Territoires 

This exhibition of works by Aslı Bolayır reflects, refracts and transforms the questions of identity and movement or restriction across geographical borders into an inner struggle of the artist to locate a sense of place and belonging: it is an uncontrollable disturbance between being stationary and  travelling, between being somewhere and nowhere, between the politics of nations and the politics of biological identities, between being in "someone's" and "no one's" territory.

            The works themselves are flags, marking the "non-place" in between where interior and exterior territories, psychology and realpolitik engage; and the artist's metaphor for this is Antarctica:

 

“Antartica 'no-man's land'

 

Flag for Nothing
I have never been there
Flags
In the middle of the world
There are certain things that do not
The opposite of the north
Flag

The works make use of wide range of different materials, color spectra and designs. Pieces of  cloth hang from a pole or from strings, sometimes straight down from a wall, in shapes varying from rectangular to triangular like semaphore signals, memorial pennants, official markers, clothing, or strings of genetic material; cloth, paper and cast-plaster are scattered with identifiable impressions from recognisable fingerprints to tracings to stencilled symbols; abstract painted forms and folds evoke geological landscapes, contours and formations as well as faults and fissures: "This work is an exploration of spatial identity. By creating flags I mark a cultural and inside territory to be in another, different reality. A flag is a symbol of nationality, culture, territory and history."
            Each of  these evocations also has its interior analogue on the artist's inner battlefield. Here one can recognise the rush of energy and movement from one approach to the next, and the the rituals of cutting, sticking, amputating, stitching and folding; each result is a product of a struggle to make sense, to believe; to recognise and to be recognised, and each flag becomes an inner symbol of territory gained for the transitory moment when it is unfurled: "I use passports ( in my work) to travel between the ideas and imaginary places. What I am interested in the process of travel is: how I travel, what I see, passage de territoire, what I leave in every passage, which limits I see. By travelling I create connections despite the frontiers. I am questioning myself about identity, territory, absence, presence. In that chaos I try to find an order."

            In these works, perhaps the most poignant and ambivalent indicator of order in the chaos of globalization is the balloon marker of Google Maps, the symbol that affirms "You are here." For Bolayır, this affirmation of place does nothing more than point to a representation on a map; and it does not establish a stable "here" or sense of place or belonging. It is what one looks for when one is in-between, in the process of finding one's place; it changes from moment to moment. For the artist and for the observer, these works place a question mark after the affirmation "you are here," which does not resolve the changing identity and dynamics of the "you" or the resulting flux of "the same reality"; in Bolayır's words, "Each time I see with new eyes the same reality. I invite with this work, to enter in another awareness (consciousness) where the flag becomes another symbol of imagination and aperture of vision.”
 

© 2006-2019 by Asli Bolayir

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