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Hera Büyüktaşçıyan, The Relic, 2016

Wood, bronze and marble mosaic

Writing on marble is not easy, but the title of Hera Büyüktaşçıyan’s latest solo exhibition, Write Injuries on Sand and Kindness in Marble—a proverb found in many cultures, including Gulf countries and France—seemingly ignores this fact. In fact, marble emerges as a deceptively attractive menace, an elusive signifier of slippery semiotic value, in such works as Chanting if I live, forgetting it I die, 2016, a kinetic sculpture that features a row of moving piano-key-like off-white marble slabs on a simple plank of wood.

Compared to an earlier, larger wooden version twice exhibited in Istanbul, whose motion-activated “keys” together resembled a pier, these levers are short and narrow; their significantly quieter mechanism, as a result, harkens back to a transcultural history of automata for the world’s elite across ages. However, implying a similar loss of ground with the uncoordinated movement of individual slabs, the work also constitutes an eerie overture about the past of Al Quoz, where the gallery is located, as a former marble factory.

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