Gozde İlkin’s ‘Reverie of Space’ opens in İzmir
Nazlan Ertan - İzmir
A large mural showing Istanbul’s phallic symbol, the Galata Tower, dominates the sunny exhibition hall of the French Institute of İzmir in the exposition “The Reverie of Space” by Gözde İlkin.
The dominant work in the exhibition, which will continue until Nov. 12, is İlkin’s work, “Bosporus Tour,” which creates a complex scene of Istanbul on a tissue using mixed techniques. Showing seven Galata Towers side by side, each with a boat and a lighthouse in front of them, the mural highlights constant construction and reconstruction in the ever-expanding metropolis.
The exhibition is the only parallel activity that the 15th Istanbul Biennial - perhaps the preeminent regular event in Turkey’s contemporary art scene - has in another city this year. İlkin’s tissues are already exhibited in Istanbul, in room devoted to her works at the Pera Museum. “When we asked her whether she would also be able to manage another exhibition, she agreed and set to work,” said Bige Örer, the director of the biennial.
The theme of the biennial this year is the emotionally loaded but flexible “A good neighbor.” In İlkin’s work in İzmir, the seven different versions of the Galata Tower, including one that resembles the Tower of Babel, stand side by side in a neighborly fashion, but the cityscape around them vary greatly. One has policemen hovering next to it – perhaps a wink to the 2013 Gezi Park protests. Several of the others are surrounded by construction sites – a reference to the city in a perpetual state of reconstruction, particularly around the Galata area that has changed from impoverished to hip in two decades.
Female figures are seen in graceful gestures in air, (“Breathing room for women,” explains the artist), while several men are seen peeing at the Galata Tower, in a scene that is often spotted in the early hours of the morning as Galata’s bars and pubs close. Goats climb skyscrapers and an island has a sign saying “Luxury Area.” Overall, the work presents a surreal picture of Istanbul but the figures are very familiar.
One of the other works at the exhibition is “Reverie of Space,” which gave its name to the exhibition and which is made of naked figures embroidered on a tissue. Created in 2017, the piece illustrates an imaginary landscape – an almost-paradise with huge flora.
Born in 1981 in Kütahya, İlkin first came to Istanbul to attend the Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts. “I keep discovering and re-discovering Istanbul,” she said, cheerful and upbeat. Her concept of urban space, sea and memory is also linked to one of the local activities, PORTİZMİR4 Triennial, which has the theme “Breathe” this year.
İlkin’s interest lies in objects that reflect cultural codes and collective memory, so she works with fabrics found or discovered at her own home and combines stitching, needlework and paintings. With them, she creates images that almost always have a hidden meaning, almost giving a humorous wink to the spectator to suggest that there is some secret hidden in her work.