Young Turkish Artists Grapple With Extinction of Species, Alienation from Nature in Istanbul Exhibit

serkan ozer extinction turkish student artwork photo

Serkan Özer, "Extinction," 2011. Image: Pera Museum.

This summer, the well-regarded Pera Museum in Istanbul turned three of its floors over to art students from Anadolu University, giving them free reign to craft works representing the theme of "Present Times" ("Şimdiki Zamanlar") -- "all that we experience today, things that affect us, [that] we find worth describing, and internalize to make our own," in the words of one of their instructors in the exhibition catalog.

What the three students featured here found worth depicting about today's world is the fragile state of our environment. 'Extinction'
In Serkan Özer's "Tükeniş" (Extinction), the lifelike ceramic-clay forms of a sea turtle and a bald ibis, two endangered species native to Turkey, melt into their pedestals, disappearing, he writes, like a lit candle:

The objective of my project is to raise awareness [about] animals that are extinct or about to become extinct and to return to humankind's unity with nature... I've undertaken this project with the hope that at least we can give a chance to the creatures we have not yet extinguished and that maybe we can be the cure, and not the cancer of this world...

kadir tavaz rhinoceros turkish student artwork photo

Kadir Tavaz, "Rhinoceros," 2010. Photo: Pera Museum.

Kadir Tavaz's "Gergedan" (Rhinoceros) also depicts an animal at risk. Using marble and woven metal strips, the artist has created an expressive "face that is about to disappear," in his words.

'Longing for Nature'
Young artist Setenay Sipahi, by contrast, drew from a personal sense of loss to create "Doğaya Özlem" (Longing for Nature), an installation evoking stones in a riverbed:

setenay sipahi longing for nature turkish student artwork photo

Setenay Sipahi, "Longing for Nature," 2011. Photo: Pera Museum.
As someone who was born in a garden house in a Balkan city, the natural beauties of which are yet to be wasted by the capitalist order, washed her feet in the pure waters of the flowing river, learned to swim in the calm sea of the nearby coastal towns, admired the stones and pebbles changing place with various plays of light in the water, I am unfortunately suffering from a "longing for nature." In my project, I sought to invite you to the seashore of my childhood and... remind us of nature, to which we belong...

Part of the Pera Museum's six-year tradition of displaying works by young artists during the summer months, "Şimdiki Zamanlar" features a total of 82 works in a variety of mediums -- painting, sculpture, print-making, graphics, animation, ceramics, glass, and interior design -- by 111 artists from the Anadolu University Faculty of Fine Arts. The exhibit is on display through this weekend, ending October 2, in Istanbul's Beyoğlu district.

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