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Quotidien de l'Art

Hera Büyüktaşcıyan, Portrait of an Orchard in the Wind, 2024
Frottage with graphite on silk and Industrial drawings on graph paper with pencil and gouache (Gifted by Tours Cite de la Soie)


The conversation between art and archaeology is about things that remain in the present, and what they can tell us about the authorship of history, the politics of time and the meaning of cultural destruction. It is around the time of Dion’s installation at SALT that a Greek-Armenian artist from Istanbul, Hera Büyüktaşçıyan, began thinking about archaeology and cultural destruction, in the context of the history of minorities in Turkey, tackling long-term historical structures, around sites such as the the city’s Roman-era aqueducts, the Princes Islands, or recently unearthed monasteries, following the material traces of long journeys of violence, displacement and erasure in Turkey. As Dion exemplified in his dig projects, what Büyüktaşçıyan was searching were not solely images from the past, but archaeological methods and concepts that could provide novel approaches to visualize the unstable and fragmentary nature of the political present through artifacts, landscapes and stories.

After a decade exploring different sites in the region, from demolished bath houses, to abandoned schools and ancient waters, the artist refined a poignant method of memory art, through sculptural installations, which now enabled her to look at other postcolonial geographies. Büyüktaşçıyan has since then worked in Karachi, Toronto, Singapore, Cornwall and more recently, the Vassivière Lake in France. In a co-production between the Centre International d’Art et du Paysage in Vassivière and the Centre de Création Contemporaine Olivier Debré, the artist explores in the recent exhibitions, “Resonant Grounds” and “Defending Ancient Waters”, dynamics of regeneration in relation to forestry plantations and hydroelectric dams in the region of Vassivière. Here she returns to one of the most fundamental operations in her work – aquatic memory. The power of water is not only a force that shapes objects, but also the medium of memory itself, containing different pasts flowing together, at all times, in indeterminate directions.

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