My Highlights from Contemporary Istanbul 2013

Alanur Ataç
Oct 31, 2013 2:17PM

These diverse innovative pieces resonate both individually to vocalize the specific viewpoints championed by their creators but also collectively to reexamine the hybridity and plurality of perspectives from which each individual uniquely communicates and engages with artworks. In striking contrast to the sharp black and white hues that visually dominate the pieces included in my selection, they celebrate the permeability of expression and interpretation. By seeking to inhabit what Bhabha described as “the third space”, these artworks free themselves from the constraints imposed by “black or white”, “male or female”, “oriental or occidental” to translate the untranslatable and re-focalize our perception of reality and imperial values.    

My selection:    

Drew Tal, Three Pearls, 2012, at Emmanuel Fremin Gallery

Akin to the plurality of his personal identity, Israeli born Tal’s innovative works reject containment within any one given category and celebrate the hybridity and permeability of identity and the multiple perspectives from which they can be viewed. Merging the diverse mediums of photography and digital printing, the artist triumphs in capturing the human face, especially “exotic” features in works that both celebrate human contention whilst also transcending the corporeal to achieve spiritual timelessness. Three Pearls is a striking example of such an endeavor and centers upon the act of veiling and the physical act of wearing a hijab. In unison with other renowned artists, such as Zineb Sedira, Tal refutes conventional academic discourse that has focalized upon Western post-colonial or orientalist views to represent the unrepresentable and portray veiling and the connotations it carries in a more neutral grounding. As affirmed by the artist himself, he seeks to utilize his lens as an omnipresent observer “of these women’s lives: their celebrations and struggles, their sorrows and renewed hopes, their acceptance and, at times, their courageous heroism” (Drew Tal).

Shirin Neshat, Untitled (Zarin series), 2005, at Galeria Filomena Soares

Neshat’s powerful and evocative video artwork Zarin positions the spectator in a third space of narration, confronted by a visual, written and audio onslaught. The artwork ends with hope for freedom coming from a “madness” and cleansing that metaphorically incorporates freeing the female from male and institutional powers. Zarin constitutes a transcendence into being, from a different ontological state. The subject of the reduction of a woman to her essence — to a body whose purpose is to be subordinate, give pleasure and reproduce has been continually re-worked and Neshat’s work follows a similar trajectory in condemning the rigid phallocentric governance in Iran. It deviates, however in simultaneously rejecting monolithic interpretations of Islam and examining it from a multiple viewpoint, opens up the discourse to other interpretations and readings.      

Helena Almeida, Drawing, 1999, at Galeria Filomena Soares

The artist’s unique viewpoint seeks to bridge the voids that separate photography, drawing, performance and sculpture, fusing them into a plural contrapuntal viewpoint. Exploring these distinct mediums from a collective “third space” reworks our concept of their reality and limitations.   

Jacinto Moros, FCOMV2, 2013, at Victor Lope Arte Contemporaneo

Moros’ reworking of conventional geometrical features in his sculptural pieces incorporates an innovative layering effect. The rhythmic poetry of his works enable multiple perspectives and free them from conventional constraints of form. The sculptures metaphorically represent their own transformation and eternal hybridity.   

Kemal TufanUntitled, 2013, at Pg Art Gallery

Instant attraction to this work. Intrigued to see it in the flesh.

Lluís Cera, Concentrated Truths, 2012, at Villa del Arte Galleries

Cera’s work retranslates the solidity of stone and metals with his sculptures transcending the corporeal nature of these elements to encapsulate an elasticity and flexibility.  His works constitute a fusion of diverse mediums that, in keeping with Bhabha’s theory of hybridity, harmoniously fuse to create a third plane.  From the perspective of this third and new dimension different interpretations unique to each individual’s perspective can be drawn.

Artists to watch in 2014:

Although not part of my selection I find Gözde Türkkan’s work thought provoking...

Halil Altindere is an artist I have been watching for some time now. I loved his film, Wonderland, at the Istanbul Biennial this year.  

My number one tip for collectors:

Perhaps a little cliche, but buy what you love, what you are attracted to, and build a collection that has a direction. 

Explore Contemporary Istanbul on Artsy.

Alanur Ataç