An exercise in dramaturgy and dystopian reflection, The Characters: Act III by Erdem Taşdelen is the final act of a three-part audio installation based on the narratives of 30 stock characters, performed by voice actors from scripts developed by the artist. Each of these fictional characters is a recognizable archetype that represents a specific set of behaviours or thoughts; their defining traits are borrowed from the work of Theophrastus, a Greek author of the 4th century BCE. Better known as “the father of botany,” Theophrastus produced the first known set of character sketches in history, describing types of people such as “The Pennypincher,” “The Faultfinder,” and “The Grouch.” Peculiarly, all these 30 types, together titled The Characters, depict negative traits. Some scholars have speculated that a supplementary volume comprising positive types must also have existed, or at least been planned. In the absence of these, however, The Characters takes on a comical and poignant quality through its rather bleak representation of human nature.
The Characters: Act I was presented in Calgary by The Bows (formerly Untitled Art Society) in partnership with EMMEDIA in 2019 and The Characters: Act II was presented in Saskatoon at AKA Artist-Run in 2020. The artist would like to acknowledge the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council and the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council.
Special thanks to Centre for Artistic + Social Practice for their exhibition assistance.
Image Credit: Erdem Taşdelen, The Characters: Act I (installation view), The Bows (formerly Untitled Art Society), presented in partnership with EMMEDIA, 2019. Courtesy the artist and The Bows. Photo: Katy Whitt.
Meet the artists
Erdem Taşdelen is a Turkish-Canadian artist who currently 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; he often draws from unique historical narratives to address the complexities of current socio-political issues. Taşdelen’s work has been shown in numerous exhibitions internationally, and reviewed in publications including Artforum, Flash Art, ArtAsiaPacific, Financial Times, Canadian Art and C Magazine. He 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.
Natasha Chaykowski is a white settler writer and curator based in Mohkinstsis/Calgary. Currently, she is Director of The Bows.