Singapore Biennale 2019
National Gallery, Singapore
22 Nov 2019 - 22 Mar 2020
Hera Büyüktaşcıyan’s research-based practice revolves around the fluidity of history and the relation between our present lives and our unseen roots; these interests find differentiated expressions in two works presented at SB2019.
In 2018, during her residency at Bellas Artes Projects in Bataan in the Philippines, Büyüktaşcıyan started to look closer into the traditional local architecture. Seldom Seen, Soon Forgotten is a site-specific installation inspired by the capiz-shelled windows introduced in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial period which allow light to enter while still remaining resistant against typhoons. It also evokes the pattern of the binakol textile, which uses an optical illusion that resembles whirlwinds to drive away bad spirits. The association of the two textures that have different uses but are intended to offer protection and apparent control over outside forces opens the interpretation towards the invisible aspects of our history and requires choosing a position – outside or inside. For Büyüktaşcıyan, “the abstraction of the capiz shells questions the ability to see or to remain virtually blind towards social and political aspects of everyday life and the cyclic repetition of history. The illusion created by the whirlwinds of history causes a sense of blindness where the image disappears until it is forgotten.”
Büyüktaşcıyan’s other work at SB2019, A Study on Endless Archipelagos, is a collection of anthropomorphised architectural elements that the artist collected over an extended period of time in the cities she previously lived and worked in. They represent particles of restored memory as much as they are recovered pieces of forgotten or unwanted walls that resemble little islands with fringed edges. The miniature feet, made out of bronze, supporting each fragment renders the feeling of a burdened history moving in slow motion and floating on a sea of timeless and often disjuncted memories. Pieces of brick, concrete or ceramic dating from various moments in time or coming from different places as a result of decay or demolition, are ‘art-ified’ and given a second life as part of a transformative journey where the objectual meets time and time meets memory. This irreversible passage is traumatic and leads to a cumulative fragmentation which may result in history or in forgetfulness.