Hera Büyüktaşcıyan, Earthbound Whisperers (still), 2023
This summer Tate St Ives opens an exhibition of new work by Hera Büyüktaşcıyan. Earthbound Whisperers is the result of Büyüktaşcıyan’s 2022 residency at Tate St Ives, during which she became fascinated with Cornwall’s megalithic stones and the legends related to them. Displayed as a constellation of graphite drawings on layered textile, with camouflaged lithic forms that stand in different shades of green, this new installation explores the relationship between the body and landscape.
Inspired by the Nine Maidens standing stones in Cornwall, the artist surveys the underlying dynamics of surface and invisibility through these anthropomorphic monoliths. According to Celtic legend, the maidens were petrified for singing during the Sabbath. Büyüktaşcıyan draws a parallel between these mythical characters and female workers at the Crysède silk factory in St Ives who worked in silence while making camouflage netting to conceal military and civilian buildings during World War Two. With these references, silence becomes an agent in the creation of obscure and imaginary topographies while translating threads of fragility within terrestrial memory bearing the weight of history.
Büyüktaşcıyan references these social and environmental histories of Cornwall in her use of textile, graphite, sound and upright forms. Her sculpted fabric forms embody lithic surfaces concealed within the drapes and folds, symbolic of archaeological strata and imaginary landscapes. Accompanied by a sound piece, it creates a vocalised landscape that visitors are invited to meander among. Through this composition, Büyüktaşcıyan not only explores human traces in nature, but also the politics of invisibility and the accumulated histories within.
Hera Büyüktaşcıyan was born 1984 in Istanbul, Turkey and lives and works in Istanbul. A version of this installation is being shown at the 14th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea, April-June 2023). A limited-edition journal about Hera Büyüktaşcıyan’s research in Cornwall and the development of this work is available from the Tate St Ives shop.
Earthbound Whisperers is curated by Anne Barlow, Director, with Giles Jackson, Assistant Curator, Tate St Ives. Commissioned by Tate St Ives and the 14th Gwangju Biennale. Supported by SAHA – Supporting Contemporary Art from Turkey.