Erdem Taşdelen


A Petition of the Left Hand

Solo exhibition at Galeri NON, Istanbul, 2014

A Petition of the Left Hand is an investigation into left-handedness as a socio-historical phenomenon, incorporating works that span a range of media including video, sculpture, drawing and found objects. These works are the culmination of a year-long research that explored past discriminatory practices against left-handed individuals, and seek to create a metaphorical framework within which social discrimination can be thought today. My approach in the project oscillates between an academic tone in the manner of a social science researcher and a personal one where I delve into my relationship with my father, who as a left-hander was forced to learn to write with his ‘right’ hand.

A Petition of the Left Hand was supported by British Columbia Arts Council.

For more information, please click to read:
Review by Başak Şenova in Flash Art, November 2014

A Petition of the Left Hand
Found text on copy paper
8.5" x 11" (21.6 x 27.9 cm)

Petition of the Left Hand is a short letter that Benjamin Franklin wrote in 1779. The text presents a playful, humorous plea written from the point of view of the left hand, asking that it be treated with the respect it deserves.

The Servitude of the Left Hand
2-channel video
46' 53"

The Servitude of the Left Hand is a 2-channel video lecture that investigates various aspects of left-handedness, performed by myself. The lecture touches upon how left-handedness has been discriminated against historically, the language surrounding the phenomenon, the scientific theories on the causes of it, as well as my personal investment in the subject matter. I take left-handedness both literally and metaphorically and question why it has been maligned, drawing parallels between this outdated form of discrimination and those that continue to exist today.

The Dutch Handedness Questionnaire
17 drawings with graphite on archival paper
14" x 14" (35.5 cm x 35.5 cm) each

Although traditionally writing is the privileged activity in gauging handedness, a variety of activities are taken into consideration by psychologists and neuroscientists. In this series of instructional drawings, 16 tasks that are highlighted in Jan W. Van Strien’s 1988 Dutch Handedness Questionnaire are depicted, all of which are drawn here as being performed by the left hand. Being a right-hander myself, I have clumsily made these drawings with my left
hand as well as I could, as a gesture that repeats what many left-handers have had to do in reverse.

My Father's Left Hand
Cast bronze
9" x 4.25" x 3.50" (23.3 x 10.8 x 8.5 cm)

The act of writing with a pen is usually considered to be the determining factor of handedness. This sculpture, a bronze replica of my father’s left hand, points to my personal involvement with the subject matter of the project. My father was born left-handed but forced by his family to learn to write with his “right” hand. The sculpture therefore immortalizes my father’s left hand performing an act that he was never allowed to exercise in reality, serving as a symbolic overturning of a discriminatory practice.

All The Decisive Blows
Artist book (289 pages, edition of 500)
ISBN: 978-605-5569-03-7
6.25" x 4.25" (16 x 11 cm)

This artist book consists of a collection of quotes on the left hand by well-known people, including philosophers, artists, actors and musicians. Gathered over a year, these quotes serve as a catalogue of our collective understanding of the left hand. The book, which is designed in reverse so that the pages turn from left to right, takes its title from a quote from Walter Benjamin: “These are the days when no one should rely unduly on his competence. Strength lies in improvisation. All the decisive blows are struck left-handed.”

All the Decisive Blows was produced with the generous support of Ayşe Umur.

Please CLICK HERE to purchase a copy of the book.

Lefthander Magazine
6 digital prints
47 x 60 cm (18.5" x 23.5") each

Advertised as “world’s only magazine for lefthanders,” Lefthander Magazine was published by Lefthanders International, an organization based in Kansas that raises awareness of the needs of left-handed people. It began in 1975 and ran bi-monthly until the late 90s, with a backwards design to accommodate its readers. I made the covers of 6 issues of this magazine into posters, commemorating a unique publication that came at a time when discrimination against left-handed individuals was decreasing.

A Left-handed Lunch
Performative event

Parallel to the exhibition A Petition of the Left Hand at Galeri NON, I hosted a lunch at the Lale Restaurant in Istanbul on September 26, 2014. At this performative event attended by around 100 people, I requested that everyone eat with their left hand. Many cultures around the world prohibit the use of the left hand for eating, since it is understood to be reserved for 'dirty' actions. Those who are not forced to eat with their right hands face other problems – many left-handers will complain that it is difficult for them to eat at the same table as right-handers, as their elbows will often bump into their neighbours. This lunch was designed specifically for the comfort of left-handed guests, since they would be using their preferred hand for eating, whereas everyone else would have to awkwardly do what many left-handers have been forced to do in reverse.

No photographs were taken during this event, as I didn't want to make my guests more self-conscious than they would already be as a result of this unusual request.