ART SEEN: Ghosts of the past and present honoured at grunt gallery

At both the front and back of the gallery, beige drapes block anyone from casually looking at what’s inside the exhibition Ghost Spring. You have to make an effort to see what’s inside by parting the drapes. That gesture, of touching and moving fabric to the side to enter, made me feel I was entering a place where something out of the ordinary was going on.

If the gallery frames the space as a place where art takes place, then the drapes frame the space a second time. They’re like flexible walls that mark off an interior world where something intimate is going on.

Inside, on the floor and walls, are seven sculptural works that resemble memorials: four on the floor and three on the walls. The three on the walls look like they could be the ghosts suggested by the exhibition title. Each one looked like partial figures with white cloth covering a head and outstretched arms holding aloft a red carnation. I found them spooky.

The red carnation and white cloth refer to the Saturday Mothers (Cumartesi Anneleri), a group of women who have gathered for more than 660 Saturdays in the main protest area in Istanbul. They’re protesting all those disappeared by the Turkish regime in the 1980s and 1990s. In a political context, disappeared means people who have been abducted, usually tortured, and often killed with the body hidden or disposed of without officials acknowledging what has been done. In their protests, the Saturday Mothers all carry a red carnation and wear a white veil.

The exhibition at grunt gallery is by the mother and son team of Dilara Akay and Derya Akay. Dilara lives and works in Turkey; her son Derya was born in Istanbul and lives in Vancouver.

Stills from Ghost Spring, an exhibition on funeral practices in Turkey, by the mother/son team of Dilara Akay and Derya Akay at grunt gallery from Jan. 5 to Feb. 17, 2018. [PNG Merlin Archive]

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Ghost Spring is at grunt gallery to Feb. 17.

The memorials are based on the Akay family’s traditions as well as the practices of other Turks in the southern, rural part of the country. The installation creates a public place to express grief for the disappeared.

Source:: Vancouver Sun – Entertainment

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