Ceramic artist Safiye Başar, in its exhibition titled “Hakikati Ara-la-mak” focuses on the story of the Yarımca Porcelain Factory, which was established within the framework of development policies of the Republican era and produced under the umbrella of Sümerbank.
Fatma Batukan Belge
The exhibition titled “Hakikati Ara-la-mak” (Discovering the Unvarnished Truth)opened by the ceramic artist and academician Safiye Başar in Gallery Mod was beyond a ceramic exhibition. It was a preposition raising the topic of privatization, a social phenomenon, and rereading it through a development project of Republic Era. The artistfocused on the story of Yarımca Porselen, a factory which produced porcelain under the roof of Sümerbank (a Turkish bank and holding company) for 30 years in Izmit, but was privatized in 1998 and closed down immediately afterwards. In fact, the story she told was the same as hundreds of factories that have gotten into privatization troublein Turkey: First the factory is privatized, then it closes down, its workers remain unemployed and living spaces transform. While the gears of wild capitalism chew and spit these development projects, they cause social and cultural destruction.
Kocaeli University Faculty of Fine Arts Ceramics Department faculty member Assoc. Prof. Safiye Başar has addressedone of the social realities of the region where she lives and teaches. She used artistic opportunities such as video and photography for Hakikati Ara-la-mak. Yarımca Porselen was a project that could only be implemented in the mid-1960s, although the decision of itsestablishment dated back to late 1950s. It wasnot a small workshop, but a giant factory that was planned to meet 70 percent of the country’s need. The first production began in 1968; electro-porcelain, tableware and sanitary ware (ceramic sanitary ware) were produced in the factory built on an area of 60 thousand square meters. The production continued uninterrupted for 30 years until it was privatized in 1998... It was privatized with all its equipment and sold to Evyap. After buying the factory, Evyap renouncedits decision to run the business and sold the factory to the state for triple price in the early 2000s even thoughstate loans were used duringits purchase from state. The reprivatization process began after the state acquisition. Today, what has been left from that factory is a 1000 square meter building which has been ruined. This building has not been used anymore. Safiye Başar followed the traces of this destruction through “An Excavation Diary” in the exhibition. The process of revealing the ceramic panel in the factory remains was conveyed in triptych video installation. In addition to this work which archaeologists associated with salvage excavations, she worked like an archaeologist in video footage incorporated into the original technical drawing of the factory’s tunnel kilns.
Başar focuses on women’s problems in her works. The leading role was also given to women in the exhibition. Women workers, who were once the engine of the factory, where 2,000 people worked, were the main subject of the intervened photographs series. The artist created a time shift by installing her own image to the photographs and put herself in the place of the female workers of the period. Başar who has also previous studies on Seka factory says: “These factories are not just economic values,” “All factories under the umbrella of Sümerbank have also their own culture.” “These are the structures that make Izmit what it is and ensure its cultural enrichment. When women workers come to this factory for the first time and start earning money and gaining economic power, they acquire a different life perspective. The factory should be evaluated through the lives of the workers especially female workers who have been living there and analyzed considering its sociological dimension.”