Art lovers can enjoy painter Heyecan Şahin's exhibition "Enaniyet Zinciri" ("Chain of Egocentricity") until July 7 at the Beşiktaş Armenian School. "Egocentricity," which is defined in philosophy as "perceiving yourself above all, the tendency to see yourself as the purpose of all" and "one to just be interested in one's self and using everyone for their own benefit," is the concept behind the exhibition, bringing together various paintings and installations by the artist.
Seeking answers to the question "What is the chain of egocentricity today?" in his paintings, Şahin notes that concepts, rights and purposes are so mixed that people are not sure how to do the inner questioning. "Today, there is the necessity to know everything. If you don't, then you're the other; you're being excluded. Of course, the equation 'ego = me' existed for centuries. The gate at the courtyard of Selimiye Mosque built by Sinan the Great in Edirne directs one to face their ego: the thick chains that cover the right and left side of almost half of the door. The reason why this chain sways like this is to ensure that people entered the door by leaning in. Thus, those, including the sultan) left their ego and identity outside of the door and do their prayers without these feelings of awe. However, in today's world and increasingly, with egocentricity, we cannot see outside of our personal aura; we don't value people, and we act as if people can be used and abused. I want art lovers who come to my exhibition to listen to the stories I'm telling inside with a clear mind and a warm heart," the artist says.
Şahin's paintings are displayed on the walls of Beşiktaş Armenian School.
Aiming to focus on the injustice and cries of disadvantaged individuals in society in her works, Heyecan Şahin also focused on seasonal child workers, a sad story of our country as well as women's problems. Thus, the revenue from the exhibition will be used for seasonal agricultural child workers to express themselves through painting, to support their education, to draw the attention of relevant institutions to seek flexible education models and to open another way for people with goodness in their hearts. "One of the bleeding wounds of the agricultural sector is child labor: Children who don't go to school; who are in need of hygiene and care. I have had relations with advisers who worked in the project seeking solutions for this huge problem. At a meeting, I stated that while it's not my formal duty, I might personally support this cause by making paintings and creating environments for children to paint in. I want to offer my works to art lovers during my art education and contribute to the education of seasonal child workers. We can call this giving back to school what I gained from school," the artist explained as the purpose of the show.
Supporting child workers
Seasonal mobile agricultural workers leave their houses to work in fields in April and May and migrate to cities in groups. "This nomadic life lasts about six months. Children, who are students in this process, are removed from school and employed in the fields; the younger ones do not have any chance to go to nurseries. They grow up in dust, earth and mud. The parents are helpless. Thus, the revenue from the exhibition will be used for seasonal agricultural worker children to express themselves through painting, to support their education, to draw the attention of relevant institutions to seek flexible education models and to open another way for people with goodness in their hearts," Şahin reflects on the matter.
Not too late for anything
The works in the exhibition are part of her studies back in the faculty of fine arts. "These are works of me being late. I strived to make experiments in many areas due to my excitement. In my work, I try to show that it's not too late for anything; that our lives and works cannot be independent of the reality of our country; social changes affect art as much as art may contribute to social changes," she notes.
Şahin is also quite sensitive about women's problems. "Not just in the country; unfortunately, there is still social injustice from developed countries to tribal states all around the world. I wanted to mediate the cries of the helpless, and I wanted to scream in their place in my paintings. Women's issues, the value of labor and the identity problem are other issues I work on."
Role of art in social problems
"While changes in society affect art, revolutionary art has always been in the society. The artists, who take an effective role in social change, are fed from philosophers, historians, scientists and artists who lived before them. They contribute to the following periods with what they create. Those who guide art have always been interested in religion, morals and thoughts, higher institutions forming society, have played an active role in social changes with their creations regarding life and action," Şahin said about the transforming effect of art.
She added, "Along with philosophers and authors who felt the heavy weight of conditions surrounding the 1789 French Revolution, artists explained that the struggle to change the regime was to reclaim their lives, change how the country was managed, change the social situation they were in and thought of it as their primary duty as citizens to create works to ensure that society acts and sticks together. While social dynamics accelerate art, innovative approaches of artists shape society."
School as gallery
The works are displayed at the Beşiktaş Armenian School. "This school fascinated me when I wanted to contribute to the school's students by exhibiting my works. The visual richness of the school is testimony of the history of Istanbul. How picturesque it is, made me share my works and experience here with my friends," she concluded.