A Community of Lines
11 September – 21 October 2017
Pi Artworks Karaköy, Istanbul, Turkey
Bringing together Nancy Atakan’s latest embroidered works on linen and felt, A Community of Lines interweaves the most subjective and localized accounts of female lineage and transmission with broader historical narratives around the role attributed to women in the development of Turkish modernity. Unfocusing from closed frames and grand narratives, the artist emphasizes threads of life stories and lines of intergenerational transmission, revealing unwritten histories as anti-totalizing forces that entangle and unravel through several knots.
In line with Atakan’s previous work and research and by combining the Western tradition of samplers with elements from Turkish needlework, the exhibition ties autobiographical elements to wider historical shifts affecting the education of women in both Western and Turkish contexts of modernization. How do we draw the lines between our life stories, stitching together what we’ve inherited from the past and what we transmit to the future?
The exhibition takes as its point of departure an invitation by Nancy Atakan to women in her family and circle of friends to collaborate by sharing memories and family photographs. The resulting needlework objects presented in the form of wrapped gifts in the exhibition attest to an ongoing process of exchange and collaboration, a community of lines beyond the exhibition’s time and space.
The American born Istanbul based artist, teacher, art historian and art critic, Nancy Atakan, has been an active figure in the Istanbul arts scene since 1969. Originally a painter, in the early 1990’s she switched to a multimedia approach encompassing photography, installation, text, digital printing, neon and video.
Believing that the art arena is a place where individuals can experiment to develop alternative ways to live and interact with each other, in 2007 she co-founded with artist Volkan Aslan, a non-profit artist initiative and project space called 5533. Sustaining this idealistic viewpoint, her practice involves experimentation, research, collaboration, and dialogue. In her work, she often incorporates autobiographical materials, references to the history and culture of Istanbul as well as gender politics, globalization, language and femininity related concepts. She has been a Pi Artworks artist since 2009.
For 35 years Atakan kept an exercise VHS tape made by her first Turkish gymnastic therapist, Azade. She selected four movements from Azade’s original video to replicate together with other women and young girls as a metaphor for the female search for role models
Asli Seven shared with the artist the story of her grandmother who studied art and taught in one of the first teachers art schools in Edirne in 1940. The artist made embroidered pictures from photographs and wrote texts to accompany them.