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Curated by Fulya Erdemci & Kevser Guler, Cappadocia. May 2016.

Conducting research on Bektashi culture in Hacıbektaş, the center of Bektashism in Anatolia, Nilbar Güres focused on the images and understanding of sanctity in this culture, which are intertwined with nature and bear an affinity with Shamanism. In her sculptural installation, which she created following this course, she devised aesthetic forms that conjoined the traditions of faith in Cappadocia while pondering nature, sanctity and culture together.

The emergence of these forms and objects, just like the thought of journey in Bektashism, necessitate a transformation process. Transforming the objects she finds/selects through such a process, the artist creates micro-narratives that converse with one another. Interpreting, sometimes simulating, the motifs behind an Anatolian carpet, the legibility of which was decreased because of the knots, she designed animal figures from everyday materials such as textiles, wool, knits and lace, and talismans and totems from “holy” plants like thistle / astragalus and natural minerals like salt in her sculpture “Salty” (2016), a part of the installation she produced for a chapel located in the Kızılçukur. Recalling the idea of animism in Alevism, she also included in her installation stones and objects she found in nature resembling live animals, for instance a whale.

With her statue entitled “Back to Back” (2016) departing from the iconic picture of Haji Bektash Veli depicted with a gazelle and a lion on his lap, she aimed to create hybrid forms which speak to both gender identity and inter-species realtions. She thus set out to pursue a primordial notion of solidarity and peace: Could differences that are deemed incompatible both naturally and historically construct a life in peace? Can nature, in contrast to the adversarial culture of present-day political practices, propose a new horizon to consider peace and make it possible?
 Offering a contemporary interpretation of the culture of faith in the region and the meanings of this culture that have been erased and have transformed throughout history with different readings, the artist examines the forms of these narratives that have seeped into everyday life. The fresco of St. Onuphrius at the Yılanlı Kilise (Snake Church) located in the Göreme Open Air Museum has been the source of stories fabricated around the sex of the figure---which is not based on historical information, but is inspired by the depiction of its body. Suggesting that these interpretations reveal our own points of view rather than the sex of the figure, the artist has created an image that lends to layered readings pertaining to gender politics. Designed a souvenir “postcard” titled “From Where You Stand” (2016) the artist questions the relationship of history with myth, story and interpretation.


Cappadox Exhibiton Concept:


"Let us cultivate our garden" is a quote from the last sentence of Voltaire's classic novel Candide. This sentence summarizes the worldview of an old farmer who Candide meets in Istanbul (Constantinople), after traveling the whole world in pursuit of happiness. It also holds a proposal against contemporary lifestyles, which primarily generate heat and speed.


The imperative "let us" in the title anticipates acting together, while "garden" and "cultivate" lead to metaphorical conceptions: "garden" implies our immediate environment, our life and relationships. Likewise, the word "cultivate" involves the acts of humbly developing, shaping and transforming, even preparing a Future which is in harmony with nature.


This theme also leads to further connotations; such as the human-caused planetary changes—climate change, deforestation, loss of farmland, water and air pollution and loss of biodiversity. The Cappadox art programme will consider resources of all living beings—such as water, seed and food—through political and cultural lenses. It will take soil as the value parameter and reflect on alternative living practices, which are not necessarily centered on human beings.


The diverse and independently programmed activities of Cappadox related to art, music, gastronomy, and the outdoors (including nature walks and sunrise concerts) will be brought together through different scopes and intensities under the festival's theme. They will be held in spaces that range from agricultural fields to historic sites, from touristic structures to local settlements.


Curated by: Fulya Erdemci & Kevser Guler


Back to Back (2016)


If You Find A Stone That Looks Like An Animal, Wrap It In A White Cloth And Remove It Only Gently From It’s Place (2016)


Gloves - Spears (2016)


Salty (2016)


Nest in Nest (2016)


When The Knots Are Read (2016)

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