That is Water, That is Earth
18 September 2018 -
Marfa’ presents That Is Water, That Is Earth, a group exhibition of works by Caline Aoun, Hera Büyüktaşçıyan, Dala Nasser, Zoë Paul, curated with Mari Spirito. Artworks in That Is Water, That Is Earth are linked by navigation of the conditions of our times, giving materiality to the immaterial aspects in our societies.
Accompanying factors such as rapidly shifting societal and economic structures, as well as psychological and emotional aspects of this transition into the Digital Age, give way to these four responsive voices. Fluidity, in this case, a metaphor for ideas, information and historical time, is constant yet never the same, uncertain and layered. Hera Büyüktaşçıyan’s installation, The Wanderer’s Storm-Song, 2018, takes its title from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s poem of the same name and spreads several stacks of domestic white pillowcases across the gallery floor. Each stack lifts up off the floor, revealing small brass feet. In this form, the pillowcases become waves, which are inspired by vibrations of memory and reflect movement of people throughout various times in history. Each object, made of a material formerly used to rest your head, to dream, has been transformed into the curl or break of a wave. The white foam of crashing wave signals the moment when the energy of the wave comes in contact with land and becomes another kind of energy. Looking at Büyüktaşçıyan’s work through the lens of geological time, we ask: What has happened here before us? What will happen after us? Sensitivity to urban transformation and disappearance of populations bring to the surface invisible cycles as well as our shifting attitudes towards them.
Caline Aoun’s work is a focused series of experimental correctives, inversions, and resting places in a historical moment of peaking visual noise. This is done not out of an ideology of urban environmentalism, but by posing the question of what happens when this noise becomes total? Image saturation and the exhaustion that follows, the uncountable ways in which representation has failed us, these forces converge to form new baselines of experience, newly informed silences, dark and blank spaces for us to reflect upon. Dispersions, 2017-ongoing, is a series of unique inkjet prints on folded and crumbled paper. Like most of her unique inkjet prints, they are overridden by their material qualities and surfaces. Here, the ink droplets have landed onto the paper during the printing process in such a way as to create light and shadow effects as a consequence of the papers’ folds. In Aoun’s work, water is also a recurrent motif, where the washing of, or wearing away of the image is presented as a sort of cleansing, or return. In Fountain 2, 2018, water has been replaced by a printer’s Cyan ink. Water isn’t blue but appears blue and is widely represented as so. The ink in the fountain has no destination, it’s traffic and movement does not end onto a paper as to represent some data or information from a computer, but rather is renewed and circulated in an endless loop inside the fountain.
Two untitled works from 2017, by Zoë Paul, are weavings representing a woman and a man. Paul’s weavings are made on discarded refrigerator grills and recall her early life experiences. Prior to the arrival of the fridge, people from different families ate livestock together, sharing food that could not be kept fresh/safe for a long period of time. After the arrival of the fridge, families ate in each of their homes, separated from each other, which was seen as the advancement of modernization, and is now considered as a factor in the breaking down of communities, in the isolation of people from each other, eating food, each from their storage. Similarly, Air Conditioning Is Destiny, 2016, is a prototype for a primitive air-conditioning unit, where the grills that are filled with pumice stones are resting on an engraved marble basin.These stones are the same used to make Aegean island homes, which, by way of the material itself, stay cool in the summer time, and warm in the winter. Paul is skeptical of the so-called advancements of the current conditions of our times. Her reflections suggest that constructive progress would happen if we returned to pre-modern living. The making of Paul’s work frequently involves groups of people, working with natural materials by hand, who at times are temporary communities. Paul’s communal process is as much part of her works as her objects.
Dala Nasser’s most recent works, I’m Not Going to Talk About Refugees For the Sake of Your Collection and Is This What You Want?, both produced in 2018, examine the agency of the artist’s own voice, while asserting that said work is not speaking for, or on behalf of, shared subjectivities. I’m Not Going to Talk About Refugees For the Sake of Your Collection is made from gold emergency blankets, charcoal, and discarded fabric, while Is This What You Want? is composed of survival bags, ash, salt, and industrial plastic sheeting, contrasting with the artist’s other, more diaphanous pieces. Both works hang on rigs out from the wall and are back-lit to heighten their autonomous evolution as a result of material reactions and time. Nasser’s sculptural forms embody her own personal relationship to hegemonic narratives around identity formation. How can an artist reclaim materials that have external symbolic meaning by way of re-contextualizing them within a more personal framework? Through the materiality at the center of her work, Nasser continuously pushes back against gender and ethnicity-based misconceptions by exploring the complexity of one’s ascribed identities, her work expands on a dialogue for change in societies at home and abroad.
Caline Aoun (b.1983, Beirut) lives and works between Beirut and London. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins, London, in 2005. In 2009, she received a Postgraduate degree in Fine Art from the Royal Academy School, London. She also earned a Professional Doctorate in Fine Art at the University of East London, London in 2012. Her work has been recently exhibited at the MAXXI, Rome, Centre For Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland, Mosaic Rooms, London, UK, Casa Árabe, Madrid, Spain, Casa Árabe, Cordoba, Spain, Art Basel, Basel, Switzerland. Aoun is Deutsche Bank’s Artist of the Year 2018. In autumn 2018, she will present her first large-scale institutional solo exhibition at the MAXXI, Rome.
Hera Büyüktaşçıyan (b. 1984, Istanbul) graduated from Marmara University, Faculty of Fine Arts, Painting department in 2006. Past residencies include Delfina Foundation, London; Villa Waldberta, Munich; AIRDrop, Stockholm; PiST/// Interdisciplinary Project Space, Istanbul; and ACSL, Yerevan. Selected exhibitions include: solo exhibition at Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa) Gallery, Berlin(forthcoming); Underneath The Arches, Naples, 2018; Write Injuries on Sand and Kindness in Marble, Green Art Gallery, Dubai, 2017; Armenity, Armenian Pavillion, 56th Venice Biennale, Venice, 2017; Saltwater, Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, 2015.
Dala Nasser (b.1990, Beirut) lives and works in Beirut after having completed her BFA in London at UCL’s Slade School of Fine Arts in 2016. She was awarded the Boise Travel Scholarship and the Sursock Museum’s 32nd Salon D’Automne Emerging Artist Prize. Selected exhibitions include Surface Work at Victoria Miro, London, 2018; The Pain of Others, Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles, 2018; An Unpredictable Expression of Human Potential, ACT II of the Sharjah Biennial 13, Beirut Art Center, 2017; Ghosting of Beings and Worlds, Greynoise Gallery, Dubai, 2017; 32nd Salon D’Automne, Sursock Museum, Beirut, 2016.
Zoë Paul (b.1987, London) lives and works in Athens. After finishing her undergraduate at Camberwell College of art, she completed her MA in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art, London. Selected exhibitions include: La Perma-Perla Kraal Emporium, SPIKE Island, Bristol, 2018; La Perma-Perla Kraal Emporium, The Breeder, Athens, 2017; Equilibrists organized by the New Museum, New York and the DESTE Foundation, Athens at the Benaki Museum, Athens, 2016; Solitude and Village, The Breeder, Athens, 2016; Unorthodox at the Jewish Museum, New York, 2015.