Contemporary Istanbul took place a few weeks ago. Nilbar Gures was exhibited there at the stand of the New York C24 gallery.
Nilbar Güres is a Turkish artist, born in 1977 in Istanbul. She first studied art in Istanbul then in Vienna where she passed an MA at the Academy of Fine Arts. She moved to New York Ciy in 2011. Today, she lives between Vienna and Istanbul.
She questions the construction of gender in patriarchal cultures in a multidisciplinary work : videos, photographies, installations, collages... She uses her own experience to show what is hidden, to point out the contradictions of rigid traditions.
What is your artistic career history ? How did you come to art ?
I remember being three years old, listening to classical music and trying to dance ballet. Although I was very talented in music, I didn’t receive the proper attention from my parents for me to have studied it further. When I was fifteen, I won a local award for one of my paintings created for Ataturk, the founder of Turkish National Teacher’s Day. I passed the university exam a few years later for Industrial Design, as well as Painting, at the Mimar Sinan Academy of Fine Arts. After starting my study in Design, I realized I was missing the freedom and spirit of art in my life, so I changed course and began studying painting at Marmara University. My strong visual memory developed as a small child, constantly observing the things around me, like furniture and other objects, and developing their forms into something different, like animals, children, figures, etc. As an outsider, it didn’t make sense for me to play with other kids, I was mostly just day dreaming by myself — probably difficult to understand and to handle for my parents.
How feminist issues are resonating with your work ? Has it always been an underlying issue in your work ?
I am a sensitive, vulnerable, yet critical individual. When I was younger, of course se I did not know what Feminism was, but as I observed some things throughout my time in school, I began to notice discrepancies in the ways boys and girls were being treated. Our teachers separated us by gender and I saw how some things that were acceptable for boys were not for the girls. We know now that this is Sexism. Female students were hurt, verbally abused and even sexually abused by male students and that was accepted, passed off as “normal”. Injustice is a huge topic for my work, I can’t bare the idea of class and discrimination based on gender between living beings. Naturally, I started becoming aware and protecting myself in the areas in which I could be hurt or abused within my female environment. Now I know this to be Feminism :-) My perception of the world did not change, it only became stronger, so these feelings are still alive in me and I have a powerful took to speak out about my observations and feelings — this is Art.
connected to fabric and the strong notions of time and space in history it is able to provide. I sometimes paint on fabrics or use them to cover my sculpture; fabrics can create bodies. Fabric transcends time and allows one to understand and relate to other periods. Fashion is always inspired by global, historical and political shift, which make it all the more interesting.
What do you want to tell in your artworks ?
I try to talk about many injustices, I criticize systems of class and rules created by men about the artificial and inhuman, body rules that stem from major conservative politics. Sometimes artist can function as newspapers, some issues are not in the public’s daily life and then come artists, who realize something about it and make people confront these issues and talk about them. Local matters become global dilemmas.
I strongly believe in the strength of the visual arts, especially when it takes place in public spaces. I ask curators to exhibit my work in store windows or on billboards. Sometimes people don't have the time to listen to another individual’s reality or they simply don’t want to listen at all. In such situations we can show images and the message can be easily digestible without any personal pressures. The visual arts are a great form of communication. It is unimposing; it is able to convey what language can not almost instantaneously.
A tip for beginner artist ?
They should not follow other artists too much, spending time in their individual worlds is very important to finding one’s own path.