Souvenirs of the Future

07 June 2024

You try to remember the future. A bird painted on the ceramic panel in a historical palace has found its place on the wall. The tiles of a church and a mosque have been painted on canvas. The pattern of a centuries-old ceramic plate appears before you on a velvet curtain. The broken flowers of an old vase are now sculptures. A green plant unfurls its leaves during the day, only to close them at night. You now walk inside the patterns you once saw on a kilim.* As the works in the museum’s collection flow through your phone screen, they each break and fall on the ground. Broken pieces come together in photographs. New ceramics fire in the work- shop’s kiln. The dust of the building has turned into a geometric design; the book you read last summer has become porcelain memories in the depths of the sea. A bird feather has fallen into the water. The branches of the tree reaching down to the ground carry ceramic cups. You travel along a highway covered in roses. As the baubles slowly burn, your tears settle on the shelves.

 

 

Could the future be remembered through the familiar objects collected in the past? Could these objects be a means to shape the memories of the future that will come as fragments—a means to shape, under- stand, and preserve the past? Souvenirs of the Future, which sets forth from the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation Tiles and Ceramics Collection, explores the ties forged between memory and imagination through contemporary works while focusing on that which is remembered with the help of objects. The cultural and symbolic value and meaning of objects that have been acquired or collected as souvenirs, as a reminder of a certain place and time, interweave the memory of the region with personal journeys. The exhibition presents a future-oriented perspective of the archive. It aims to understand the future through contemporary works inspired by the past. Yet instead of a nostalgic devotion to the past, it proposes pondering how we will remember the future and the future-oriented function of memory.

 

Souvenirs of the Future attempts to study the Kütahya Tiles and Ceramics Collection, a resource containing important data pertaining to the future, by pondering the future. The memory of Suna Kıraç, who built this collection, lives through the new works produced for the exhibition. Meanwhile, the exhibition underlines that nothing is everlasting, that everything constantly changes and transforms, and, most significantly, that everything has a lifespan. In this respect, Souvenirs of the Future serves as a reminder that the things we own, like life itself, can only be appreciated in real time, on ephemeral terms.1

“The souvenir speaks to a context of origin through a language of longing, for it is not an object arising out of need or use value; it is an object arising out of the necessarily insatiable demands of nostalgia.”2 Is it possible, then, to remember the future in a constructive manner beyond a nostalgic devotion and melancholic and woeful commemoration to the past? Through various contemporary works produced for the exhibition and the museum’s collection, Souvenirs of the Future invites us to focus on how we can remember the future rather than a present that reminisces, time and again, about the past.

 

 

The exhibition, comprised of four parts, takes place on the fourth and fifth floors of the museum. The section titled “Reminiscences of the Motifs” brings together works based on motifs used in ceramic ornaments. “Memories of Objects” recounts stories through ceramic objects, focusing on contemporary reflections of cultural items. “Memory of the Region” presents spatial interventions and site-specific installations exploring Kütahya geographically. As for “Remembering the Future,” it brings together speculative objects— reminiscences of the future through videos and photographs. In this exhibition organized in memory of Suna Kıraç, who built the Kütahya Tiles and Ceramics Collection, a selection from the collection that inspired the contemporary works accompanies each corresponding section.

*Translator’s note: kilim is a pileless handwoven reversible rug, covering, or tapestry traditionally made in parts of the Middle East, the Caucasus, and neighboring regions.

1. Souvenir (New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2018).
2. On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection (Durham: Duke University Press, 1993).  

Excerpted from curator Ulya Soley's article in the exhibition catalogue Souvenirs of the Future.
Explore! all the details about the exhibition sections:
Reminiscences of the Motifs
Memory of Objects
Memory of the Region
Remembering the Future

Reminiscences of Motifs

Reminiscences of Motifs

Memory of Objects

Memory of Objects

In his book exploring the cultural history of souvenirs, Rolf Potts discusses how such objects assume meaning through personal stories: Objects turn into memories with the stories they hold.

Remembering the Future

Remembering the Future

How can the future be imagined by looking at a collection or an archive? The lasting quality of ceramics allows us to ponder how the future might be remembered through a ceramics collection, since they render conceivable time eternal.