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The Free Society of Fools and Crooks


1 DECEMBER 2016 - 7 JANUARY 2017

Pilot presents Burak Delier’s solo exhibition The Free Society of Fools and Crooks between 1 December 2016 and 1 January 2017.

'As a member of the Free Society of Fools and Crooks,

I swear by Eyüplü Halit, George Manolescu, Princess Caraboo, Selçuk Parsadan, 'Sülün' Osman, Waldo Demara, 'Count' Viktor Lustig, official and unofficial fools, swindlers, idiots whose stories are told by History with a capital H or history with a small h, that I will carry out, this covenant: 

I will lie all the times to the best of my talent, ability and resources.

Under no circumstances I will not go off the path I know.

I will believe in all that is fake and keep away from all that is real.

I will not separate the poor from the rich, I will take from the rich to give the poor, take from the poor to give the rich and if possible take from both to give to both.

Under no circumstances I will show no mercy on people without distinction as to religion, race and sex.

I will trust nobody and everybody.

I will not discriminate between the cheater and the cheated, the scammer and the scammed, the defrauder and the defrauded. 

I will respect the thoughts, theories, desires and fears of all the fools and crooks, I will not impose any ideas on them.

Forever I will listen to what they say, be a slave for their phantasms and desires.

I will manipulate fools and crooks' minds, desires and fears to reach the truth.

I will stay away from the known and not fear the unknown.'

On 3 December 2015, Burak Delier went out on the Galata Bridge disguised as the legendary con man Sülün Osman, who over the 1950s has sold this bridge many times to passersby (or who, according to some rumors, appropriated the story of another famous con man named Eyüplü Halit.)* Following his tactics, Delier explores alternatives to the long established culturally critical attitudes that nowadays serve neo-liberal ideology. The artist, who has conducted a comprehensive research on the history and philosophy of fraud, proposes the way swindlers move back and forth across borders and categories as well as their fluidity within and upon the rigid social structures as an alternate critical and artistic thinking mode.

Another work featured in the exhibition draws from a romance scam of Eyüplü Halit who collected money and jewelry from 68 women on the false promise of marriage. How many bride candidates showed up at Sait Halim Pascha Mansion where Burak Delier, the lover-groom-swindler-artist, gave a rendezvous on 3 April 2016 for a photo shooting? How many trusted him, chose to believe in true love or took a risk?

Burak Delier’s recent works call attention to the fact that the politics and economics of the day as well as the art world centers around the will to believe just like our personal relations. Rather than identifying the fool and crook in the story, Delier raises a series of critical questions about the society we live in. Why do we keep ourselves open to those who want to manipulate and take advantage of our need for meaning and believing? Why do we deny our part in social relations? How to build trust-based relationships in a world driven by speculation and manipulation? Where do we go form here?

*You can watch a video that documents his performance entitled Author as Swindle (2015, 02:21) by clicking the link:

Author as Swindler, 2015, video, 02'21''