ARTIST BUYUKTASCIYAN’S QUERY ON ‘UNSAID WORDS’ IN ATHENS GALLERY
Today’s Zaman, Turkey
Feb 24 2015
Contemporary artist Hera BuyuktaÃ…~_cÃ„Â±yan, known for her eloquent
site-specific installations on issues related to identity, memory
and history, is currently showcasing a solo exhibition at the State
of Concept gallery in Athens, the only non-profit contemporary art
institution in the Greek capital.
Titled “Fishbone,” this is BuyuktaÃ…~_cÃ„Â±yan’s first solo exhibition in
Greece, which has a significant role in the artist’s life since she is
Greek on her mother’s side and thus Athens is a place where the artist
can confront that part of her identity. “This is why I approached this
exhibition differently and in time the work became site-specific,”
BuyuktaÃ…~_cÃ„Â±yan said during a recent interview with Today’s Zaman.
“In the beginning, I was making these small feet shapes out of a
bronze material and when I put wooden parts onto them, I started to
question what they were turning into. Then I remembered some of my
childhood memories I had recalled in one of my previous visits to
Athens. It was about the problems I had related to talking in Greek
in my childhood. My father is Armenian and my mother is half-Greek,
half-Armenian so as a consequence we spoke Armenian at home. My
mother’s relatives used to call me the ‘quiet child’ because I
couldn’t talk in Greek with them. Although I internalized the language
completely and felt it to be something of my own, I always felt it
was stuck in my throat and never came out. I can read and write and
understand people speaking Greek but still cannot respond. I dealt
with this issue in my previous works, too. The theme of having a lump
in my throat is something I have been thinking about a lot. I’m trying
to figure things out one by one,” BuyuktaÃ…~_cÃ„Â±yan said, noting that
“fishbone” became a metaphor for this process.
The main installation, titled “The Stranger in my Throat,” is the
centerpiece of the exhibition, held in a gallery that used to be a
glove shop in the past. “There is a table which was used in this shop
and many artists have included it in their exhibitions before me,”
BuyuktaÃ…~_cÃ„Â±yan noted. A line she created with small bronze leg-shaped
statuettes resembles a huge fishbone extending from that table.
The artist said she read a lot of books on fishing and related issues
during the preparation process and finally found herself at the port of
Piraeus near Athens. “I collected several crates fishermen use there
and included them in the show,” she said. A green curtain at the top
of the table also evokes the idea of fishing, and together with the
green stones on the floor gives the impression of being underwater.
On the walls of the gallery are several drawings that are linked
to the idea of things that cannot be uttered or come out. While
BuyuktaÃ…~_cÃ„Â±yan was artist in residence at the Delfina Foundation in
the United Kingdom, she had the chance to visit the East coast. “While
walking on the beach I saw giant iron ropes half buried in the sand.
Later on I learned that these were the submarine cables installed
between the UK and France [during the] 1800s. They are in fact the
first telegram cables in the world. I was really moved by the idea of
connecting two countries — connecting lands underwater. I started to
think about the invisibility of connection. They are disconnected on
the surface of the water but are actually connected underneath.” Her
drawings in the exhibition are based on gravures she collected from
libraries and archives that depict workers installing submarine cables
in different countries in the past.
In a press statement announcing the show, the gallery describes
“Fishbone” as an “intervention of revealing hidden aspects of memory,
stuck in the ‘throat’ of the mind.”
“Things that have been nailed and forgotten at murky corners of time
do not allow the new to pass through in order to become visible. A
fishbone may get stuck during a moment when an unexpected particle
of language is about to flow out. It is like a wreck that carries
the sharp edges of time, and scrapes everything whilst coming out
from the spot it is plunged,” the press release continues.
“This exhibition is an attempt to remove those bits of sharp edges
one by one in order to see what has been blocking the path of unsaid
words and unspoken memories. The fragments in the show, such as the
bronze-legged organisms, the works on paper — in a dialogue with a
saint and an angel who heal and bless throats that are blocked by
aspects of time — are a gathering of different memories from the
“Fishbone” is on display until April 4 at State of Concept in Athens.