Hera Büyüktaşçıyan is based in Istanbul and creates installation, sound, performance, sculpture and video. She activates three-dimensional forms such as sculpture and installation with sensorial components including performance, sound and video to breath life to the work itself. Exploring themes of displacement, identity and reconciliation, she creates new narratives around the notion of otherness by using metaphors such as water, a recurring symbol in her work, as the ultimate source and instrument that nurtures our memory.
Büyüktaşçıyan completed her BFA in Painting from Marmara University. She has exhibited extensively throughout Istanbul including at the Pera Museum and participated in the 2015 Istanbul Biennale. In addition, she has shown internationally at the 2018 Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh; 2016 EVA International Biennial, Limerick, Ireland; and was the youngest participant in the group exhibition representing the Armenian Pavilion in the 56th Venice Biennale, which was awarded the Gold Lion Prize. Past residencies include Delfina Foundation, London; Villa Waldberta, Munich; AIRDrop, Stockholm; PiSt/// Interdisciplinary Project Space, Istanbul and ACSL, Yerevan.
BAP Artist Talk: Hera Büyüktaşçıyan
September 22, 2018 (Saturday), to conclude her residency, Hera Büyüktaşçıyan gave an artist talk at BAP Outpost.
Visible and Invisible.
Water is a repeating motif in her work. She relates the attributes of its fluidity in relation to space and memory. According to Hera, the materials that she works with may vary in terms of projects but she applies the same methodology. To catalyze her inspiration to create, in addition researching about the history and culture of the space, before installing an artwork, the first thing she does with a new concept is to have an on-site visit where she asks the question “what was this place before?”.
She discusses In Situ (2013), a previous work installed in a former turkish bath. Where she researched and interviewed twenty locals regarding the building’s history. The result was a room filled with bath soaps arranged in a curved shape - in reference with recurrence of water in her work. The streets started to smell like when the turkish bath operated. This gave a nostalgic recollection among the locals and Hera pointed out that human senses affects our recreation of memories.
Another key element in her work is the use of architectural details. For Hera, this intrigues her in different directions. She applied this idea with her exhibit called The Land Across The Blind (2014). In the exhibition, she explained that the first work is a balcony based on a story of a young Greek girl that fled out of her country due to political conflict. The rope and tinted blue windows represent the idea of a sunken memory.
Other works that contained themes of the visible and invisible includes an exhibition at Greet Art Gallery, Write Injuries on Sand and Kindness (2016) which delves into unspoken history. This idea pushed Hera to dedicate the entire show to laborers.
In a similar vein, The Relic (2016) was inspired by the workers of Taj Mahal wherein they lost their fingerprints due to an immense sanding of the marble. They became the victim and represented the invisibility of labor. The sculpture had an imprints of mosaic which represent that we carry spaces within us.
During her three-week residency in Bataan, Büyüktaşçıyan drew inspiration from the architecture of the heritages houses at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, specifically the capiz windows. She has also been visually and mentally taking note of certain aspects of the Filipino consciousness--its forms and identities, that more or less reflect the idea of things that are hidden inside and things that you cannot see further--which relates with the identity and physical role of the capiz windows.
She mentioned that her experience during her stay in one of the Las Casas’ rooms with capiz shell windows made her both feel this sense of safety and uncanniness at the same. “I could hear the waves of the sea (that could swallow you) and the oncoming threatening storm, but I couldn’t see them too. If there was a thief you would be able to see his shadow and hear him but not completely see him,” she continues, “the capiz windows acted as a filter of the mind.” This filter of the mind coincided with her observation that Filipinos don’t often talk about history and its negative connotations because they have this capiz filter in their minds.
Büyüktaşçıyan experimented with capiz shells which resulted in three types of kinetic sculptures. The first one was made from capiz window ruins from an old house. She was fascinated with how the collapsing pieces formed an abstract grid form. She juxtaposes triangular and square windows with a moving mechanism to be able to combine them to result in a moving object where you can see and cannot see what is behind, so it gives you the idea of the effort to see what is behind everything.
And the last piece is like a continuation of the second series and also plays with sound and shadow. It can both see through and imprint something that does not exist. Hera mentions that, “light is something that makes things visible and darkness makes them invisible, [but at the same time] visible too with the shadows.” With this last work, the physicality of the capiz becomes visible when the light passes through which creates shadows that reveals a grid form.
Hera’s works relate with water, the sea, and the waves. But these waves can be waves of time--especially these big volume of wave of events both tragic and positive. And the urge to make the kinetic sculptures is to relate them with nature and how she feels with the nature and how a moment makes you situate yourself in the space.
The second sculpture (still made from scrap capiz windows) reflects the different forms of usage of bamboo sticks seen around Bagac villages and how something concrete (like house and bamboo) can be easily turned into a new form when disturbed. This sculpture touches on the idea of hallucination and its correlation with the wind and whirlpool.
Hera Büyüktaşçıyan is indeed a researcher, storyteller, and an artist. She declines to make art without a strong context behind it. The Istanbul-based artist utilizes facts to produce works. Hera became the voice of the invisible - unspoken ideas some would not speak about.
We would like to extend our gratitude towards Hera Büyüktaşçıyan’s for bringing these new perspectives to light.
To watch the event, check out BAP Video Portfolio here.