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Bedrooms in excess: feminist strategies used by Tracey Emin and Semiha Berksoy.

Two years apart, the British artist Tracey Emin and Turkish artist and opera singer Semiha Berksoy exhibited their bedrooms at internationally acclaimed galleries. (1) Both displays were personal statements with intimate biographical connections. Emin is known to have survived a deprived childhood ridden in misery and poverty in a small English town. Her discontinuous education and broken family life was further marred by instances of violent sex and alcoholism. (2) Yet she received a formal art education in the 1980s and has been recognized as a leading artist since the 1990s. (3) Her artwork predominantly consists of autobiographical elements and addresses sexually loaded themes in very personal and unusual ways. Berksoy, on the other hand, was born to an educated Istanbul family. She was brought up in the modernist enthusiasm of the early years of the Turkish Republic and was in close contact with the leading Turkish intellectuals of the time. (4) Also raised in a broken family due to the death of her mother at a young age, Berksoy completed her art and music education in Istanbul and Berlin. Broadly acknowledged as the first female Turkish opera singer, she performed internationally at renowned opera stages including Berlin, Porto and New York. (5) Love, death and sex appear as recurrent themes in her paintings.


In 1998, at Sagacho Exhibition Hall, Tokyo, Tracey Emin (b. 1963) exhibited her bedroom (Fig. 1 and Pl. 10) as it was when she remained there for several days due to a depression caused by relationship problems. The installation included a mattressed bed frame, wrinkled and stained bed sheets and pillows. Spread across the mattress and the carpet were dirty stockings, a towel, vodka bottles, slippers, underwear with menstrual stains, cigarette butts, birth control pills, a used condom, Polaroid portraits, and a white stuffed toy.

At the Bonn Museum's Millennium 2000 exhibition, Semiha Berksoy (1910-2004) exhibited her bedroom (1994; Fig. 2 and Pl. 11) that she used in the rear of her Istanbul apartment. The room was filled with objects accumulated throughout her colorful life, including her bed and piano, gifts received over the years, her paintings, eccentric clothes of her own design, jewelry, glamorous hats, and memorabilia including earth from the Moscow grave of the renowned Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet, with whom she once had a love affair..

These two bedroom displays are highly provocative at a number of levels. First, it is simply not commonplace to enter into the bedroom of someone you don't know. Furthermore, as bedrooms of single women, these spaces do not fit the standard image of the master bedroom in the idealized bourgeois family home. This public image, with its neatly made bed, creaseless sheets, and matching furniture contains no trace of sexuality or the materiality of the body; rather, it suppresses the private reality of the space that it represents. It is the image of the master, indeed, where discipline and control dominate. The bedrooms of Emin and Berksoy are messy, full of "stuff" that is too personal to be offered to the public gaze. Excess is the term that immediately comes to mind.

Excess is a theoretical term that is associated with the unassimilatable residue that finds no stable place in orderly systems. The cultural theorist Elizabeth Grosz states that, often associated with the feminine, this residue "is not simply superadded but also undermines and problematizes" the system in question. (6) Indeed, Emin's and Berksoy's excessive settings critically exploit the cultural conventions that separate the public from the private and art from life. They also undermine the socially constructed duality between the public image of the master bedroom and the private reality of the lived space. By bringing the messiness of everyday life out of the closet, these artists make powerful statements about the fragility of the lines that divide art from life and public from private.


But how alike are these displays beyond their similarities in authorship and subject matter? With all its messiness, Emin's bed lies in the midst of a conventional and rather sterile museum setting. As such, it has the characteristic of an object to be looked at. Berksoy, on the other hand, invites us to a separate space that one enters through the larger exhibition area. Her bed-space is less to be looked at than to be dwelled in. Indeed, Berksoy's bed cannot be isolated from its spatial surroundings. Here the hardness of the walls is mitigated by the excessive amount of paintings and fabric, and somewhat dematerialized by the dramatic light effect produced by a bedside lamp. Another source of difference is the color scheme of the two displays. While Emin's is predominantly white, with the exception of the blue rug and the brown bedside table, Berksoy's overflows with colors of every tone and shade. Finally, the contents of these settings are clearly quite different in nature.

As far as what to make of these differences between Emin's and Berksoy's bedroom displays, I find Grosz's emphasis on two different identifications of excess very helpful. Associating both with femininity, and tracing their origins to the work of Georges Bataille and Luce Irigaray, respectively, Grosz relates excess to the excremental on one side, and to the plenitude of the maternal-feminine on the other. (7) In understanding the former, excess involves the destruction of system, order, and authority. It can be represented in bestiality and bodily waste. This conceptualization evokes the psychoanalytical approach to feminism, where femininity is associated with wounds, blood, loss, and castration, i.e., lack. (8) For the latter meaning, femininity points to an irreducible element that cannot be exhausted in the masculine and the patriarchal. It is conceptualized as a means of transition from one existence to another and is symbolized as plenitude rather than lack. This understanding relates to the feminist interpretations of the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, which contests the binary opposition of presence vs. lack, and celebrates difference as multiplicity. (9)

These two approaches have radically different implications for feminist thinking and its artistic manifestations. While the former (excremental) approach understands desire on the basis of lack and subjectivity in dualist terms, the latter (excess of femininity) emphasizes the positivity and performability of desire and the power of the feminine to redefine the symbolic. (10) I contend that the key to understanding the significance of the difference between the works of Emin and Berksoy lies in the two different conceptualizations of excess.

Before expanding on the theoretical implications of the two bedroom displays, an explanation of the larger context of Emin's and Berksoy's work in relation to subjectivity and language is in order. Almost every work of these artists bears traces of their intimate relationship to their bodies. Besides their own bedrooms, their artistic repertoire includes photography, self-portraits, sounds, and words; yet their work ranges beyond the contained and often unproductive boundaries of self-indulgence.



In one of her most forceful works (2000; Fig. 3), Emin is frontally photographed sitting on a bare floor that is sprinkled with banknotes and coins. Head bent down, she holds a handful of the banknotes against her body between her naked legs that are spread wide apart. The title, I've Got It All, adds both power and irony to the image, which is an explicit critique of the value of femininity in the patriarchal symbolic order.

Words are an inseparable component of Emin's work. The installation that brought her to fame, Everyone I have Ever Slept With (1995; Fig. 4), is a tent appliqued with 102 embroidered names of the people the artist had slept with. "Sleeping with" is a term commonly associated with sex. Knowing Emin's self-declared promiscuous background, the title is highly suggestive. However, as the artist explains, "Some I'd had a shag with in bed or against a wall some I had just slept with, like my grandma. I used to lay in her bed and hold her hand. We used to listen to the radio together and nod off to sleep. You don't do that with someone you don't love and don't care about." (11) Besides past lovers, the names on the tent include friends, family, drinking partners and two numbered fetuses. With Emin's explanation, the immediate identification of "sleeping with" and sex is unsettled at once. The viewer's perceptual frame begins to wander freely across the signifying chain that crosses over a range of delicate implications of the terms sex, intimacy, love, and care.

Much of Emin's work contains written inscriptions that relate to her thoughts and feelings. Frequently, these are expressed as framed neon signs or embroidered panels. The signs include such phrases as, "You Forgot to Kiss my Soul" (2001), "I KNOW [begin strikethrough] I KNOW [end strikethrough] I KNOW" (2007), and "Some Crazy Fucked Up Dog Like Hell; That's How it Feels to Live without LOVE" (2009). In Everyone I have Ever Slept With, the phrase, "With myself, always myself, never forgetting" is embroidered on the floor of the tent. At first sight, the repetitive assertion of selfhood in words can be linked to the poststructuralist contention that the subject is produced by and within the signifying chain. At that level, Emin's work manifests a continuous effort to confirm her subjectivity in the symbolic realm. However, Emin also consistently reminds her audience that any identity category is always already based on lack, and that the feminine subject has limited agency in the symbolic realm. She does this not only by virtue of her gender, but also by a number of strategic moves embedded in the works themselves.

In terms of content, Emin's words and phrases invariably indicate a deeply felt lack. Her aphorisms are about absences. They point to needs, desires, and memories. Even the undeniably assertive tone of "I KNOW [begin strikethrough] I KNOW [end strikethrough] I KNOW" is undermined by the line that strikes through the middle phrase. Furthermore, many of her neon signs are written in pink and/or inscribed in heart-shaped frames, both assigned by popular culture to the feminine realm. Hence their use leaves little doubt about the gender of the enunciation. Emin's use of embroidery, a typically feminine occupation, plays a similar role. Finally, the artist is well known for her spelling mistakes, which she generously incorporates into her artwork. These are inadvertent reminders that the symbolic realm can never adequately represent feminine subjectivity and that woman's representation is always already incomplete. In Emin's work femininity is clearly associated with loss.

If words are inseparable components of Emin's work, Berksoy's world consists of music--for her, a metaphor for life--and colors. Reportedly, every day she would sit at her piano and say, "I still have a voice, so I am still alive," and once said, "I sounded C; I conquered death." (12) Wondering and wandering at the threshold of life and death, language, and music, Berksoy mobilized the power of song both literally as a singer and metaphorically as a way of life.

It is interesting that the contemporary philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari privilege music as the ultimate force of deterritorialization--a term they associate with undoing established structures and decoding systems that organize our bodies, identities, and words. Opposing music to words, they say that "music is a deterritorialization of the voice, which becomes less and less tied to language, just as painting is a deterritorialization of the face." (13) Following their line, Elizabeth Grosz has stated that music is giving sound to what has not been heard before. (14) These philosophers argue that music generates new sites of becoming and leads to the opening up and exploration of the cosmic plenitude, which cannot be limited to known systems, structures, and concepts. My own reading of most of Berksoy's work is as a musical celebration of alternative worlds, the starting point of which is her own body and life.

Berksoy's many self-portraits are generally inscribed by a dark horizontal line that cuts across the canvas. She calls this "the line of fate," which represents for her the boundary between life and death. (15) In The Inevitable Line of Fate (1972; Fig. 5), for example, the head and the body are separated by a thick black line, below which a disembodied hand, also outlined in black, reaches upward. The tip of the third finger touches the line strategically where it meets the throat. These two elements, the line and the hand, are perceived at an autonomous plane layered over the female figure. It is as if they are imposed from elsewhere and not inherent to the integrity of the body. The backgrounds for the head and the body are rendered in blue and brown, respectively--while the head hovers in the sky, the naked body is buried in the earth. The facial expression appears perplexed and the body posture is stiff. Here the life / death, head / body equation can be effortlessly extended to such other binary divides as symbolic/real and language/ unrepresentable. The figure of woman's body as the unrepresentable/death gestures towards psychoanalytical theory's association of the feminine with death. (16)

On one level, The Inevitable Line of Fate is similar to Emin's I've Got It All, as it lends itself to be read as a critique of the place of women in the symbolic realm. However, it only acts as a foil to most of Berksoy's work, which needs to be read against other auto-portraits that undermine the inevitability in question and point to alternative modes of existence. (17) In fact, Berksoy plays with "the line of fate," multiplying and/or segmenting it and having it cross the canvas at different levels in a large number of her self-portraits. For example, in an untitled self-portrait, the line of fate hovers above the head (1972; Fig. 6). Although its trace is still evident in the light and dark colors that again form alternative backgrounds to the head and the body, the general tone of this painting is very different. Here a lively body, almost perceived as dancing, is partially veiled by a semi-transparent, colorful outfit. The breasts and the genitals are joyfully exaggerated, and the face bears a subtle smile. It is tempting to read this painting as a celebration of relief from the burden of the line of fate as a deadly blow to feminine subjectivity.

Unlike Emin's work, which is about the limits of feminine agency in the symbolic realm where femininity can only be represented as lack, Berksoy's is a manifestation of the plenitude that is repressed by the symbolic. As the untitled self-portrait shows, once the line of fate is lifted off of woman's neckline, her subjectivity comes alive in all its fullness. For Berksoy, femininity predominantly points to an irreducible and inexhaustible element that exceeds the symbolic realm.

Such difference between the two artists' work is most evident in their bedroom displays, in the way that each has been turned into a gallery/museum piece. Emin's bed and the objects that surround it were not the result of a self-conscious act of design but rather the by-products of an excessive lifestyle burdened with depression, alcohol, and relationship problems. Once taken out of the gallery context, Emin's is simply a dirty, untidy bed. In the gallery setting, the wasteful excess of everyday life is turned into public spectacle. Berksoy's display is quite the opposite. With her flamboyant personality and lively social presence, Berksoy can be said to have lived her entire life as a self-conscious act of performance. Her peculiar make-up, costumes, and hats were not specifically choreographed for spectacular shows, but were inseparable elements of her everyday life. The border between the privacy of everyday life and public spectacle was always fluid for Berksoy. As she diligently assembled the bedroom in her Istanbul apartment in 1994, where she spent most of her time and entertained her guests, she did not foresee its display as a museum piece. However, three years later, she asked the renowned Turkish filmmaker Kutlug Ataman to film her space, (18) and in 1999, when the curators of the Millenium 2000 project saw her room during a casual visit, they immediately asked for its installation at Bonn. (19) Unlike Emin, who turned the privacy of her daily life into public spectacle, Berksoy challenged the boundary between the public and the private by designing all aspects of her life as a spectacle.


The historical trajectory of the two displays followed similar lines of difference, which call for further theorization. Emin's bedspace, which generously displays dirt, stain, and bodily discharge like menstrual blood, is a literal manifestation of excess as waste. The scene is so provocative that Christine de Ville, a British housewife, brought cleaning utensils when she visited the exhibition. She explained:
   I thought I would clean up this woman's life a bit. After I
   heard about it, I drove straight to London with a 500ml.
   bottle of Vanish. I had a go, but unfortunately I could not
   get to wash the sheets, just a pre-wash. In her video, she
   was bleating on about a lack of a love life. She will never
   get a boyfriend unless she tidies herself up. (20)

Disgust is one of the most obvious feelings evoked at the sight of dirty stockings and underwear, stained sheets, and cigarette butts. These are objects of excess, which the clean body needs to get rid of in order to maintain a sense of "I." De Ville's call for a cleaning act is an embarrassingly obvious manifestation of society's intolerance for dirt and disorder as threats to the imagined integrity of the self.


The symbolic continuously strives to pacify, balance, or circumvent the efforts to fill the hole that emerges by the expulsion of any undesirable element. The excluded element is terrifying because it reveals the truth and the fragility of the system that inevitably relies on it. Another term for excess-as-waste, used by psychoanalytical theorist Julia Kristeva, is abject, which she defines as having "only one quality of the object--that of being opposed to I."21 What actually causes abjection is not lack of cleanliness or health but what threatens identity, system, and order. Kristeva writes:
   If it be true that the abject simultaneously beseeches and
   pulverizes the subject, one can understand that it is
   experienced at the peak of its strength when that subject,
   weary of fruitless attempts to identify with something on
   the outside, finds the impossible within; when it finds
   that the impossible constitutes its very being, that it is
   none other than abject. (22)

This captures precisely what causes the viewers' sense of unease at the sight of Emin's installation. Hers is an intervention that outrages the audience by pointing to aspects of subjectivity that need to be suppressed to maintain a sense of "I." In short, de Ville's gesture bears testimony to the fantasy that a pure subject can emerge when bodily excess and (feminine) sexuality are made to vanish by a willful act of social control. Ironically, Emin's project to create a master bedroom out of the messy world of lived reality can never succeed. Taking de Ville's own words as a metaphor, the cleaning act is bound to remain a "pre-wash," never to be completed.

Berksoy, on the other hand, speaks from the plenitude of a world that cannot be limited to the codes of the symbolic. Her bedroom is much more than a utilitarian space defined by solid walls and functional furniture. Seemingly unrelated and haphazardly placed objects undermine the solidity of every surface. Paintings, masks, flamboyant hats, patterned spreads, antique dolls, and old photographs provide the room with texture, color, and a sense of time. The fifty-year-old, handcrafted console piano and the century-old Singer sewing machine are reminders of sound, rhythm, and creative human production. These are not objects commonly found in contemporary bedrooms. Unconventional, colorful, and beyond categorization, this space stirs the imagination by evoking a childlike sense of curiosity and discovery. Rather than revealing a lack in the symbolic order, the constituents of this space exceed what would be those boundaries. The participant/ viewer is invited and inspired to form unprecedented relationships between the various components of this seeming disorder.

Deleuze and Guattari might say that, riding on a line of flight from given structures and systems of order, Berksoy deterritorializes and ridicules the power of normative unitary structures. In their work, the term "line of flight" parallels the concept of deterritorialization which signifies escape from the forces of repression and stratification. To explain these forces, they say:
   You will organize, you will be an organism, you will
   articulate your body--otherwise you're just depraved.
   You will be a signifier and signified, interpreter and
   interpreted--otherwise you're just a deviant. You will be
   a subject, nailed down as one, a subject of enunciation
   recoiled into a subject of the statement--otherwise
   you're just a tramp. (23)

To counter such labels of "depraved," "deviant," and "tramp"; to increase the expanse of thought and to free the imagination, Deleuze and Guattari advise conjugating with deterritorialized flows and relaying lines of flight. Berksoy's life and work follow this advice in a most liberating way.

If Emin rebels against the status-quo by undermining the normative constructs of social propriety (i.e., transplanting the plane of excess-as-waste to the plane of art) Berksoy rejoices in the colorful world of proliferation by exceeding the norms of the symbolic. In other words, Emin's references come from within the symbolic as she tries to carve a place for her subjectivity based on lack. Her work, albeit critically, addresses the masculine gaze. Berksoy, on the other hand does not have a gendered addressee. In her work, sexuality does not manifest itself in the dual terms of masculine vs. feminine but as a desire for multiplicity. By first tearing apart elements of order and hierarchy and then re-combining them in unusual ways, she invites her audience into a wonder-world of joyful celebration. Her life's work is not about the dark alleys of (self-) consumption but about the adventurous path of production and the courageous discovery of difference.

Indeed, a comparison of Emin's and Berksoy's work cannot be reduced to a binary opposition of waste vs. difference, or consumption vs. production. Deleuze and Guattari remind us that forces of deterritorialization and lines of flight readily exist even in the most "arborescent" structures. They insist that all models are perpetually under construction, equally open to restrictive and liberating forces. (24) Neither art nor its related institutions are exceptions. For example, one can argue that the publication of a conventional book on Berksoy's work reterritorializes her unusual presence in the artworld. Possibilities of deterritorialization, on the other hand, are most strikingly exemplified during the exhibition of Emin's bed in the Tate Gallery, where, in October 1999, two Chinese men stripped off their shirts and had a pillow fight, jumping on the bed. "The bed was there. It was like an invitation," explained one of them, "We thought we'd make a new work, like theater." (25) By means of these men's act, the bed as the signifier of depressive self-consumption was transformed into a joyful playground. Both the artwork and the museum space were momentarily deterritorialized. Needless to say, their act was immediately followed by a severe intervention of reterritorialization, as both men were arrested by the police, and the exhibition was closed for the day. Emin herself saw the act as a criminal offense, as terrorism. Yet the two men's gesture is a powerful reminder of the inherent instability of any territory--even when it is set up as an act of protest, like Emin's bedspace.

Lines of flight know no limitation. In 2006, the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool opened an exhibition where child artists John Cake and Darren Neave created a mini-gallery complete with modern artworks, made entirely of Legos. (26) The exhibition contained replicas of Emin's bed among works by Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, and other contemporary artists. The bed had two figures jumping on it and Emin on the side with an angry face. This time, as the letters J and D on the figures indicate, the young artists depicted themselves as the two jumpers. Hence, as the actual crime is transformed into play, it is rendered totally void. The relatively long history of the bed, which began as a public display of a private everyday life, is mobilized towards becoming a site of mimicry and play, to the point where it is no longer recognizable as wasteful excess.

Emin's original display of her bedspace manifests a rebellion against the status quo. It spectacularizes the death of the feminine subject in the symbolic realm, but hardly points to a way out from the given structures. At that level, the acts of the Chinese men and the child artists, which can be interpreted as challenges to death, embody the production and celebration of alternative worlds. Berksoy's entire oeuvre follows similar lines. Unlike Emin, who offers a powerful critique of given structures, Berksoy engages in an ongoing performance of deterritorializing the deadly forces of structures themselves in order to point to unforeseen possibilities towards radical difference.

These bedroom works of Emin and Berksoy contain significant implications for feminist theory and action in art and cultural politics. By mobilizing excess as a strategy, and by underscoring the tenuousness of the boundary between the private and the public, both artists make powerful statements about the agency of the body in the cultural realm. Their differences, on the other hand, reveal the limitations of an oppositional conception of femininity in terms of the symbolic divides between man/woman, presence/lack, subject/object, and mind/body. Once the notion of femininity is detached from its masculine other, feminist strategies may be mobilized not merely to critique, but also to take a line of flight from the very structures of domination and control. Ultimately, this is a call for an affirmative, mobile, and joyfully liberating understanding of subjectivity, celebrating both multiplicity and radical difference.


(1.) After their first displays in Tokyo and Bonn, respectively, both exhibits travelled internationally and attracted large numbers of audiences. Emin's bed was placed in the Tate Gallery a year later, as a candidate for the Turner prize. Later it was bought by Charles Saatchi for 150,000 [pounds sterling] and displayed as part of the first exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery's new premises at County Hall, London. Berksoy's room was included in the Istanbul Art and Sculpture Museum's permanent collection in 2003. In 2010, it was exhibited in the Kazim Taskent art gallery in Istanbul as part of a larger exhibition to celebrate Berksoy's 100th birthday, which was entitled, "I Lived on Art, I Lived on Love."

(2.) Emin's autobiography provides a detailed account of her life, family, education and relationships. See: Tracey Emin, Strangeland (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2005).

(3.) Emin graduated from the Maidstone College of Art in 1986, and received an MA in painting at the Royal College of Art in 1989. In 2007 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Royal College of Art, London. Her works have been exhibited internationally, including Amsterdam, Munich, New South Wales, Istanbul and Venice. For a condensed biography see her faculty page at The European Graduate School website:

(4.) The Turkish Republic was founded in 1923, taking the Western European nations as a model, with the aim of implementing modernism in every aspect of cultural and political life. For an extensive account of the reforms concerning women's status see Arat, "The project of modernity and women in Turkey," in Sibel Bozdogan and Re[section]at Kasaba, Rethinking Modernity and National Identity in Turkey (Seattle: Univ. of Washington Press, 1997), 95-112.

(5.) For a chronological account of Berksoy's life see "Notes from My Life" in Mine Haydaroglu, ed., Semiha Berksoy: I Lived on Art, I Lived on Love (Istanbul: Yapi Kredi Yayinlari, 2010), 243-54.

(6.) Elizabeth Grosz, Architecture from the Outside: Essays on Virtual and Real Space (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001), 151.

(7.) Grosz, Architecture from the Outside, 152.

(8.) Referring to psychoanalytic feminism, Rosi Bradiotti states that the feminine "bears a privileged relation to lack, excess and displacement. By being posited as eccentric vis-a-vis the dominant mode, or as constantly off-center, the feminine marks the threshold between the human and its 'outside.'" See: "Teratologies" in Ian Buchanan and Claire Colebrook, eds., Deleuze and Feminist Theory (Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press, 2000), 166.

(9.) Various aspects of the difficult relationship between feminist and Deleuzian thinking are explored in the excellent essays in Buchanan and Colebrook, Deleuze and Feminist Theory.

(10.) Here, I refer to Lacanian psychoanalysis, which differentiates between the real, imaginary and symbolic realms. While the first is associated with the pre-language realm of the maternal plenitude, the second refers to the mirror phrase where the "I" differentiates itself, and the third is the realm of language, society and law. For an excellent feminist interpretation of these terms, see Margaret Whitford, Luce Irigaray: Philosophy in the Feminine (London: Routledge, 1991). Psychoanalytical theory also states that the symbolic realm both produces and depends on its very exclusions to perpetuate itself. In other words, lack is the precondition of any identity category. Feminist theorist Ellie Ragland-Sullivan explains that there is always a limit to signification, which is caused by the element of desire that is related to "the Real which blocks the smooth flow of communication." See: Ellie Ragland-Sullivan, "The Symbolic," in Elizabeth Wright ed., Feminism and Psychoanalysis (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992), 422.

(11.) Barry Didcock, "THE E SPOT, Barry Didcock talks to Tracey Emin about sex, art, old age and her latest work ... a DVD," Sunday Herald (Edinburgh), April 30, 2006.

(12.) Melih Gunes,, "a la Semiha" in Haydaroglu, ed., Semiha Berksoy, I Lived on Art, I Lived on Love, 48.

(13.) Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1987), 302. Deleuze and Guattari do not limit music to the realm of human beings. They link its deterritorializing power to nature, animals, and ultimately to the cosmos. Face, for them, is associated with naming, defining and fixing.

(14.) Elizabeth Grosz, Chaos, Territory, Art: Deleuze and the Framing of the Earth (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 2008), 57.

(15.) Melih Gunes,, "a la Semiha" in Haydaroglu, ed., Semiha Berksoy, I Lived on Art, I Lived on Love, 45.

(16.) This is a recurrent theme of Freudian and Lacanian versions of psychoanalysis, feminist critiques of which are offered in the work of a range of theorists including Luce Irigaray, Judith Butler, Kaja Silverman, Julia Kristeva, Theresa de Lauretis and others. Their main argument is to secure an autonomous sphere for female subjectivity that is not based on the lack of the phallus. In a similar vein, Berksoy's gesture reminds us that while the life of one side of binary constructs depends on the death of the other, one can also not exist without the other. In other words, what is relegated to the sphere of the other is always already part of the self.

(17.) I use the term foil in its literary meaning as "a character who serves as a contrast to another perhaps more primary character, so as to point out specific traits of the primary character." (accessed on July 29, 2011).

(18.) The film was featured at the 5th Istanbul Biennale in 1997.

(19.) For a detailed account of the installation see Zeliha Berksoy, "Semiha Berksoy: The Whole World is in my Room," in Haydaroglu, ed., Semiha Berksoy, I Lived on Art, I Lived on Love, 34-35.


(21.) Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1982), 1.

(22.) Kristeva, Powers of Horror, 5.

(23.) Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 159.

(24.) This is an ongoing theme of A Thousand Plateaus, where the authors present the seemingly dualistic nature of such models as rhizome vs. tree, nomadology vs. war machine, smooth vs. striated.



Gulsum Baydar is the Chair of the Architecture Department at Yasar University, Izmir, Turkey, where she teaches architectural history and theory courses of an interdisciplinary nature.
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Author:Baydar, Gulsum
Publication:Woman's Art Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2012
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