Mirror Mirror on the Wall
25 April – 22 June 2013
Pi Artworks Istanbul, Turkey
This new work by Nancy Atakan investigates the extreme routes taken by contemporary individuals and societies to become attractive to others whether it be the opposite sex or foreign investors. Women and men undergo surgery to alter their physical appearance. Politicians promote urban transformation to attract global investment. Plastic surgeons add to and take away from human bodies like sculptors molding clay. Urban developers thoughtlessly demolish communities and ways of life for profit. Societies that place high value on beauty and youth continuously change, disguise and eliminate the ‘Old’ built structure or human body. Violence of this type can be physical or psychological. Atakan uses a variety of techniques including silkscreen, photography, digital prints and digital video to transform discarded objects found in the local flea market.
What is beauty? What makes an art object beautiful? What makes a person beautiful? Is it proportion, fitting the norm, being stylish, adhering to aesthetic canons? Whatever the answer, this is a question that plagues us throughout life both as artists and as humans. Mythological stories and fairytales transmit messages about the importance of beauty to children. Being particularly true for maturing females, concepts of narcissism and vanity lose their negative connotations, as media, peer pressure, and the market economy continue to promote the physically beautiful icon not only as a want, but also as a need. Contemporary individuals are willing to spend excessive amounts for cosmetics and undergo serious surgical procedures hoping to fit into the norm, hoping to remove the traces of lived life, hoping to forget the inevitability of death. For some of the work in this show, the artist transformed discarded plastic surgeon’s slides found in an Istanbul flea market into Warhol inspired silkscreen images printed in tones of black and gray on a series of reflective hand cut small oval mirrors. While retaining the potential of reproducibility, the individually printed images displayed in hand made white frames appear standardized but are not. An almost beautiful, seemingly innocent series of mirrors depict one dimension of a contemporary tragedy. To remind spectators of their position in this drama, the artist allows their reflections to mingle with the silkscreen images on the mirrors.