CERITH WYN EVANS
1958, Llanelli. Lives in London.
This piece by Cerith Wyn Evans employs a US Army anti-aircraft lamp, originally used to scan the skies of Europe in World War Two. Wyn Evans has employed this machine in two previous installations, and in each case has used it to broadcast, in Morse code, a specially chosen poem. Morse code was developed in America in 1835 to send messages, famously employing a binary system of long and short pulses to represent different letters of the alphabet. The idea of code is significant to Wyn Evans, as many of his art works involve transposing things from one context to another.
Cleave 05 involves a number of such renderings. A poem is rendered in code, and then in light. A war machine is rendered in a peacetime context, and then in a lyric role. The work becomes, at night, a glittering beacon but what exactly does it proclaim? The text that Wyn Evans has chosen for İstanbul is a poem in Turkish by Mihri Hatun, who lived in the Ottoman court of the fifteenth century. Hatun was famous for her wit, beauty and scandalous affairs as well as for her exquisite love poetry, and is an example of the range of voices which Ottoman society could encompass. Wyn Evans renders a complex signal from Turkeys past into its present.
I woke, opened my eyes, raised my head: there, with his face bright.
And exquisite like the full moon, he was standing upright.
Was it my lucky star, was I blessed with divine power?
In my field of vision, Jupiter ascended tonight.
He looked like a Muslim, but was wearing pagan garments;
From his enchanting face I saw clearly came streaming light.
By the time I had opened and closed my eyes, he vanished:
He was I divined a heavenly angel or a sprite.
Mihri shall never die: She found the elixir of life,
She saw Alexander beaming in the dark of the night.
ANTREPO NO: 5