Some People

1997, installation
Fingerprints from the gallery wall taken by the criminal police
Developed for Galerie Maçka Sanat, Istanbul


The early works of Esra Ersen produced in Turkey were marked by a quiet but aggressive criticality aiming at unveiling the concealed, left out realities of the social, erasures within the collective memory, neglected or excluded elements of the everyday life. The bitter, distant artist strove for rebuking and hurting the audience for her/his complicity in the existing social dysfunctions. *Some People* (1997) was a response to a scandalous car accident that shook the country, in which the killed or injured bodies of an MP (a Kurdish feudal lord linked to drug trafficking), a high rank police officer, a prostitute and a fascist ex-militia convicted of murders of some socialist intellectuals in the past were found in the same car with a boot full of heavy guns, an incident revealing the intestines of the “deep state” structure. For her solo exhibition in Maçka Gallery in Istanbul, a unique space for its geometrically tiled surfaces, Ersen invited a police officer specialised in taking the fingerprints from objects and surfaces. On one hand the traces collected from the gallery walls were meant to pay tributes to the mental efforts of numerous artists who previously grappled with the unique structure of the space. But on the other hand, the police officer, who had had to touch the walls in the preparation phase of the work, was made to take his own fingerprints, an occurrence which brought Ersen’s project in line with the rising civic demands of the time for rehabilitation of the corrupted security mechanism of the state.