This article expresses Utku Dervent’s thoughts about contemporary art and art market in the context of the exhibiton called ‘What’s Missing?’ held at ‘Karşı Sanat’ in 2003.



I do not oppose anyone.  I just side with myself.

It is under the banner of a predetermined concept that art biennials and similar events bring works of art together.  For me, it is as if curators use artists and their art works like ready-mades to create their own “art” in a conceptual framework of their own design.  Much like the works that Duchamp produced by bringing ready-mades together in his own conceptual framework.

The act of placing art under the banner of a concept is founded on the assumption that concepts or conceptualizations lie at the heart of a work of art. In my opinion, a work of art creates and determines its own concepts. The artwork creates a foundation for concepts, rather than the other way around. This does not mean that foundations with thought processes are absent from the creation of works of art. It does signify, perhaps, the differences between philosophy and art.

Is it not fair to say that behind conceptual banners in art biennials—or even in art criticism—is the reasoning that an art work has no voice of its own until we make it into something that does.  Like ventriloquists, philosophers, curators, and art critics join forces together to manipulate artists and their art.

In other words, this reminds me of the role and rights assumed for centuries by men of religion in society. Clergy function(ed) principally to explain and interpret God’s will in order to teach and regulate the masses. It seems as if philosophers, curators and art critics have now taken on clerical roles.

For me, there should be no mediator; viewer and art alone should suffice.  Any form of bridge between the two can only serve to scatter the viewer’s independent evaluation and capacity.  A work of art should stand alone, open to each and every viewer’s interpretation.  Philosophers, art critics, and curators should stand not between the work of art and the viewer but behind the viewer.