Scent of Time

10 December 2022 – 31 January 2023
Pi Artworks Istanbul, Turkey

Atakan’s visual language draws on the repercussions of historical, cultural and societal transformations which are fostered in the mind and legible on the body, creating a juxtaposition of images belonging to a past and in the making of a future. The act of remembering is definitive of her works and carried out through her poems either embroidered on cloth or heard over video works.

Scent of Time revolves around the construction of time in individual consciousness, an amalgam of our perception, memory and imagination defying the irrevocable passage of time by the arbitrary numbers on a clock while forming a unity of all experiences for the self. This unique construction, born out of insight, is explored throughout the exhibition mimicking a cyclical structure of time, “thoughts on thoughts” overlapping and lingering just like scent does.

For this exhibition, watercolour paintings made several decades earlier – fragmented images of a personal history – are brought together on the background cloth of needlework, some of the materials of which were presented as a gift or collected throughout the years. Such as the one, “Window of Time”, a cloth collage composed of gifted Turkish embroidery on a fabric bought in an Indian market was inspired by a watercolour made by Atakan in 1983 that she named “Window”.

Forming the backbone of the exhibition, “Searching for the Scent of Time” made in 2022 is a revisit to the time when Nancy was collecting antique table clocks from flea markets while being followed through the lens of filmmaker Dilek Aydın, for a documentary in the making about the artist. Throughout the show, those clocks appear in different mediums – on handkerchiefs, in a video, as a part of a sculpture – as symbolic and material objects, each opening an illusory window in time to the intangible place of memories.

Atakan has incorporated plants into her artistic vocabulary in recent years as a delicate symbol of the cycle of nature in which our bodies and consciousness are a part of its workings and appearances and as a metaphor for our own delicate memory. In the search for the threads of the distinguishable but inseparable moments of life, she often makes use of collages in an attempt to disclose time, disguised in many roles, ever-mutating the meanings attached to personal experiences and leaving the one in the act of remembering to incessantly shift their perception and judgement. All in all, it isn’t an attempt to find a direction toward the source but to stand on the pieces surfacing above. To quote Marcel Proust: “Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.”

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