I Heard it from the Valleys
Opening 1st of October 2021
Performance “The Wave” (choreographer: Evi Souli, dancer: Themis Chantzi) 6pm and 8pm
Duration 2 October – 05 November 2021
Participating artists:Hera Büyüktaşçıyan, Aslι Çavuşoğlu, Anastasia Douka, Marina Papazyan, Evi Souli, VASKOS (Vasilis Noulas & Kostas Tzimoulis) curated by Eva Vaslamatzi
The show presents a series of new productions linked through techniques, narratives and symbols related to the expansive field of folk art. Artists are confronted with these traces of the recent past, retrieved and transferred through their work in an attempt at connecting or distancing themselves from them. Folk production and forms of knowledge, mainly anonymous, are approached here as a field of inspiration and possibility for understanding forms and behaviors which function individually and independently from grander national narratives. Each work, with references to textiles, ceramics, dance, folk medicine and fairy tales amongst others, is a reminder of different models of life, production and economies linked often with provincial regions, the pre-eminent spaces where folk art flourishes. While also incorporating the notion of the urban landscape as an ongoing province, the exhibition focuses on the constant reliance of humans on their environment and the transfer of these relations into the material world.
Marina Papazyan’s story begins with the phrase “Once upon a village”. Walking in her neighborhood in Istanbul, Tatavla, she looks for signs that reveal its previous life; more rural, more festive, more free. At the door of the church of Agios Dimitrios she notices an iron handle in the shape of a demon surrounded by wheat - it reminds her of Baklohorani, the carnival organized on the last Monday before Lent by the Greek community and which last took place in 1943. Thus begins a narrative exploration of the landscape, the landmarks and the rituals associated with it, which are transformed and reshaped through her gaze and body, as she - or Elenitsa, the protagonist of the story - moves through it. VASKOS (Vasilis Noulas & Kostas Tzimoulis) also talk about symbols in their work, how they relate to our body today and the identities it seeks to appropriate. They experiment with the look that comes from outside, on the occasion of a series of engravings of the 18th century by the French architect and designer Ennemond Alexandre Petitot in which the “Greek style” is depicted, with a series of disguises made of architectural and decorative elements. Using images from traditional ceramics and especially the pitcher, they try variations of the engravings with themselves as protagonists, reinventing the usability of the objects and the notion of exoticism.
Anastasia Douka works on the loom she has at home. The boundaries of the house and its rooms determine the dimensions of its weaver. She thinks of nothing when she weaves, some colors and symbols pass before her eyes, but she is in no hurry to render them. She thinks of the fabric as an entity that undergoes many changes until -on the occasion of the museum exhibit- it takes on a final form, with points that are stretched and others that fold, in studied creases and pleats. Here, the fabric does not have a familiar or distinctive shape and is placed in a random but irreversible zigzag line. Using pieces of carpets, Hera Büyüktaşçıyan also experiments with surfaces that reveal or hide, express or absorb. One on top of the other, it is as if they are resting from the weight of their symbolism and the pressure they receive when used. If one approaches one notices that they are speaking, they are carrying cryptic messages, like “a language or a musical score that enables various particles of time to coexist and looks into what the ground remembers”*.
Asli Çavuşoğlu isolates and magnifies symbols of the past, from a book with patterns for weaving socks from Turkey, through which one could glean information about the personal life of their owner.
She renders these symbols with a mixture of water and St-John’s wort, which has antidepressant properties - a symbolic healing offering addressed to the fabric painted with red pine color, for the fires that devastated the two countries in the summer. Together with the labdanum, from the village of Sisses in Crete, which used to subsist on its production, she disinfects the space, activating practices with references to customs and popular beliefs. Evi Souli creates a vocabulary of folk dance gestures based on zeibekiko, a dance practiced by women in some areas, through her choreography. The Turkish word dalga, means “wave”, and is interpreted here as a heavy inner feeling that gradually overwhelms us and is physically expressed. The symbolism of the movements unfolds like a language, which through repetition and common gestures gradually becomes understood.
*Excerpt of Hera Büyüktaşçıyan’s text
The exhibition I heard it from the valleys is the result of the participation of Eva Vaslamatzi (SNF ARTWORKS Fellow) in the Curatorial Residency Program at SAHA Association in Istanbul (May-June 2021) made possible by ARTWORKS and with the support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF).
Photographs by: Alexandra Masmanidi
Aslı Çavuşoğlu examines the way in which cultural and historical facts are transformed, represented, and interpreted by individuals. Working across various media, Çavuşoğlu often assumes the role of an interpreter, writer or facilitator in her projects in order to highlight the precarious and subjective nature of our shared histories. Recent solo shows include Pink as a Cabbage / Green as an Onion / Blue as an Orange, Kadist, Paris (2020); With Just the Push of a Voice, MASS MoCA, Massachusetts (2020); The Place of Stone, New Museum, New York (2018); Red / Red, MATHAF Arab Museum of Modern Art, Qatar (2016); In Diverse Estimations Little Moscow, RISD Museum, Providence (2014); The Stones Talk, ARTER, Istanbul (2013); Murder in Three Acts, Delfina Foundation, London (2013); group exhibitions and biennials include; Palais de Tokyo (Paris, 2020), Moderna Museet (Stockholm, 2017), Castello di Rivoli (Torino, 2019 & 2017), Manifesta 11 (Zurich, 2016), 14th Istanbul Biennial (Istanbul, 2015), New Museum Triennial (New York, 2015), Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art (Rotterdam, 2014), MAK Museum in Vienna (Vienna), and Performa 11 (New York, 2011). Her works are included in international collections such as; Arter (Istanbul), British Museum (London), Castello di Rivoli (Turin), MATHAF (Qatar), MoMA (New York) and Kadist (Paris / San Francisco).
Anastasia Douka is a visual artist working with sculptural media. She believes that everything constructed can break, be reconstructed and then break once again (or at least it has the potential). Douka holds an MFA, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago as a New Artists Society Trustees’ Merit Scholar and an MA in Digital Arts from Athens School of Fine Arts. She has been a resident artist with Fondation d’Entreprise Hermès (Paris), Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (Νew York), Yaddo Colony (New York) and Salzburg International Academy (Salzburg). She has been awarded the Toby Devan Lewis Fellowship, Chicago, the DESTE Prize, Athens and Artworks Fellowship, Athens. Selected recent collaborations include: ΝΕΟΝ organization, DESTE Foundation, 3 137 artist run space, Benaki Museum, Alserkal Foundation (Dubai), Le Forum (Tokyo), Palais de Tokyo, Werft 5 (Cologne) and Athens Biennale.
Marina Papazyan is an artist and writer. They thread together semi-fictions about themself by way of writing, voicing and recording. Their works rely on the body as a source of grammar where it is mainly through pores, cavities and intestines that the world is sensed and told. Their texts reflect a sense of self that is fragmented, speaking through multiple channels with varying degrees of confession and contradiction, scarcity and disguise.
Photographer: Alexandra Masmanidi