Not to forget. Over 1000 women have been officially killed in gender-based violence. This is the case for all women in Turkey- women who cover their hair or women who don’t, young or old women, single women, queer or trans women. Not to forget. This is the mission of the art created by Ardan Ozmenoglu, an artist interested in social sensibilities and collective memories. For Europe Wonderland exhibition, which can be seen until 13 november, she created portraits of 26 women who have been murdered. It is a collective project where different artists are questioning Europe through their art. We talked with Ciprian Homorodean about the limits of Europe, with Delia Popa about fail and with the curators about the mission of this exhibition. Now, we talk with Ardan about cruelty and womens right to live.
Throughout the working time and creating process, I really connected with the women who have been killed in gender based violence since 2010. I looked at them deeply
Ardan was born in 1979 and is a versatile Turkish contemporary artist who works in a wide range of mediums including large-scale glass sculptures, works on Post-It notes and neon lighting. She creates pieces of art that unite opposing ideas: the past and the present, repetition and individuality, the whole and the fragmented.
Not to forget
I created an installation for the exhibition. My technique involves adhering an array of post-it notes to my canvases as a base, topped by painting and silk screened vibrant imagery. The result is a three-dimensional surface, adding a sense of depth and dimension to my work. I used post-it notes for creating paintings because of giving the idea of ‘not to forget’. For the exhibition, the solid color of my work is light yellow (which is the main color of the post-it notes) and cold colors gathered with black dots. The work will be installed on the wall and will cover it.
My starting point was questioning the exhibition name; ‘European wonderland’. For me, when you say something like that, I understand it as European Union: freedom, secularity, equality and women rights. By this project, I want to express what is happening to women in Turkey as a non-member of the EU.
To respect their lives
Over the past years, reports of violence against Turkish women have risen. Over 1000 women have been officially killed in gender-based violence.In 2020 July alone, 40 women have been murdered - almost always by their close male relatives. This is the case for all women in Turkey-women who cover their hair or women who don’t, young or old women, single women, queer or trans women. For the ‘Europe Wonderland’ exhibition, I created portraits of 26 women who have been murdered. I don’t want to share their names to respect their lives. I found and used their photos from Turkish newspapers, online news, social media and tv. I didn’t choose the topic, as a woman artist in Turkey, I think the topic chose me.
The idea of creating the work came to my mind three months ago, and during this time I have been thinking about it. But only for the technical process, I spent 3 weeks, day and night, in my printmaking studio to create the artwork. Throughout the working time and creating process, I really connected with the women who have been killed in gender based violence since 2010. I looked at them deeply. I was already so sad about the subject ,but working on these portraits and looking at them everyday made me more sad. While I was silk screen printing I was crying.
The artists’ role in society
I could only say one word; ‘awareness’ for now.
What do you hope people will learn from this exhibition
The theme of the exhibition is ‘Europe Wonderland’. If you want to know more about one subject, you should get away from your position and think differently. In this exhibition, as a non eu member woman artist I am trying to explain what it means to be an outsider. I don’t think people learn after they visit an exhibition I think they could only feel.
What was hard, what was good and easy for you during the pandemic
Quarantine was hard, being lonely was good, washing hands was easy.
Actually, isolation did not work well on me. It didn’t inspire me at all. I was worried all the time. I always think a lot, and this period of time made it multiple.
How were your projects affected by this period
I could give you a simple example: I was supposed to be in Timișoara now, installing my work, being at the opening of the ‘European Wonderland’ exhibition and interviewing with you in person. None of it happened as planned. I am in Istanbul now, I sent my artwork, explained it with words in emails, could not meet anyone from there, looked at the city from google maps. It is a sad situation and this is how the pandemic period affected my life and my projects. I don’t want to guess anything about the new normality, I wish I could know anything.
I think art’s role is more present, more powerful than ever. Yes, what we are experiencing is hard, but this also puts value on our art projects. Maybe finally people understand the importance of art and artists.
A future scenario
My future scenario is people will be paranoid, afraid of touching, hugging, talking, meeting, kissing, working, traveling etc. Pandemic took our freedom of life and I don’t think it will give us back soon. Maybe it is nature's revenge. I think I will never be able to adapt to new normality.