Ebru Özseçen: True Love Soul Mate / RAMPA İstanbul, Turkey
March 02 — April 07, 2012
Ebru Özseçen combines her experience in the fields of architecture, design and contemporary art to explore different aspects of psychological and sociological relationship between space and body. Her work presents great diversity; ranging from urban intervention to sculpture and objects, from photography to video, from film installations to drawings. The artist is concerned with the dualities of inside/ outside and public/private; and explores individual memory in contemporary society. Ebru Özseçen investigates the seemingly mundane to expose its magical and unseen aspects. She reveals a space where fantasy and memory hide in plain sight.
It is impossible to disregard the gender aspect in Özseçen’s work, in which she indiscriminately plays with the androgynous form – the phallus, vulva, uterus or scrotum. At times pushing the boundaries of pornographic obscenity, the artist always places erotic intensity in the foreground. On the other hand, in many of her works it is possible to see Özseçen driven by her deep-seated admiration for the tradition of artisanship. The artist is drawn to the sensual quality of the form and the beauty of a well-accomplished object. This approach invites us to interpret the artist’s practice from a new perspective. Özseçen’s sharp gaze on the form, and her romantic obsession with the beautiful, the pure, and the unsoiled confront us as sharp yet sensitive, violent yet graceful works that have been refined in the hands of a craftsman.
Özseçen’s new work, Gerçek Aşk Gönül Eşi / True Love Soul Mate (2011), which will constitute the backbone of the exhibition at Rampa, is comprised of over 100 separate glass pieces. This work is realized in collaboration with Mayer of Munich and Glasshütte Lamberts, which are among the most prominent handmade glass studios of the world that has for the first time opened its doors to contemporary arts for this work. Each piece is produced in different sizes and forms with hours of effort in 1450-degree ovens. Recalling many of Özseçen’s work, heat once more emerges as a dominating component in this work, both as a physical force and as an allegory. For this work, the artist divulges that “the concept of true love and soul mate employed in the title should be sought not in the realm of romantic love, but rather in companionship, camaraderie as signified in the craftsman’s delicate touch on the objects he has amorously devoted himself to.” Installing two of her works of the same form together, one from the beginning and the other from the most recent phase of her career, Özseçen incites the audience to trace a playful phantom form.
The first of Özseçen’s works to be exhibited at Rampa, Toplar / Balls (1997) is one of the earliest works of the artist. Toplar / Balls portrays shining ball and pendants on a chandelier, which the artist photographed in an antique store in London. Özseçen returned to these forms in this photograph over and over again throughout the years. She used the same form in Şeker Avize / Sugar Chandelier exhibited in the 1999 İstanbul Biennial; in the tears falling from façade of the Elhamra Passage on İstiklal Street in Beyoğlu in 2001; and in her 2009 sculpture Kısmet among others. For her exhibition at Rampa Toplar / Balls is revealed again, to greet us as a three-dimensional photograph/relief/sculpture in the hands of the famous glass master Mayer of Munich. The work, which has been reprinted as relief over glass and ornately designed with mirrors, opens a new space where Özseçen questions the relationship between space and body through her inner experiences. As the spectators are able to see their own reflection on the very work itself, Özseçen invites them to redefine themselves within the space in the photograph.
Another work of Özseçen featured in the exhibition is titled Kısmet (2010-2000). In this work, the artist draws from an ivory sphere with a pouch of beans marked with letters inside that she accidentally encounters in an antique store in Amsterdam. The story of this mysterious object, which she learns to be a love toy of a French Countess, is as intriguing as the object itself. Selecting a random bean from the ivory sphere, the Countess would decide which lover she would spend the night with; in a certain respect her fate -kısmet in Turkish. In Özseçen’s hands, ‘Kısmet’ transforms into its contemporary sculpture counterpart of this game of chance. Placed over a pedestal that revolves around its own axis; the body of the conic sculpture made of bull’s testicle under an ebony sphere that is protected as if by a porcelain armor. Choosing to work with a loaded tradition such as the Nymphenburg porcelain, which directly constitutes the basis for handicrafts in Bavaria, in Kısmet the artist has employed the late–Romantic tradition, of which Munich is also an important center. This romanticism is much more lustful than its Northern counterpart and with its seductive and passionate emotionality it has come to voice in perhaps all of the artist’s work over the last decade.
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Above: Ebru Özseçen, Kısmet, 2010, Ebony and bull testicle, porcelain, pedestal, 109.8 x 63.5 x 55 cm (pedestal), 51 x 22 x 22 cm (porcelain).