Melİha Sözeri's first solo exhibition, "Dust," features a set of interesting ideas. It treats metal sparkles as if they were lace. "Noise," the most ambitious work in the exhibition, consists of a piano made of stainless steel wire mesh. "Serial no: 1," another significant work, imagines a knitting machine made of marble. A mirror, a makeup table, and a drying rack populate the gallery entrance. Made of bronze wire mesh, they unsettle the viewer from the start.
"I named this exhibition 'Dust' because dust is the material prima of existence," Sözeri said in an interview last week.
"It is a process of continuous contraction, relaxation, expansion, recovery, separation and reuniting [...] The body of this exhibition consists of replicas of ordinary objects of everyday life. They are made up of metal-wire material on an individual scale: Cosmetics, cheval glasses, sewing machines, underwear, vacuum cleaners [...] My works borrow the industrial society's re-manufacturing strategy."
Most of works on display at Bozlu Art Project's new exhibition were produced in the past two years. Sözeri has used replicas of everyday objects to interrogate the reproduction strategies of capitalism. She chose to focus on emptiness and test Paul Klee's claim that "a real creation is the creation of a positive emptiness." Unfortunately, not all of these interesting ideas have been realized with taste.
But the intellectual assertiveness and the uncanny aesthetics of the show can be linked to the legacy of surrealism which Sözeri salutes in numerous works in the show.
"The exhibition deals with both the metaphors and the mundane," Sözeri said. "The conceptual approach of this exhibition opens up a critical distance between reproducing objects from inside everyday life, inside the house and the body, feminine privacy, closeness and sexuality. My works purify these objects where social relations are stored from their ideological burdens."
For "Dust," Sözeri mainly used perforated wire mesh material. "Besides the stone which is the classical material of the sculpture area, I used various materials such as neon and glass," she said.
Meliha Sözeri, "Serial No:3," 2018.
"My working methods are based on some sort of reproduction strategy. Firstly, I take three-dimensional objects. These objects are reduced to two-dimensional patterns and templates. Then they are reunited, and cut from wire by sewing. For me the most important thing is the use of transparency. The use of transparent perforated wire mesh material in the sculptures in this exhibition dilutes objects splitting the earth into enlarged pixels or spots. The elegance, rhythm, transparency, modularity, mounting principle, light, uprightness and sharpness of the wire material are simultaneously composing the texture of this exhibition."
Sözeri's relationship with Bozlu Art Project began years ago with two group exhibitions, "Sosyomanya" and "Fear." Then she received the proposal for her first personal exhibition. "We will be in collaboration also in the following years," Sözeri said.
According to Sözeri, her exhibition lacks a centerpiece. "But there may be some works which come to the fore more than the others. One of them is the 'Noise,' which is a piano that works in reverse, lacks notes and makes digital sounds: The sound of an electric saw cutting the tree, the sound of an excavator digging in the ground, the sound of sculpting the stone, the sound of gunshots, and the sound of an explosion. It operates and assembles its materials like a sewing machine rather than an instrument. 'Noise' awakens the emptiness, which is the backbone of the exhibition. In this work, I am also trying to cast a net in the semiotic universe: Keys, touching, touch, weaving, texturing, textile and text."
Another important work is the marble stitching machine. "A cold, black, stone stitching machine, 'Series No. 1' breathes silently in the exhibition. It is a machine that will never work. It is overstuffed despite all hollow things. It is constantly falling to the bottom among other flying things. It stretches the texture of the exhibition."
In her essay accompanying the exhibition, Ezgi Bakçay writes about Sözeri's "deep connection with a Surrealists' universe. It is like touching the keys of a metal piano in the heart of the exhibition; fondling a mounted exotic animal's bright fur. The human feels sad because of the timeless beauty of something that is not here 'anymore or yet.' There are disturbing, stubborn, bright, sharp eyes of the objects, which are haunted in the forest of images, fired from the contexts of everyday life, separated and reunified."
Sözeri says works in her exhibition have lost their usable value when put on a ghost-like transparency and a mass. "I think about the labor processes as well," she said. "I carry my mode of production that is the sewing machine, pier glass, vacuum cleaner, piano, cosmetics, laboratory tubes and laundries to the area of the arts as an aesthetic product, enabling transitivity between varying categories of creative labor."
"The cosmetics turn into an aesthetic threat. The cheval glass turns into an 'interface.' The vacuum cleaner turns into a vacuum. And the piano turns into noise. These works are not a direct result of the concepts that are discussed theoretically in the exhibition. Rather they offer a collaboration of both theory and practice. The works examine various questions such as how the aesthetic perceptions are transformed, how the sculpture is layered in contemporary art."
Sözeri says she has received positive reactions from viewers. "Dust establishes conceptual relations between language, sound, body and image through forms and materials in the field of aesthetics [...] For me, one of the most important opinions was the claim that this exhibition establishes conceptual relations through forms and materials in the field of aesthetics."
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