We, Elsewhere, a new site-specific work by İnci Eviner is currently on view at the Pavilion of Turkey at the 58th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, until 24 November 2019. Organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) and sponsored by Fiat, the Pavilion of Turkey is curated by Zeynep Öz and located at Sale d’Armi, which is one of the main exhibition venues of La Biennale di Venezia.
Pavilion of Turkey at the 58th Venice Biennale. Photo: Poyraz Tutuncu
We, Elsewhere is an investigation into the spaces that we create and that are created for us as a result of collective displacement. The exhibition reflects on how subjects who find themselves in these spaces react and interact with one another and with their memories. Various sound elements, reconfigured objects and material characters crafted by İnci Eviner evoke the sense of a search for the missing, the erased and that which is elsewhere. A certain aggression and abruptness comes out in the characters’ everyday behaviour informing their identities as in transition. The space itself, in which visitors are invited to walk along ramps, courtyards and edges, displays permeability, allowing views through cuts and cracks in the walls. Punctuated by the objects, the paths suggest the way in which memory eases conflict. Together, the characters, the space and the paths tell a story akin to Hannah Arendt’s narrative of struggle in We Refugees.
Eviner’s practice, which spans various media to focus on questions of subjectivity, investigates how the individual’s corporeality shapes their psyche and behavior. She sets up the architectural component in We, Elsewhere like a stage, which acts as a mediator between herself, the viewer and the characters she crafts. In this way, the characters – whose subjectivities are continuously shifting as they attempt to reinvent themselves – are projected onto the viewer. The use of repurposed elements and sections from spaces of confinement, as well as the employment of moving images tracing the outlines of characters in suspense, evokes a sense of transition. When passing through the space, viewers are confronted with their own conditioning and subject position, thereby gaining access to psyches of loss.
Eviner’s drawings are the starting point for her process; they function as mental tools that interweave the various media she uses with the concepts she explores. The stage that she constructs in We, Elsewhere has a precedent in the work Co-action Device: A Study (2013), where the structure operated as ongoing performative research into forms of ‘political oppression and restrictions in many aspects of life’. In a similar vein, We, Elsewhere outlines a space in which subjects hear their own voices in a moment of transition and re-formation somewhere between the unrevisability of their histories and the fragility of the unknown, between optimism and despair.
The stage in We, Elsewhere houses subjects who are reminiscing about the past, feeling both their proximity to and distance from those with whom they cohabit, and projecting their anticipations onto the future. These characters are searching for the proper means and spaces to store their memories. In the meantime, they are also figuring out how to build their new lives, and to navigate new literal, visual and psychological languages with which they find themselves surrounded.
Eviner received prizes from the Sharjah Art Biennial in 2017 (13 Prize); she was also invited to artist residencies such as Rauschenberg Foundation in Florida, Headlands Center for the Arts in California, SAM Art Projects in Paris and MAC/VAL Paris. She displayed her works in important solo exhibitions such as Beneath the Horizonat Galeri Nev Istanbul (2017), Who’s Inside You?at Istanbul Modern Museum, Turkey (2016); Runaway Girlsat The Drawing Center New York, USA (2015); Broken Manifestosat Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France (2011); Haremat Art in the Auditorium in Whitechapel Gallery London, UK (2009). Eviner also attended a number of biennials worldwide including the Liverpool Biennial (2018), Gwangju Biennial (2018) and 13th Istanbul Biennial (2013). The artist’s works are included in globally important institutional collections such as Deutsche Bank Collection, Center Pompidou in Paris, Istanbul Modern Museum, Guggenheim and TBA21 Wien. Eviner is also a lecturer at Kadir Has University, Faculty of Art and Design. She lives and works in Istanbul, Turkey.
Zeynep Öz is a curator based in Istanbul. She is currently curating the BACA Award exhibition of Marwan Rechmaoui at the Bonnefantenmuseum. Shewas one of the interlocutors of the Sharjah Biennial 13, curating the biennial’s off-site project in Istanbul in 2017, as well as Co-Curator of the Aichi Triennale 3 in 2016. Öz was the co-founder and director of the Spot Production Fund from 2011 to 2017, during which she curated the Produce series (I, II, III). She also curated the film programme Greatest Common Factor, at SALT, Istanbul (2016), the project Plastic Veinsat Home Works VI, Ashkal Alwan, Beirut (2013), and Selling Snails in the Muslim Neighborhoodat the Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster (2013). Öz has been on the curricular and selection committees of Home Workspace Programme of Ashkal Alwan in Beirut since 2015.
For this project, İnci Eviner works with professionals from different disciplines. The architectural design of the project was created by Birge Yıldırım Okta and Gürkan Okta, while the sound design is by Tolga Tüzün. The video which will be shown at the Pavilion of Turkey will include the performance artists and dancers Canan Yücel Pekiçten, Melih Kıraçand Gülden Arsal. Director of photography of the video is Aydın Sarıoğluand the video post-production team includes Cem Gökçimenand Cem Perin.
The exhibition’s visual identity and the upcoming book, which will accompany the exhibition and will be available at the opening of the Pavilion of Turkey, are designed by Okay Karadayılar and Ali Taptık (ONAGÖRE).
The Advisory Board of the Pavilion of Turkey at the 58th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia consists of Serhan Ada fromBilgi University, Department ofArts and Cultural Management, Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation Culture and Art Enterprises General Manager Özalp Birol, curator and Art Advisor at Istanbul Modern Museum Paolo Colombo, Prof. Dr. Zeynep İnankur from Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Department of Western and Contemporary Art and Başak Doğa Temür, curator at Arter.
The Pavilion of Turkey at La Biennale di Venezia is coordinated by Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV)and realised through the sponsorship of Fiat, with the production support of SAHA Association with the contribution of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey. The Pavilion of Turkey’s long term venue opened at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia in 2014 for the first time, upon a 20-year allotment of the Arsenale with İKSV’s initiation and the contribution of 21 supporters.