Exhibition view: Arter, 2022
Photos: flufoto (Barış Aras & Elif Çakırlar)
Earth, moss, lichen, live plants, fungi, stones, unfired clay, papier-mâché, styrofoam
190 x 490 x 240 cm
Ignited by the “idea of nature” that the Locus Solus exhibition embraces, Sojourn is a site-specific installation produced by Yaşam Şaşmazer within the framework of the relations between nature and culture. In this large-scale installation shaped around the motif of the “island”, which has inspired countless representations and narrations throughout history and given
rise to discourses, thoughts and ideas by nourishing imagination, the artist places bodies created out of mud and stones made of paper, together with such natural materials as moss, stones, tree branches and plants on a terrain made of soil. This imaginary island, created by means of artificial and natural materials in a delimited space, generates a distinct geography, a habitat and even a world of its own. Through the theme of the “desert island”, a frequent trope in the history of literature, philosophy and art, the work summons such concepts as loneliness and remoteness, presenting the viewer with a multi-layered terrain that allows for a questioning of the human-centered perspective, and for a reflection on the multiple ways in which human and non-human beings, living and non-living singularities can be associated. Being both a product of the human hand and of imagination, Sojourn may also be experienced as a threshold between paradise and hell, nature and culture, existence and extinction, the physical and symbolic worlds.
The topography conceived by Şaşmazer also differs from the motif of the “deserted island”: in this particular place, where frontiers and categories fade, sliding toward abstraction, heterogenous beings, the natural and the artificial, the human and the non-human, are almost indistinguishably interwoven, positioned in a state of interaction so as to form a whole. The artist, who ensures the colour unity of the body parts she has produced from mud and the stones made of paper, points to the mutual belonging between living and non-living things. Highlighting the concepts of temporality and mortality through the mud bodies that will dissolve in time, the work renders visible processes inherent in the various materials it employs and enables the transformation of forms. Although it may seem to place the viewer face-to-face with a timeless, universal landscape, Sojourn, through the natural materials it is made of, actually creates an earthly non-place, vulnerable to erosion and destruction, subject to time.
Photos by: Sena Nur Taştekne
Curator: Selen Ansen
The exhibition Locus Solus takes the idea of “nature” as its centre with the aim of exploring its facets through the lens of facts, fictions and emotions. The exhibition is concerned with the ways in which nature and culture permeate and affect each other; how organic processes and natural environments intersect with human agency and edifices. In the exhibition, “nature” stands primarily as a relational notion which enables to rethink the vast array of connections between places, non-human and human beings. It unfolds as a multi-layered construct which is shaped by shared narratives, rituals, elements from the collective unconscious, and individual experiences; and which in return, mirrors human fears and desires. Addressing our contrasted relationship with the places, beings and processes we generally refer to as “nature”, the works on display stage the reciprocal interplay between heterogeneous realms and formulate a network whose constituents, whether material or not, interconnect. Here, past mirrors future, fantasy encapsulates reality, the physical bonds with the metaphysical, the visible echoes the invisible, that which exists conveys the memory of that which is gone and foreshadows what is yet to come. Above all, the exhibition is grounded in the realisation that nature isn’t merely a catalogue of things and beings that exist, grow, and perish outside of us, and the conviction that the natural character of nature can no longer be taken for granted.
Locus Solus is conceived at once as a place and a journey. It brings together selected works from the Arter Collection with several large-scale installations, including site-specific new productions. The title of the exhibition, meaning “solitary place” or “unique place” in Latin, is borrowed from the novel with the same name by Raymond Roussel which takes the reader on a stroll among eerie man-made inventions and marvellous artefacts installed in the park of a villa. Alluding to the theatrical universe of Roussel’s novel, the title Locus Solus sheds light on the spatial emphasis of the exhibition while opening up a territory in which images and symbols travel beyond physical borders.
Locus Solus is a solitary place, provided that no place is uninhabited, and no island is deserted. In other words, this place is solitary in a deceptive sense. It is populated with plenty of realms and territories of various scales, since a single place would not suffice to contain the many solitudes. Each exhibited work presents a world in its own right, in which the natural and the artificial don’t merely cohabitate; they also mingle and collide. Visitors who step into the exhibition may find themselves wandering among extinct territories, subconscious landscapes, foreign lands, fictive rooms, heres, elsewheres and nowheres, wonderlands, heavenly, earthly and subterranean realms, and places that cities hardly provide – mountains, forests, islands, deserts, and even paradises. While journeying among these existing or imagined, physical or mental spaces, they may eventually sense that they are walking in the footsteps of past lives, inherited practices, perpetuated images and discourses.
Referencing the idea of “nature”, these works position us at a crossroads between human and non-human realms, while allowing us to experience space and geography from an affective perspective. On the basis that nature and culture are far from being mutually exclusive categories, they are keen on breaking with the fixity of established categories. At the same time, however, they refrain from casting aside the deep-rooted dichotomies that have been established throughout history. Rather, they turn these dichotomies into an active struggle which generates novel forms and brings forth new connections. In so doing, they offer the possibility to problematise, expand, renew the relationships between mineral, vegetable, animal and human existences; and disclose non-linear kinships between inert things and sentient beings. Articulating darkness and light, growth and decay, oblivion and remembrance, tragedy and wonder, the journey provides us with a circular itinerary reminiscent of the cyclical iterative structure of myths and tales. Should this journey without a destination have an aim, it would intend to liberate imagination from subordination to the linear, progress-driven course of contemporary societies.