top of page


The Fire

10.09 – 09.11.2019


Interpretation: Sarkis

Exhibition sign

Bülent Erkmen


red punctum

When a fire breaks out at Aliye Berger’s studio in Narmanlı Han, feathers escape from pillows that are being thrown around by neighbors who are there to help, they catch on fire and transform into gleaming fireflies flying all over the burning studio. A stunning scenery. Aliye, mesmerized, suddenly takes out her paints and starts painting the scene. But the real fire she would paint would be one yet to break out, on a September day, while she is at her studio balcony. “I loved a bunch of crazy people in Istanbul,” Sarkis would say: “Aliye Berger and Sevim Burak!” Sarkis, whom once taken photographs of Burnt Palaces and “burnt” them, multiplying the silent scream that was harboring in it, now nestles into Berger’s Fire. This time with red punctum, as a continuum of the Yellow Punctum he realized at the Bunker. In the sense that Barthes defines it, a punctum is a scar: a mark made with a pointy tool, a prick, a dot, a bite, a spot, a slit. Sarkis’ knives, neons, icon frames, his 12 burnt down studios, his fingerprints on stained glasses, they all are punctums. With (In the Beginning) The Scream, he re-constructs the colors of Munch’s painting, he re-creates the very first punctum moment that pierced through him, the memory. The fluctuating colors seem to re-surface again in water for a moment, then disappear with time; the scream seeps into the flow of water. Fire instantly brings The Scream to mind. Perhaps the punctum placed right in the center of the canvas veils the screaming figure. In the interval between a scream and a fire, Sarkis swiftly sews the two paintings together. With just a gaze, a single gesture, bringing together her own past, the logic behind the exhibitions she was a part of, the Library for Memory and Eternity, Everest My Lord, Mnemosyne/Bride watches everything, from a distance. Maybe she is thinking of other fires, other disasters, the place where, at the time she was taken away from as a trophy of war, of September the 6th, 7th. All of a sudden, audiotapes catch on fire/ the chandelier catches on fire/ the stained glass catches on fire/ beyoğlu catches on fire/ the bride’s nail polish catches on fire/ gold foil catches on fire/ the house in Çaylak Street catches on fire/ memory catches on fire/ 19550 catches on fire/ painting catches on fire. 

Cem İleri

Aliye Berger, Untitled, 1955

Watercolor on paper

Dimensions (watercolor): 44 × 56 cm

Private collection

Photo plastered on the wall

Dimensions (wall): 347 × 222 cm 

bottom of page