artist: Alban Muja, Aya Ben Ron, Ceren Oykut, Luchezar Boyadjiev, Gözde İlken, Erik Göngrich, İlgen Arzık, Maria Loizidou and Yane Calovski.
coordinates: Istanbul, 2012
The idea of this project derives from the perceptual response to drawing as a conceptual language. The title “White” is substituted in Turkish as “Siyah”, which means ‘black’. This word game with the translation of the title implies the uncertainty and the complexity beneath the ‘coded’ oppositions. While the application of black and white could directly refer to a perceptual opposition, both of these colours have their own physical and rhetorical characteristics and are simply different by definition. In the same line of thought, each artist in this exhibition responds to complicated and conflicting strategies and languages, thus allowing the exhibition to cast a light on what is neglected, missing, abstracted, but nonetheless intoxicating and destructive in the practice of ‘drawing’. This examination appears as a direct reaction to developing a conceptual language that is at once a destructive, menacing, and impossible system of forms. While each work is distinct in terms of visuality and concept, they share interest in researching the potential of drawing as critical practice unbound by rules and methods.
Most of the works are also processes of repetitive acts trapped within conflicting and unresolved situations. The act of looping repetitive gestures and lines accumulates the sense of being trapped in a vicious circle.
“White” is also an attempt to look closer into the drawings of artists Alban Muja, Aya Ben Ron, Ceren Oykut, Luchezar Boyadjiev, Gözde İlkin, Erik Göngrich, İlgen Arzık, Maria Loizidou, and Yane Calovski. The relationship between the works are analyzed not so much through a potential conceptual methodology or a shared thematic imposition, but rather through specific reasons in applying a direct constrain – using only the colours black and white.
Alban Muja’s “New York, New York” (2010) drawings are the abstract expressions of his cognitive mapping of New York City. These drawings, which document his urban experience with black and white traces, show the artist’s repetitive daily routine.
On the other hand, Aya Ben Ron extracts her subject matter from gynecology textbooks which describe newborns. As Ben Ron expresses, “Relief” (2010) is a piece about the baby as an autarkic and omnipotent economy. A baby that lives in harmony with the machine to the point that the very contradictory articulation between both elements does not appear here as an impossibility or as the utmost injustice. What we observe cannot be judged through categories of good and bad, of life and lack of life”. In this respect, Ben Ron’s work refers both to an ongoing repetitive act while underlining the fact that two different situations (the mother-dependent baby and the machine-dependent baby) are not necessarily opposed to each other.
Yane Calovski’s “Drawings from the portfolio ‘Obsessive Setting’” (2010) are rendered in white ink, appearing to be barely present. Even when an image begins to appear from the whiteness of the page, it is hardly recognizable. This subtle existence of the image demonstrates the artist’s obsession with the process of “articulating disappearance”. In this context, the sensitively delineated traces of various documents (excavated from official as well as private architectural archives in Skopje) pertain to tell us something about the way we tend to delve deep in the repetitive patterns of memory.
In like manner, Gözde İlkin’s work “Müstakill” (2009-2011) is a book produced by intervention through sewing onto fabric. It expresses an individual structure with explicit borders. “Müstakill” comprises stitched drawings and imprints, which simultaneously indicate both liberty and self-destruction through cyclic juxtapositions.
Maria Loizidou’s video work “Self-Other” (2006) consists of a series of pencil drawings where the figures of two Siamese twins (connected back to back) attempt to put on a coat made for two. This is a difficult move because of their connection as they are dependent on each other, and yet, the act is constantly on a loop. The work refers to the Cyprus Problem that has been on a loop without resolution for over three decades now.
Luchezar Boyadjiev’s works also reflect on social, political, and urban-based realities and transformations. For this project, his contribution is two drawings (No: 1 and No: 7) extracted from the work “Alice’s Hole or the Swamp of Marxist-Leninist Aesthetics”, which dates back to 1991. The work is an installation interlacing multilayered iconography, with criticism on the definition of ‘artist’. It overlaps classical handling of line with unorthodox imagery and composition, ironically pointing to the constant presence of traps and cycles in contemporary art. The two selected drawings present the main points of the work in a spiral of doubled meanings and forms.
In the same vein, Erik Göngrich’s series “Sculptural Politics 03” (2011) underlines today’s ongoing repetitive traps in contemporary art –especially for artists- by taking the reception of the public into consideration. His black and white drawings have typographic elements to duplicate his statements both literally and visually. His inclination to using a slide projector to show these particular drawings suggests criticism on the relentless conditions of the contemporary art world and the fast-consumed reactions.
Ceren Oykut processes urban realities and juxtaposed and/or parallel situations that surround her daily life. Small details in her work reveal a number of social and political aspects that she is reflecting on. In “Field” (2011), she works on a number of individual pieces in varied sizes. While each piece is self-sufficient to generate meaning and criticism individually, their relationship to each other forms a number of different narrations.
İlgen Arzık’s work “The Event” (2011) is also based on constructing narration with a certain lack of information. Although she gives hints about the narrative, the story is always completed by the imagination of the audience. With this work, she amplifies the tension for a possible plot not only with a single drawing, but also with a complimentary one which can be only seen from a reflection in a mirror. This time, the audience is being trapped and controlled by the positioning of the work.
* Translated as “Siyah” in Turkish.