A Carriage Affair
May 10th – June 21st 2014
Galeri Zilberman, İstanbul, Turkey
Bingöl’s second solo exhibition with the gallery takes inspiration from Recaizade Mahmut Ekrem’s classic novel “Araba Sevdası” (A Carriage Affair). Written in 1896, the novel is more than a typical love story: it recounts dominant positions in relation to class, decorum and modernity and mirrors Turkey’s desire to level with the West. Adopting a humorous and at times, sarcastic tone, the novelist aptly conveys the modern Turk’s confused state of mind. As a consequence of the Westernization project, the identity ofthe modern Turk is fragmented: disjointed from the Ottoman past, s/he hovers between East and West, between past and present. Addressing questions of identity, collective consciousness and art production in her latest exhibition, Bingöl attempts to capture this “in-between” state of mind, and offers a set of new possibilities that bridge past and present, formalism and intuition, concept and decoration.
A new series of works on paper reflects the artist’s dense cultural heritage and extends her continued fascination with patterns. Acknowledging the influence of Ottoman and Islamic tradition, Bingöl copies, traces, recreating, she gives space to a whole tradition to emerge while essentially focusing on the creative process. The centrepiece of A Carriage Affair is the front part of a life size truck, cast in ceramics. The truck, a symbol of the industrial revolution, is the epitome of modernity and progress. At the same time it represents a heavy cultural burden, which many contemporary artists from Turkey would be tempted to shake off. Bingöl “feminizes” its rigid structure through the conscious choice of material and the ornamentation, inspired by traditional Turkish floral patterns. The result is an impressive construction that conveys the fragility of existence and the precariousness of identity, and seeks to “side track” assumptions about gender, art and cultural stereotypes. The desire for transformation and de-canonization of art is also evident in the series of small playful sculptures, consisting of mechanical parts dressed in sumptuous velvet: parts, which often go unnoticed and yet are vital in bringing a system together, are now deployed purely for aesthetic pleasure. Similarly, dramatically lit small ceramic sculptures made of industrial parts such as Shift I & II convey an eerie sense of beauty. Through the plethora of references, A Carriage Affair outlines some of the problems of the periphery and embraces multiculturalism and humanism as pathways to the future.