was an important station on the trade route to Georgia, Tabriz, and the Caucasus; and, being on the border between two defunct empires, the Ottoman and the Russian, the mountainous city also benefited from the protection of the standing armies each power had in turn placed here for that purpose. During the Ottoman period, many different peoples had made Kars their home. There had been a large Armenian community; it was now gone, but its thousand-year-old churches still stood in all their splendour. Many Persians fleeing first from the Mughal and later the Iranian armies had settled in Kars over the years. There were Greeks with roots going to the Byzantine and Pontus periods. There were also Georgians and Kurds and Circassians from various tribes.    … was here  is the outcome of two different encounters   that Huo Rf had during his journey to Ani and the city center of Kars. The first encounter   is the one he had with the magnificent architecture of Ani and history of the region. The visual language of Ani, shaped by tectonic forms and transformed by a harsh climate and natural disasters, is reflected in the reactive material of the ten copper plates installed on the walls of exhibition space. Details engraved on these plates emphasize selected parts of the historical structures that have been standing in Kars for centuries. By including and engaging the view eras well as the surroundings on its reflective surface, the work becomes a venue for confronting reality. The second encounter   appears in the form of graffiti, easily noticeable on the walls of deserted historical buildings. The copper plates focus on love stories, dates, poems, town names and much more that is engraved and written in remote corners and on various walls of the structures in Ani. This work highlights the man-made destruction that the city walls, churches and abbeys have gone through in time. Functioning as a means of communication, these graffiti also remind us of similar examples that we can see daily on streets, fountains, cisterns and other historical buildings. Familiar signs and symbols lead the viewer to unexpected conclusions, ultimately altering the state of the protagonist.  … was here  aims to shed light on the relationship between the desire to be seen and heard, the urge to go back and find one’s own trace on the walls, and the unrestrainable vandalizing motive.   The silence of snow, thought the man sitting just behind the bus driver. If this were the beginning of a poem, he would have called what he felt inside him ‘the silence of snow’.   Istanbul to Kars on a plane, then to Ani near the Armenian border by car, on to Lake Çıldır in Ardahan, before going back to Ankara on a train…  ... was here  is also a travel journal. Accompanying the copper plates are photographs, sometimes taken behind train windows, depicting the interior and exteriors of spaces in a non-linear narrative. The series reveals the geographical landscapes of the journey and the images engraved on the copper plates. While shots of frozen Lake Çıldır, Kars and Ani under snow present different states of the region’s harsh climate, photos of the deserted villages of Aşkale and flooded neighborhoods of Iliç bear witness to particular periods in history. As loud and crowded as the copper plates are, photographs of the journey seem to have no trace of life at all.  1- Orhan Pamuk,  Snow , trans. Maureen Freely (London: Faber&Faber, 2005), 19-20.  2- Orhan Pamuk,  Snow , trans. Maureen Freely (London: Faber&Faber, 2005), 3.  Merve Elveren
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  Archeologic Texture of a City's Reflections   1.   "The New Life" a novel by Orhan Pamuk, starts with a striking sentence : ''I read a book one day and my whole life was changed.'' . This sentence gives an essence of protagonist's frame of mind. However, the author creates strong ideas while shifting the structure of text. The change through reading evolves into a visual logic creation. Linguistic structures of classic novel give way to a chain of reversed images. Literary activity engages with visuals in the sentences.  " The New Life" s first sentence is about the relation between the heterogeneity of the novel and another kind of narrative. Similarly, in Flaubert's  "Madame Bovary" , the chapters which depict protagonist Emma Bovary falling in love are composed of much more than just words.  Even the drops of water in the sun are changed through love and they emerge in other ways in Emma's gaze. The author describes a micro situation and the whole book is a collection of these micro events in Emma Bovary's life. As in the literary narratives I mentioned, photography can reflect the engagement of an expression regime with other design medium.  The apparent clarity and immediacy are transformed from the inside into a thoughtful image. Now, the force of a captured frame tells the story. The visible materials become a sharp tool form. This introduction has been made regarding the latest solo show of Huo Rf,  "Was Here''.   The artist's travels and his relationship with everyday objects are storified in the exhibition. In the artist book accompanying the exhibition, there are three texts from Merve Elveren, Pınar Öğrenci and Merve Akar Akgün other than the photographs. Merve Akar Akgün''s text is a sociologic analysis of the works with an aesthetical point of view. Merve Elveren archeologically portraits the geographical elements of the photographs with a reference to Orhan Pamuk novel,  'Snow' . Pınar Öğrenci, on the other hand, takes the reader to a intratextual journey. Personal experiences, historical narratives and city depictions develop the text of Öğrenci.  2. Although it may seem easy to look at a photograph, there is nothing to say fort he viewer as the image is directly obtained through a device. The form is obvious and gaze is limited. However, some works that we see turns everything upside down and seeing turns into a lost story right in the usual form. In the simplest imagery we encounter forces that are moving. Right at that moment, literary form is engaged with a visual one.   The photographs in the exhibition are the outcome of a trip that Huo Rf took to city of Ani, Kars. As the city geographically consists of ruined places and mountainous settlements; this becomes the inspiration for the artist. The city has a deep historical structure from the Kingdom of Armenia to the Byzantine period and then to the Seljuk Empire and the Ottoman Empire. Thus, in the light of the studies, the question of memory comes into question. The question is; how is a city of historical narratives portrayed in the exhibition?  Twenty seven photographs of the city are screened on a wall with intervals of eight seconds. The fact that photographs are reflected through a projector, makes the issue less personal.  Geographical landscapes, ruins from ancient settlements belong to the collective memory of mankind. In this respect, Pınar Öğrenci's experimental text contribute a lot to the exhibition, as everyone takes their share of the initiative created for the common. Stories and long-lasting novels that are based on a partnership perspective turn into something of everyone's.  3. We witness the art works of a trip that are shaped with both archeological and daily life.  In one of the two branches of the exhibition, there is a projected series of photos and on the other, excavated copper plates.  As the material for the works is copper which is known to rust with time, the art works naturally gain a delicate and vulnerable form during the exhibition.  Huo Rf grasps that detail and carves the wall writings and grafittis he saw in Kars on the copper plates. Wall writings carved on copper look like Ancient Egyptian caly tablets and even if they remain and rust, carvings and writings on them are preserved.   "Was Here" is mainly about a micro history writing. The artist records the issue of nomadism in the city and thus opens the door to different literary narratives. History is the realm of the deep fields that contain reality in the context of both fiction and the flow of a narrative pattern. It can not be written just by kings, emperors or dictators. The bravery of Huo Rf in carving the city's historic memory is more than inspirational. At this point, we can ask ourselves a second question: Does the effect of an exhibition with archaeological resonances also turn into a valuable excavation?  Ilker Cihan Biner, published at Art Unlimited Magazine Nov-Dec Issue 2018
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