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ON SHOW

What Water Knows

HACER KIROĞLU,  İREM TOK,  HALİL ALTINDERE,  GÖZDE MİMİKO TÜRKKAN,  CAN KÜÇÜK,  SERRA TANSEL,  AYÇESU DURAN,  BEYZA DİLEM TOPDAL,  İZ ÖZTAT,  FATMA BELKIS,  KEREM OZAN BAYRAKTAR,  ASLI ULUDAĞ,  MEHMET ALİ UYSAL,  PINAR ÖĞRENCİ,  UĞUR CİNEL,  VOLKAN ASLAN

15 JANUARY - 26 FEBRUARY

 

The idea of doing an exhibition about water stemmed from a meditation done on Hito Steyerl's Liquidity Inc.. Taking water as a powerful metaphor to understand and narrate today; it operates as a hypertext where finance and politics are used figuratively, and martial arts and waves are present literally. Fluidity and adaptability are musts to be the last one standing in a fast-paced world. Water embodies adaptability and survivability against hardships and transformation. 

 

Tsunamis, the destructive power of the giant waves, set the agenda mandatorily when the cities are expected to submerge under the water, and climate change is considered. It's not the news; since the 80s, the visions, and discussions of water wars and people who are forced to immigrate due to water(lessness), have taken place in the popular culture and the academy. From Africa to the Middle East, vast geography is affected by the water shortage because of over usage and inadequate policies; what's more, the countries situated in the northern part of the hemisphere are expected to sink underwater in the meantime. Water, both as a threat and as a value at risk, rightfully occupies the agenda. 

 

The exhibition reads the current uncertainty and crisis through the reality and the metaphor based on "water", its fluidity, adaptability, and formlessness. The exhibition argues that water is a boundary line, a threshold for some, and a dreamland that can never be reached for others. As the Reason for the most significant migration since WW2, water, from the Japan of the 1830s to the Istanbul of 3019, sits in the artists' focus for an extended period of time.

 

For the first time exhibited in Turkey, Gözde Mimiko Türkkan's Innergy / Watery Incantations focuses on the "flow" and deals with the water's utmost quality. The sound on the "water" images shot by the artist in 6 different countries over a period of 3 years; deals with the boundaries, depth, memory, and change of consciousness through the relationship between humans and water. Proceeding in a flow that the artist refers to as "thinking with water", the video leads the viewer to imagine the movement/consciousness of the water inside the body.

 

Can Küçük's work, The Swimmer (2021), which he prepared for the exhibition, carries the structure of water that disperses at any moment and needs to be contained to the sculpture. Needles, magnets, paper clips, and similar materials that connect objects with temporary forces hold together the pieces of an uncertain life for the moment. The things owned clung to the concrete structures/memories attached through blurry motives and with the consciousness of a resolution ahead.

 

Prepared for the exhibition, Ayçesu Duran's Broken Heart Syndrome (2021), focuses on the deconstruction of the meanings of ready-made objects and the interrelation of objects. Through resisting fluid dynamics through design and categorizing the shells of sea creatures as souvenirs, the work embodies the intricate relationship between humans and water in a poetic language.

 

Mehmet Ali Uysal's Horizon (2013-2021) explores his works in which reality is bent, distorted, shaped, and expanded as a continuation of a series of works produced by the artist about how we perceive space: the artist focuses on the horizon in this work. "Our eyes only allow us to reconstruct reality in two dimensions, and we grasp the third through movement," says Uysal about the work.

 

Hacer Kıroğlu's work, Untitled, 2021, which will be seen for the first time in this exhibition, the starting point of the work is the palimpsest technique, which allows writing a new text on paper by washing or scraping written texts during the periods when the use of papyrus was common. Here, of course, the repeated use of paper does not serve to evaluate the rare material but rather focuses on the act of writing. The text written on the paper is washed before it dries, and the unreadable traces of the previous text are continued to be written on. By repeating the washing process, an abstract text that is not expected to be read but has served the ritual of writing-washing emerges.

 

Hokusai's work called Great Wave, the most well-known wave in art history, shows the fears and even the horror of the Japanese society as a critical observer of the period. Showcasing the weakness of human beings in the face of nature, as the Japanese society opened up to the West after long isolation. In this sense, the waves that Volkan Aslan draws regarding Hokusai can be thought of as both an absolute natural phenomenon and a metaphor used to understand the present.

 

Halil Altındere's Siren (2016) begins with a monologue by trans-activist Belgin Çelik about the times she wore a mermaid costume at traveling fairs in Anatolia and is carried to the present day with the fairy-tale images of Qübra Uzun. Inspired by the ancient Greek tragedies and this story, the work transforms Turkey's political turmoil and crises into a "B movie" that includes mafia showdowns and escape plans. "Water" is on the video's focus, hosts both mermaids who seduce sailors and dark places (underwater = unconscious) of mafia showdowns.

 

Uğur Cinel's unique sculpture production for the exhibition focuses on the memory of the city's identity, which has been destroyed and erased through the intense destruction and homogenization of the city. Reminiscent of the famous slogan of the '68 uprising, "the beach under the paving stones", Cinel draws water drops on the marble stones.

 

As a part of İz Öztat and Fatma Belkıs's installation Who Carries the Water (2015), from the series Will Flow Free include yellow muslin worn by Loç Valley women, which became the symbol of the anti-SHP movement in many valleys of Turkey. Using traditional methods, artists produce woodblock patterns with natural dyes and expand the repertoire of traditional designs. They work with processes and materials that reflect the values expressed and sustained in the struggle. Since they have a keen grasp of what it takes to generate electricity, they prefer operations that don’t need the electrical energy.

 

The Water Line (2021) a joint work by Kerem Ozan Bayraktar and Aslı Uludağ, examines the web of events that intertwine ecology and international trade, focusing on the relationship between cargo ships and barnacles. Bayraktar and Uludağ focus on aesthetics, technique, and matter historicity as a method and use the red surface of the ship's hulls below the waterline as an inter-scale tool.

 

Beyza Dilem Topal's Polluted Homes (2021) explores a series of macro-fauna fossils that the artist collected from the sand dunes of the Bosphorus in 3019, in a post-apocalyptic future. The artist envisions an emergence of the cyborg macro-fauna species with the qualitative data obtained from Poyrazköy and Garipçe laboratory visits, interviews, and field exploration, as a part of 'Cyborg Seas and Critters' research.

 

Serra Tansel's lightbox, which focuses on fish from Bosphorus and the brutal ways of capitalism, witnesses us to an unbelievable reality. Rather than embodying the saying "the big fish eats the little one", the work showcases humankind's cruelty and greed.

 

Irem Tok's play on dimensions suggests a closer look towards the world. While the little characters in geographic structures that the artist has cut from the encyclopedias create new stories, the universes inside the puddles we pass by become gigantic through the microscope lens. The water patterns that the artist has been working on for a long time include an investigation of these micro-universes. Her research, which she started by examining the water samples she mainly collected from parks, gardens, and water bodies in the city, directs her to share this universe and make it visible.

 

Pınar Öğrenci's A Gentle Breeze Passed Over Us (2017), focuses on the surface of Akdeniz, one of the most beautiful and the most deadly, and nowadays, what is one of the most dangerous areas in the world for a group of people. The surface, which can be seen as a passage, a threshold, and a labyrinth, the work asks this question: What is home and place in a time of sweeping social and technical transformations; where our social order does not match our technological order, as Walter Benjamin had already predicted a century ago? The poetic visuals of a lute swaying over the sea form the video's main body.

 

 

Organized with the participation of 16 artists, the exhibition titled "What Water Knows" can be visited at Pilot Gallery between January 15-February 26, 2022.

 

Gözde Mimiko Türkkan