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Robert Smithson at the Hotel Tarlabaşı


It’s really got no center, it’s really quite dedifferentiated. It might look

like a Bellotto, all those square lines and angles and daubs of squalor,

but actually the whole logic of the place is impossible to fathom.


Take, for example, the stairways, the way they don’t lead to anywhere,

how they simply disappear into the sky, the same way the penthouse

windows do, the way the floors aren’t worth standing on, lead nowhere.


The ground-floor windows I really like, too. They’re portals of darkness,

black passages and you can’t imagine what’s lurking inside them.

You can see how they’ve used fire to collapse boards into piles or heaps,


interlacing upon interlacing, and they’ve left here and there a pillar

or two, holding up nothing at all. There’s no explanation for them,

a kind of meaninglessness defying logic. The egg-shell blue paint


is supersaturated and chipped, it’s got this super-gritty feel, it’s very

satisfying. I love how they haven’t just torn it down, how they’ve

left it in this sort of intermediate state, it’s all the things you love


but also all in ruins, it’s very smart actually, the way they just leave

it there. There are all these little touches they’ve added, the chickens

in cages by the door and the graffiti saying something about whores


and not throwing trash, even though it’s scattered all around here

in a rather pleasing way, not to mention the docent on the threshold

yelling threats and obscenities at photographers and passers-by.


I mean, it just feels very authentic, like something unobtainable,

impenetrable, it’s very gratifying how it’s in conversation with

the ancient churches and mosques and the markets and festivals,


it’s just so philosophical. That chair leaning in one of the middle windows

is just so evocative of the passage of time and the transitoriness

of the beautiful and it’s just been left there, so remarkable and poignant.


You could write a whole thesis on that technique, on just that trick.

Just add the slopes that seem to go somewhere and don’t and fold

in the pointless scaffolding and say something about the urban milieu.


The window bay just sort of droops there, drooping, it’s got this drooping

effect, and you get this feeling from it, this hanging drooping feeling,

and you look at it for a while and the whole time you wonder what it means


and then you lose interest and then you just move on to other things.

Derick Mattern