/A day in Paradise

/Heaven /Paradise /Utopia | Cennet /Ütopya (Turkish)

Today we’re confronted with utopic demands, such as ideal society, happiness and equality, which might sometimes be achievable in theory but not in practice. We can trace the history of utopia back to Platon. Yet, we have become familiar with the concept of “envisioning the future” with the Industrial Revolution. This is the period that shines out in the short history of man’s victory after his struggle with nature.

When I am thinking about paintings, the words that I recall most are from Baudelaire;

“As cannons roar, arms and legs fly over…moans of victims meld with yells of the ones who sacrify…Here it is humanity on pursuit of happiness.”[1]

Chaotic atmosphere of the 19th century, revolutions, romanticism, decadents, realists, naturalists, symbolists and finally Modernism.

The rise of humanity after the industrial revolution and man’s dominion over nature altered daily life and future prospects permanently. Prospect of human upon nature as the source of manifestation of god, divine knowledge and inevitable endings and beginnings changed as well.

With the enlightenment, domination of nature over art became stronger as science, instead of theology, started to explain it. Nature has been the foundation of truth, morality and art. Source of every type of knowledge, solution to every kind of matter; like beautiful, ugly, good, bad, wrong and right could be found in nature. This atmosphere was being replaced by urban ideas and feelings springing in city culture.

According to Baudelaire if nature is right, good and beautiful, art is wrong, bad and ugly. Scene of the modern art is not nature, it is the metropolis; metropolis is not “genuine” as opposed to nature.

It is fake and artificial. It is not godlike. It is evil. Its heroes are cursed, mean and ugly. If nature is the paradise, metropolis is an inferno. This compliment to metropolis and metropolitan life was a new understanding of the “ideal”, rather than a reaction to former interpretations of “virtue”. Lame and monotonous nature started to be seen as cruel torture to sophisticated souls. At this point, it is very important for a human to assume creator adjective from god to himself and his lust for artistic work. Literally human produces its own nature. There will be prosperity in the new world, machines will ease life, everybody will be happy in this paradise on earth. Even in a secular life style, the search for heaven continues. Although there is no heaven after death, it can be found when alive.

However, this new utopic dream didn’t give what is expected. Utopia had never been possible in essence anyways. Today we can’t achieve the perfection in our imagination, even after we have built “nature”, of which we are the masters again and again. Anytime we try to reproduce it, we only exploit it as resource but can’t go even one step further from the inner city gardens. Our passion for work of art has faded. Now what we plan as salvation instead of future is just a projection of tomorrow as a characteristic of utopia.

Considering that even hitech designs like artificial intelligence etc. don’t guarantee happy endings in science fiction, we can assume that we have come to an end in believing in the depiction of humanity as man moving away from nature.

This lack of belief in technology and nature rebuilt by human hand triggered increased attention towards raw and untouched nature. Rightful reasons are pursued variably through religious beliefs, sometimes in mysticism and science. However, everything is for salvation. To me, a depression is ongoing at the moment. This is similar to the one unique to that era experienced by the decadents of 19th century. In this sense, child bearing with natural methods, nudism, alternative medicine and other alternatives in favor of nature have been gaining popularity for a long time.

To me ‘nature’ is a metaphor for heaven, paradise on earth, utopia, future visualisation and salvation. The metaphor of ‘that place’ where human was created from mud confronts mud again, where he defined his existence with new arguments, the environment where he met unexpected by having ideas without having wisdom, where he pursued the impossible, the metaphor of place where he is very optimistic for no reason.

As for my work, I can say it is a part of ignorance that I have pinpointed. It represents a world of imagination with lack of knowledge, claiming to be natural due to thinking habits. It is no more than imitation but also a reconstruction of a utopic world, which is peaceful with its reality. An interpretation of impossible expectation from nature where there are no real relations and contacts beyond landscape; thoughts regarding promised but empty lands to humanity after the judgment day; the emptiness which he will take his first step; fictional but for not being real yet; a paradise without human; the strangeness of faith upon a place which was believed to be created for ‘human’ without any human on it.

Huri Kiriş
İstanbul, 2013

[1] Charles Baudelaire, Notes for a Poem