I Am Manifest Proof of Deviation, 2018. Single-channel HD video, 12:11min
Wild Child, 2015. Two HD videos, 42:05 min and 20:59 min
Guest moderator: Suzy Halajian
Host: Adjunct Positions
I Am Manifest Proof of Deviation is a speculative take on what forced political confessions might look like in the age of facial reenactment and artificial voice technologies. The project is inspired by a text performed in 1987 by Mehdi Hashemi, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard who was identified as having worked against the Islamic Republic and told that his crimes would be pardoned if he confessed them on state television. Focusing on the theatrics of this performance, I Am Manifest Proof of Deviation reworks the transcript of Hashemi’s confession to eliminate the historical facts, and creates an abstract, absurd and semi-fictitious narrative. The video features a behind-the-scenes performance where we encounter a young male actor reading lines from a confessional script, whose facial movements will supposedly be mapped onto an unnamed confessor's face. The accompanying audio track combines his performance with an AI vocal avatar trained to mimic his voice and intonation, thereby prompting the viewer’s awareness of the fabricated nature of what is seen.
I Am Manifest Proof of Deviation was produced with support from KulturKontakt Austria and the Canada Council for the Arts.
Wild Child is a two-part video installation that takes as its starting point An Historical Account of the Discovery and Education of a Savage Man by Jean Marc Gaspard Itard, a physician who took on the task of caring for a feral boy found in Aveyron, France in 1798. Embarking on a mission to “civilize” the child by teaching him language, Itard was left frustrated in his attempts to make the boy transcend his so-called savagery when he proved incapable of learning to speak. In Wild Child, Taşdelen adapts this story, this time set in contemporary British Columbia and presented through two distinct elements. One video depicts preparations for an imagined filmed documentary, featuring twelve actors as they audition for the roles of its main characters. This is accompanied by a second video, a sequence of images of a forest depicting “nature” in a supposedly unmediated manner. Together, the videos in Wild Child satirically draw attention to the mechanics at work in the representation of fantasies about human nature, while blending reality and fiction in a way that deliberately befuddles the viewer.
Wild Child was commissioned by Contemporary Art Gallery Vancouver in partnership with Cineworks and was supported by British Columbia Arts Council.
Erdem Taşdelen is a Turkish-Canadian artist who lives and works in Toronto. His practice is rooted in conceptualism and involves a range of media including installation, video, sculpture, sound and artist books. His diverse projects bring structures of power into question within the context of culturally learned behaviours, where he often draws from unique historical narratives to address the complexities of current socio-political issues. His work has been shown in numerous exhibitions internationally, at venues including Untitled Art Society, Calgary; Mercer Union, Toronto; Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen (2019); VOX Centre de l’image contemporaine, Montreal (2018); Pera Museum, Istanbul; Or Gallery, Vancouver (2017); Museum für Neue Kunst, Freiburg (2016); Stacion Center for Contemporary Art, Kosovo (2015); Kunstverein Hannover; ARTER, Istanbul; Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich; MAK, Vienna (2013); and Oakville Galleries (2012). Taşdelen has been awarded the Joseph S. Stauffer Prize in Visual Arts by the Canada Council for the Arts (2016), the Charles Pachter Prize for Emerging Artists by the Hnatyshyn Foundation (2014), and was long-listed for the Sobey Art Award in 2019.
Suzy Halajian is an independent curator and writer based in Los Angeles. Halajian has curated exhibitions and programs at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Hammer Museum, Human Resources, ONE Archives at the USC Libraries (all Los Angeles); Disjecta, Portland; Sursock
Museum, Beirut; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; UKS, Oslo, among others. She was recently a resident at Rupert, Vilnius; Alserkal, Dubai; Al Ma'mal Foundation, Jerusalem; and marra.tein, Beirut.
Halajian is on the programming team of Human Resources in Los Angeles. In 2017, she was granted a Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant for Georgia journal, a collaboration with Anthony Carfello and Shoghig Halajian, and in 2014 she received a Curatorial Research Fellowship from the Andy Warhol Foundation for ongoing research in the Middle East and North Africa. Her writing has been published by ArtEast, BOMB, X-TRA, Ibraaz, Art Los Angeles Reader, among others.
Halajian is a PhD student in the Film & Digital Media program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She holds an MA in Curatorial Studies from Bard College, New York, and a BA in Economics and Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles.