Remembering the Future

London Collective on Vortic Collect
30 July – 26 September 2020

Using lace, cloth cut outs, thread drawings, photographs, and antique textiles from her personal collection, in a new series of needlework pieces Atakan continues with and expands upon the topics of the relationship between word and image, storytelling, female experiences, globalization and gentrification.

Atakan used her small home studio to produce this body of work during the three and a half month 2020 Covid-19 lockdown. As she read, wrote, sewed, imagined and looked out onto the flowers on her terrace and the trees in Macka Park in Istanbul, she became convinced that the key to the survival of future generations rested with learning from the vegetal world.

In her film, Oleander, her use of a previously favoured technique, personification, gradually becomes obvious as her voice narrates a part fact – part fictional story.In her needlework panels, she continues to investigate the relationship between word and image as she embroiders images alone in some works, while including sentences she has written in others. On an antique cloth, she stitched a text entitled Remembering the Future (2020) which describes her feelings, fears, hopes, and reflections during the lockdown.

As a background for Hand in Hand (2020), the artist has used an intricately sown antique fabric with a design passed down from generation to generation. On this background, she has made two overlapping cloth collages that tell a visual story about her belief that the female must lead the next generation forward by giving a guiding hand and by sharing her strength, energy, and experience.

Many of her previous works have dealt with belonging and with observations of gentrification and globalization in her neighborhood. In the needlework Rootedness (2020), she also brings into play her desire to show overlapping historical methods of depiction, the bird’s eye view of miniature paintings with western perspective by combining a sown drawing showing a tree with strong roots standing amidst destruction and the Google Maps aerial view of the shape of her neighborhood’s periphery.

In her art practice, Atakan has always encouraged collaboration and sharing, but here her collaboration is with plants rather than people. In this series that is permeated with hope, she also took inspiration from philosophers Luce Irigaray and Michael Marder’s 2016 book,Through Vegetal Being: Two Philosophical Perspectives, in their book they say;

“It is….the issue of acknowledging the unplayable debt we owe to plants, of partaking of the generosity in which plants excel, and of drawing inspiration from this generosity with every breath we take…Our task is to develop a culture through which we come to view the plants, ourselves, and the air between us as the participants in the ensemble of life…The cultivation of sharing instead of division, is perhaps the sole practical and theoretical trend that can still make a positive difference in the disastrous environmental situation we find ourselves in.” (ed. Columbia University Press, 2016, p.133)

2 channel video 6 ‘31

During the Spring 2020 Covid-19 lockdown, Atakan spent time in her small office/studio looking out at and relating to the plants on her terrace. For the artist, their importance increased daily. As she took care of them, watered them, and spoke to them, they became her friends. In this film, Oleander, she continues to use one of her favored techniques, personification, that only becomes obvious halfway through. In the narrative, she uses her own voice and the story is at least partially autobiographical, but as is typical for her narratives, it is hard to distinguish fact from fiction.

All images on this site and their copyrights owned by Nancy Atakan unless otherwise stated. Images are not to be reprinted or reused without the expressed permission.