Nilbar Güreş
    •  Nilbar Güreş

      A Female World

      By Nancy Atakan


      Rampa Gallery opened in 2010 in Beşıktaş on a recently gentrified street. This gallery’s prestigious position has influenced others to relocate or open second branches nearby.  One of the gallery’s two adjacent spaces has a street front window where from April 9 to April 21, Nilbar Güreş showed her video piece, “Undressing” (2006), in which a woman whose head and face is completely covered with numerous colorful lace trimmed rural traditional scarves, fumbles and slowly removes each layer of fabric until she happily raises the last scarf, smiles, and shakes her hair free with a great sigh of relief. On this street that separates upscale from lower middle class areas, all types of pedestrians stop to watch, sigh with relief, smile, smirk or react unpredictably, as they witness the self-unveiling of a Moslem woman. These scarves that have been given written and spoken names of the artist’s friends or relatives personify real people. Some of the female spectators seem to be listening, watching, and perhaps waiting for their own names to appear.  When Nilbar showed this work in Europe, she hoped to remind spectators there that every veiled woman has an individual identity.


      With her tragically whimsical and often humorous depictions of a world completely inhabited by women, Nilbar challenges traditional patriarchal stereotypes.  Previously included in the 2010 Berlin Biennial, the autobiographical pseudo-documentary character of the photographs comprising the “Çırçır” (2010) series shown in the larger space at Rampa makes a bizarre staged world appear believable.   In fact, Nilbar skillfully blurs the boundary between make believe and reality to a degree that the spectator cannot be sure which came first, the collage/drawings of scenes also shown in photographs or the photographs themselves. Çırçır is a real place, a housing development on the outskirts of Istanbul, an area recently appropriated by the city to build a large tunnel, a place where Nilbar’s relatives lived, a place she visited frequently in her youth, a place that she revisited as a professional photographer/artist just before it was destroyed.  All of the fabric used in her collages belonged to family or acquaintances, all the props in the photographs were from the apartment, and the women in the photographs were family members and friends, but Nilbar re-arranges and poses scenes to tell her own story.


      Nilbar Güreş lives and works in Vienna and Istanbul


      For Flash Art

      May 2011