I heard a story the other day: ‘When the railway was first introduced, a man walked into the construction site and asked an engineer: ‘What is this?’ The engineer said: ‘It’s a railway.’ The man said: ‘What is it for?’ The engineer said: ‘It lets you travel so fast that it makes a four day ride into one day.’ The man was puzzled: ‘But then what do you do for the other three days?’

When I sent the first email for what was later to become Conversations, I put a 24 hour response period. It seemed plenty of time for us confined in our homes. Looking back now, I feel I must have been crazy to ask people to send me an email everyday.

This is my interval text. This week, I haven’t concluded any correspondence. So I will speak.

A friend of mine asked me how I knew a conversation ended. Hmmm. I started -or rather attempted to start- around 30 conversations over a period of two weeks around the end of April 2020. Some of them didn’t work at all, I never heard from them. Some told me they didn’t want to do it. Some started and didn’t go on after a few correspondences. Some still go on with intervals and without an end in sight. Some faded out without conclusion. When you make something out of your correspondences such as this, you need to be able to conclude them, somehow. This is my feeling. So the conclusion of the conversations have sometimes been dictated by me or the other party, sometimes by outside forces.

Corresponding with friends during this time has brought up many topics and questions. And some very difficult moments... Our conversations have revealed very personal transformations over time and personal, social and at times political difficulties my friends have faced. It is sometimes hard for me to balance the personal processes of my friends, their privacy and my ongoing project. I think I play it by ear each time. In time, I realized the performative element in these conversations. Then I came to value the process, the very rhytm, shifting content and the nature of each correspondence with all its hiccups and rawness.

I think we are around halfway through with the correspondences now. Over the last 5 months, we have marked a number of historic moments in different parts of the world with drastic human consequences and it is not hard to see that more is coming. Everywhere in the world, artists are going through a very difficult time not only on a financial level but also on a more existential one. And we are somehow chronicling some of these moments. I want to take this opportunity to thank my friends for sharing their moments of reflection with me and offering their friendship through this time. I also thank those who wouldn’t, couldn’t, didn’t.

I go back to my correspondences now. This week I am not sharing one as I haven’t been able to confirm publication for some concluded ones right now due to varios reasons. Because life happens.

I hope to be back next week. Till then, stay safe and healthy.

Fatih Gençkal
September 26, 2020, İzmir

Conversations is produced by A Corner in the World, 2020
It is realized with the support of The Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.