The architecture of our memory has a problematic structure hanging between reminiscence and oblivion. Remembered places and things are often projections of controversial remarks. The images that are remembered in parts often acquire an event quality and narrative status in the trace of the general propositions on which the individual’s passion for explanation is based. Areas such as history, one of which the memory is in relation with, assert that the events do not happen randomly out of coincidence, but they try to connect them to science instead of arts with presumptions based on deductive reasoning. Whereas it is forgotten that it is necessary to underline that even in the writing of the narrative by examining a large number of facts, sometimes the narrative and the presumptions go hand in hand. Art does not force the images that are remembered and the narrative establish with them to be in order. In this way, it has the power to show us this controversial side of memory in which the narrative and the presumptions are together. In “Memorabilia”, Can İncekara draws the viewers’ attention into this controversial area of memory with the narrative he created from the things worth remembering. Moving on from his personal memory, he actually offers a narrative that can be registered as a story that is common for many people. He transforms the memories about his grandmother into fragments of our own memory. Memorabilia is a word that is used for commemorative objects about activities/institutions which are historically significant, which are worth remembering. In this respect, it actually reconstructs the nostalgic – by glorifying an image that belongs to the personal memory of anyone without any historical significance- the forgotten, as our common story.
By putting an image from the past that could belong to anyone into “memorabilia”, he underlines the imperfect process of reminiscence. This view, which sometimes focuses on the curtains of the balcony, or sometimes on a wall outlet, reveals the ironic aspects of the longing for a remanufactured recent history. The choice of objects that are sufficiently substantial for individual feelings of longing and melancholy, are resolved in the common memory together with the emphasis on “memorabilia”. Thus, the objects of the past enter the world of phenomena of our daily lives. When we consider this as the reconstruction of the meaning of the past, the distinction between the part of it that relies on nostalgia and the part of it that relies on criticism can be seen much more clearly.
The concept of nostalgia comes from the word stems of ”nostos“ and ”algos“. ”Nostos” defines the return of the protagonist of the Odyssey of Homer back to his home/homeland. The word “algos” which means pain, or “Algae” in ancient Greek mythology, who according to Hesiod is the daughter of Eris, the Greek goddess of strife and discord who represents agony. In order to understand and shape the nature and unconscious processes of longing that Nostalgia represents, Svetlana Boym uses these two origins of the notion. According to Boym, nostalgia has two separate stops; re-founding nostalgia and intellectual nostalgia. The reason I take advantage of Boym’s approach while looking at İncekara’s paintings is that Boym does not see the concept only as an inner space of the individual’s inner psyche. It suggests re-founding nostalgia and intellectual nostalgia to decipher the interrelationship between individual reminiscence and collective reminiscence.
According to Boym, “in re-founding nostalgia, the emphasis is on nostos and it promises to rebuild the lost house and close the gaps in memory. Intellectual nostalgia however, focuses on algia, longing and loss, and the imperfect processes of reminiscence”. The approaches of the first think that it is about reality without considering them being nostalgic and lose the critical distance and delve into emotion. Intellectual nostalgia however, deals with “the ruins and rust of time and history, within the dream of another place and time”. Intellectual nostalgia, turns space into time by using its critical approach, “by delaying returning home for ever”, using its individual narrative and the fragmented moments of memory. According to Boym, “intellectual nostalgia can be ironic and humorous”. The fragments of memory of İncekara contain data on the individual narrative, and they gain an ironic content as in the name of the exhibition. If we set off with his painting “To home and…”, we can infer that while his personal relationship with the grandmother has no historical reference, it can be turned into historically and materially valuable collection pieces by the artist by being called “memorabilia”. The pictorial image describes something of a material and periodic value accumulated in the historical process, if not by its very nature. For this reason, the medium selected to convey the memory fragments regarding a personal narrative and the meticulous technique of the artist support this approach. Watercolor is a medium that does can not speak loudly but it still has its own unique space due to its features such as its uncontrollable nature, very fast drying, the differences of wet and dry color, and its transparent and visible appearance. It has a very suitable structure for conveying the faint images of the past.
The architecture of memory operates in two ways in “Memorabilia”. The art of memory acts in line with architecture. The metaphor of a house is based on a story quoted by Frances Yates from Cicero. Cicero mentions Greek poet Simonides’ use of architecture to identify the people inside a collapsed house. The relationship between reminiscence and spatialization is the starting point of the art of memory. Mnemo (the remembering technique), relies on “loci et imagines”, the relationship between the space and image, that is, remembering the place first and then the images. To recall the rooms of the house first and then to recall the images of those rooms or memorize it that way.
The things that are worth remembering in Memorabilia of İncekara are images of various rooms of which he presents to the viewers. The lace cover over the coffee table, the flower inside the pot, wooden carved triple seats, ornamented wall socket, the frosted glass of the room, the tarp covering the balcony railings take us into the past. The material and shape used in the construction of the object takes us to a past date. The boundary between the mundaneness of the chosen objects in their period and the definition of them today decodes the relationship between individual reminiscence and collective reminiscence. The consciously left space between the paintings in the exhibition also transforms this imaginary place / house into a real one. The images chosen from the artist’s grandmother’s house, which belong to the personal story of the artist, were placed at wide intervals to trigger another place and memory for each viewer. Thus, the memorabilia, which the name of the exhibition indicates, allows the individual (the precious thing that the individual remembers) to be transformed into the collective (the valuable thing that is remembered collectively).
It is possible to see the history as a whole picture which can also be achieved in the form of individual images. In this way, intellectual nostalgia can be used to evaluate the past also keeping the historic distance to it. Thus, instead of glorifying the past with pure emotion, we also have the opportunity to look critically at the objects of memory. The tension of the fabric tarp, which is carefully fit to the ornamental balcony railings, can allow us to have a longing for the past with irony and humor, which we sometimes glorify a little bit too much.