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Contemporary Turkish Art To Show In New Plymouth

A rare and unique insight into contemporary Turkish art and society will be afforded to New Zealand audiences from 13 April.

From Far Away So Close presents the work of four leading Turkish woman artists in a single exhibition at New Plymouth’s Govett-Brewster Art Gallery from 13 April to 9 June.

Recent worldwide focus on the role and status of women in Islamic cultures adds additional relevance to the exhibition. Themes of restriction and entrapment underscore several of the works, reflecting the plight of women in many Eastern European societies. Turkish women are among the most liberated in the Muslim world, yet still bound by cultural circumstances. In spite of this the artists seek, through these works, to promote a communication and understanding that is not constrained by geographic or cultural boundaries.

The title of the exhibition, From Far Away So Close, initially seems to highlight the geographic and cultural distance between Turkey and New Zealand in contrast with our nation’s shared history and shared position in the global situation. In the presence of the art works themselves, the title takes on new relevance. While the apparent accessibility of the works promotes a familiar presence, it retains a sense of distance due to social and cultural characteristics.

Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Director Greg Burke is thrilled to present the exhibition to New Zealand Audiences.

“The introduction of the Istanbul Biennale has significantly lifted the status and credibility of contemporary Turkish art. The works featured in this exhibition are important examples of works coming out of modern day Turkey. The exhibition presents a very rare opportunity to view work of this calibre in New Zealand.” Says Burke.

The show is installation based, with three of the artists working in video and their thought-provoking work explores fresh approaches to installation and video art. Only two works from each artist are presented in the show, forcing the viewer to view them in detail.

The artists featured in the exhibition; Füsun Onur, Günes Savas’, Elif Çelebi and Selda Asal, all work in modern day Istanbul, and are at the forefront of the emerging Turkish contemporary art scene.

Füsun Onur, has created an installation specifically for the Govett-Brewster from ready-made objects. Portable stools, in this case, have been liberated from their everyday function by being wrapped in large bows of blue tulle. Onur, the most internationally recognized of the four artists,

Günes Savas’ chaotic video work is made with hand held video techniques – not by the artist herself – but by two girls who feature in the works. Instead of being behind the camera, the artist uses a distanced vantage point, completely surrendering the camera to the girls.

By contrast, Elif Çelebi works are filmed from a stationary camera but again observe natural phenomena. One work, based on a monitor, traces the painfully slow journey of a snail along a wall, and another documents insects drawn to a sweet-smelling but ultimately toxic glass of soft drink.

The most political of the works on show are those of Selda Asal. Based around themes of psychological entrapment and the role of women in modern Turkish society, Asal’s House of Glass 2000 projection utilises video images of a woman trapped behind a window. The subject is open to the gaze of passing people, giving a voyeuristic quality to the work, alluding to the global perception of Islamic women. Her video installation Me Myself and I also seeks to candidly engage the viewer. In this case the frame becomes that of a picture, within which the artist is portrayed from three different vantage points.

The Govett-Brewster is the sole New Zealand venue for the exhibition which comes from leading German art museum, the Kunsthalle Baden-Baden in Germany, where it was curated by Margrit Brehm.


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