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Modern Painters

The Land Across The Blind, Hera Büyüktaşçıyan

Installation view at Galeri Manâ, Istanbul, Turkey, 2014

The feeling of submersion is immediate. A large sculpture dominates the gallery’s ground floor—an oversize cast-iron balcony that seems to have sunk at the bottom, tilted on its side. A thick marine rope extends from the outside to the center of the space where the balcony has landed. The end of the rope meets a heavy chain buried in a small hole dug in the floor (one of Büyüktaşçıyan’s earlier site-specific works), which evokes the old cistern just beneath the renovated 19th-century building. More than a symbol, the rope physically connects the interior and exterior, to the building’s history.

Büyüktaşçıyan’s minimal display also features blue filters applied on the windows—a straightforward allusion to the idea of submersion—and a triptych hung from the ceiling as if it were floating. Each panel comprises a grid of black-and-white Xeroxed photographs dating from the 1930s of the city’s Byzantine-era water sources (cisterns, fountains and wells). The artist intervenes with a blue marker, depicting water in the images that overflows from the structures, sometimes submerging them. This work goes beyond a narrowly institutional site-specific gesture, engaging in a personal investigation of the city’s past.

The image of the balcony reappears in a variety of delicate forms. Abstracted balconies (mostly one- or two-legged sculptures) sit on ceramic wheels, suggesting the sense of looking and wandering. In a series of small-scale pencil drawings, the balconies twist through or flee the confines of the space. But the wooden shelves on which they sit—small replicas of balconies—regrettably risk repetition.

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