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ARCOmadrid 2023 - The Mediterranean: A Round Sea
Curated by Marina Fokidis, advised by Pedro G. Romero, Bouchra Khalili, and Hila Peleg, Madrid. February 2023.

Galerie Martin Janda is showing Nilbar Güreş at the ARCO Madrid 2023 in the section The Mediterranean: A Round Sea, curated by Marina Fokidis, advised by Pedro G. Romero, Bouchra Khalili, and Hila Peleg.

Nilbar Güreş (*1977 in Istanbul, lives and works in Vienna and Istanbul) explores notions of human power, social gender roles, relationships, identity, and culture in her work. Out of long-term research and cultural observation, Güreş creates narratives which are often marked by humour and poetic irony but also with strong social-political undertones. She utilizes a performative approach, particularly in her photographic and sculptural works, which is also visible in her collages, drawings, paintings, and videos.

The video installation Torn (2018) is about Didem, a friend of Nilbar Güreş', who was continually discriminated against and aggressively pursued for being a trans woman. On a particularly brutal incident in Istanbul, she was violently dragged into a car, robbed and almost lost her life. Güreş dedicates a video and an installation to her survival and perseverance.


Flowers (2020)

She filmed and photographed Didem in their hometown of Izmir. For the photograph, which was taken on a balcony overlooking the city, she positioned Didem in front of a piece of patterned fabric that frames her as if she were in a portrait painting. The background is provided by a section of urban Izmir with a striking minaret pointing up right alongside Didem. The installation consists of the photograph and the fabric, with a cut-out in the shape of a large, elongated hole – the shape of the scar on Didem's neck. Both the photograph and the fabric are hanging on a standard washing line, the kind often found attached to the outside walls of houses. For Güreş, Torn has a special socio-political relevance – in particular with regard to queer people: The cut in the cloth “references the violent emptiness of society that tries to cover itself up through its victims. LGBTQAI people are the victims of hate crimes." (Silvia Eiblmayr)

Güreş’ richly associative small-scale paintings tackle similarly serious issues but with a playful irony, because, as the artist says herself, humour can generate hope. Her dynamic and vibrantly colorful paintings offer positive alternative scenarios of how a society’s mindful engagement with nature could look like. In these paintings, Güreş presents a diverse spectrum of human bodies firmly imbedded in the natural settings that surround them, hinting at the inherent connectedness between human beings and nature.


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