Collective memory reshaped with changes in city
Hatice Utkan Özden
Sibel Horada’s artworks depict the story of Taksim. While she is creating the story, her metaphor is water; how water changes the environments as well as how the environment changes the water. In a way, in her recent exhibition at Versus Art Project, she discovers the relationships between urban, archaeological and ecological cultures. While discovering new stories regarding her artworks, she recalls a memory that everyone living in Istanbul can recall -- constructions in the city, how constructions reshaped the way we are living, waterways, squares and demolition of the collective memory that comes within the architecture.
Taksim, construction, national identity, memory, waterways, squares and demolition are the main reference points of the exhibition, she said in a recent interview.
In a way, Horada asks questions that we all need to know and answer: Is it possible to keep the memory of the place? What about the memory of a city? In Horada’s productions, these questions find their answers beyond memory retention, as reproduction and transformation. While Horada uses metaphors to tell her story, she also uses different materials.
Horada took her inspiration from a short film, “The Division [Taqsim] of Water,” which she made in 2020. The video is also a part of the work that she worked on during SAHA Studio between August 2019 and February 2020. What Horada does is a peculiar way of reimagining an artifact (Taksim Maksemi) and turning it into an artwork about the city and collective memory.
“In a way, I can say I studied the Taksim Maksemi and how it lived for ages and how it distributed the water to all neighborhoods and environs. Finally, I realized that the water and its changing ways also changed the city,” Horada said.
In Versus Art Project, it is possible to see how the water from Taksim Maksemi changed its ways and how it is flowing now. The name of the exhibition was also inspired by the flowing of water. Interruption and Flow are meant for the flowing and interrupting of the water through history.
Starting from the difficulty of carrying the past of Taksim Square and imagining its future, her study explores ways of being in touch with space and thinking together.
The installation titled “Making Space in Still Water” (2021), which is about water, one of the most important witnesses of the city, focuses on the blockages and the possibilities of fluidization in Taksim Square.
The map, which traces back the historical waterway stretching from Belgrad Forest to Taksim and continues along the corridor of the gallery, ends with the installation named “Valide” (2021), which includes images taken in the Valide Sultan Dam. In the small room in the middle of the gallery, a beach welcomes viewers, consisting of pieces of styrofoam collected from the seaside in the unmanned bays of Burgazada, where the artist lives.
This work, “Shaped by Water” (2021), based on living with contamination, aesthetics and practices of belonging, invites viewers to reflect on the concepts of nature and naturalness. The newspaper, one of the biggest witnesses of the passing of time, is another material in the exhibition.
The exhibition will run until the end of this year.