Formally there is not much, if anything, in common between the two artists. Gures’ works have a naivety to them, a freedom and courageousness and a kind of rebellion. From her collages to her videos there is a distinct quality of ordered chaos, purposeful but not strict. Aladag’s works on the other hand have a Bauhausian formalism, with hard lines and seemingly mathematical proportions, which are then countered, balanced even, by her use of specific materials or mediums. What they do share is the performative; but where Gureş’ performativity asks ‘Who is the Subject?’, Aladag’s asks in kind, ‘Who is the Author?’ Shown together, their works become a kind of philosophical and questioning see-saw made by their respective aesthetic prowess.
Nilbar Gures’ subject is free, not bound by its author, not dictated by her hand or will. Her subject travels and floats, queering spaces and language and identities; like in her Looking for the Image, 2011, a photograph from her Open Phone Booth series (2007-2012). Again, similarly to her Wolf and Lamb (2011) video, it is a beautiful, crafted scene imbibed with Gures’ aesthetic of these otherworldly moments. Spots of bright color on a neutral background, or a colorful background with subtle additions. But then, in the title for ‘Looking for the Image,’ we have this play on words, this head game and this world within a world. We see our presumed subject searching for their image or subject, and then, all subject-hood is lost. This plays into Gures’ desire, generally, to navigate what it means to be out of place, tourist in your own ‘home,’ outsider in your own body, voyeur in your own work. In Beyond Beauty, 2015, you see imagery similar to the kind in her videos, and her photographs. The background is a stage, full of association, (here based on color and fabric), and her additions are pointed but also feel random, almost perfunctory. The story and the subject, unclear.
Nevin Aladag’s frees the author. She breaks down ideas connected to authorship like gender binaries and cultural norms through re-appropriation. And, in re-appropriation (of objects, actors, shapes, types, words, etc) she, too, is no longer an omniscient author. She breaks free of the restraints of authorship by turning authorship on itself, by playing games similar to Gures, taking something and hiding or changing it just enough to blur lines. Aladag often adds an element of shock or randomness to what otherwise seems very structured and predictable—so as to beg the question, ‘who is the author?’ Is it the artist, the instruments, the performers, the viewer, the meaning of the thing itself? In her Paravent/Social Fabric 2, 2012, for example, there is her scrupulous lines that while abstract feel near formulaic, which are rendered visible by an eclectic and non-specific array of carpets. She calls it a collage. The carpet pieces are from everywhere and nowhere in particular, they have no one place of origin; and in Paravent, lines and patterns are moving the eye everywhere at once, not even allowing our eye to find a place of origin. Aladag’s Pattern Matching series, (which she calls a carpet collage), uses the shapes and lines of a basketball court, again with those originless but orientalized carpets. It’s another work which breaks down binaries (the home and the world outside, women’s roles and men’s roles, East and West), and devalues and questions authorship and as such, predetermined truths.
This avoidance of answering the question of subject for Gures and the question of author for Aladag is precisely their point, and the breakdown of subject and author for each artist represents an entrypoint into their respective oeuvres. Rampa’s presentation at Frieze London 2015 is a look at the ways in which both Gures and Aladag, through many media and throughout their careers, have dealt with these questions.
Nevin Aladağ (Van, 1972) studied sculpture at the Academie of Fine Arts in Munich. In 2002 she moved to Berlin to complete her residency at Künstlerhaus Bethanien. She lives and works in Berlin. Her installations, video works and performances have shown at
numerous international Museums and Biennials, including the recent ones of the Kunsthalle Basel (2014-15); Art Space Pythagorion, Samos (2014); Istanbul Modern (2014); Sharjah Biennale (2013); Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2012); Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT) (2011); Haus der Kunst Munich (2011); The Hayward Gallery, London (2010); XIV Biennale Internazionale di Scultura, Carrara (2010); The 11th İstanbul Biennial (2009); The Al-Mamal Foundation, Jerusalem (2009); OPEN ev+a, Limerick (2009) and 8th Taipei Biennial, Taiwan, 2008. Aladag had her first solo show at Rampa in 2012 and recent solo show Diapason at Rampa in 2014.
Nilbar Güreş (Istanbul, 1977) received a BA degree in Painting from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Marmara University, İstanbul, and then completed her MA degree in Painting & Graphics from the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna. She lives and works in Vienna. Some of the major exhibitions Güreş participated in are “How To Dream With Thing Don’t Exist”, The 31. Bienal de São Paulo”, São Paulo (2014); “Signs Taken in Wonder”, MAK, Vienna (2013); “Envy, Enmity, Embarrassment”, ARTER, Istanbul (2013); “Rosa Arbeit auf Goldener Strasse”, Akademie des Bildener Kunste Wien, Vienna (2012); “Dream and Reality”, Istanbul Modern, Istanbul (2011); “What is Waiting Out There”, 6th Berlin Biennial, Berlin (2010); “Where Do We Go From Here?”, Secession Vienna, Vienna (2010); “What Keeps Human Kind Alive?”, 11th International İstanbul Biennial, İstanbul (2009) and the travelling exhibition titled “Tactics of Invisibility”, which was previously exhibited at Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna (2010); Tanas, Berlin (2010-2011) and at Arter, İstanbul (2011). Her solo shows include, “Undressing”, MQ, Vienna (2011); “Self-Defloration”, Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, Stuttgart (2011); “Nilbar Güreş”, Rampa, Istanbul (2011), “Nilbar Güreş”, Iniva, London (2010-2011); “Nilbar Güreş: Window Commision 2010″, Rivington Place, London (2010) and “Unknown Sports; Indoor Exercises”, Salzburger Kunstverein, Salzburg (2009). She completed residencies at the Lutetia Building, FAAP’s Artistic Residence Program, São Paulo in 2014; International Studio & Curatorial Program in New York supported by the Austrian Government in 2012. She received the Otto Mauer Award of 2014 in Austria.