It still is as it always was
Nancy Atakan & Kalliopi Lemos
20 February – 15 July 2020
Pi Artworks London, UK
In ‘Necklace of Time’, Lemos and Atakan enter an eternal, poetic world where they engage in a ritual-like performance. Wearing heavy golden necklaces adorned with colorful jewels referencing Ottoman designs and reminiscent of Byzantine armour, the artists engage in the task of removing the jewels and replacing them with small embroidered words chosen to reflect their lived experiences – birth, love, friendship and marriage.
The genesis of this collaboration came through a shared interest in female and familial stories in which women are often the ‘keepers’ of cherished memories and stories passed down through the generations. Shared memories are a precious inheritance assuming acute importance during the transition from one significant life stage to another; from youth to maturity.
At each stage we both attain and lose something important and in ‘Necklace of Time’, this is given tangible form in the ritual act of adornment and substitution embodied by the elaborate necklaces worn by Lemos and Atakan. As mature women, the artists realize they no longer need the materialistic adornment they might have desired in youth. Now only memories of experiences and relationships remain valuable and these rich experiences gain further currency through the act of being shared; the ‘jewels’ handed on to their daughters and granddaughters, just as they were once imparted to them.
‘The diamonds, the rubies and the gold of all the precious moments that I lived, oh my little one, they should grace you now. You are the one to carry them forward because you are the future!’
From ‘Necklace of Time’ by Nancy Atakan and Kalliopi Lemos.
These inevitable stages mimic the natural seasons, or the transition of day to night noted by T.S. Eliot in The Waste Land; the ‘shadow at morning striding behind you’, transforms to the ‘shadow at evening rising to meet you’. Contemporary western culture has placed an excessive value on youthful femininity but in appreciating the experiences and opportunities of young and old women alike, we begin to address a universal need for equality rooted in feminism.
Lemos and Atakan enter an eternal, poetic world where they engage in a ritual-like performance. Wearing heavy golden necklaces adorned with colorful jewels referencing Ottoman designs and reminiscent of Byzantine armour, the artists engage in the task of removing the jewels and replacing them with small embroidered words chosen to reflect their lived experiences – birth, love, friendship and marriage.
Letter of Hope
Robe worn in film, “Necklace of Time” Embroidery on green cloth
Inside the coat worn by the artist for the film, “Necklace of Time”, the artist has written a wish for her children, grandchildren, former students, and young artists with whom she works
Woman As Language
Gold plated stainless steel breastplates 30 x 40 cm
Women, as the “keepers” of cherished stories, experiences, and memories have had a voice and have used language to pass these down as a precious legacy from generation to generation. Worn in the collaborative film, “Necklace of Time” the jewels of youth are exchanged for shared memories. Symbolically, the concept of beauty attains a subjective and spiritual rather than stereotyped meaning.
Challenging Cliché 1 (Diamonds) 2020
cloth, needlework, fake jewels lace 92 x 202 cm
Challenging Cliché 2 (Family Memories) 2020
cloth, needlework, lace
102 x 143 cm
Always interested in the relationship between image and word, in these works using photographs from family albums and popular sayings, Nancy Atakan analyzes cliché, trite and stereotyped expressions, sentences, phrases often used to promote an idea about gender relationships that have lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse. To make one ironic negative yet meaningful comment on gender identity, in “Challenging Cliché1”, the artist combines two well-known phrases frequently used in advertisements, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend “ and “Diamonds are forever”.