October 13, 2017 - ARTER - CANAN: Behind Mount Qaf
October 13, 2017


CANAN, Heaven, 2017. Sculpture. Tulle curtain, sequins, rope, cloth, bell, light, motor. Photo: Murat Germen.


Behind Mount Qaf
September 12–December 24, 2017

Irmak Caddesi No: 13
Dolapdere Beyoğlu
34435 Istanbul

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CANAN’s solo exhibition Behind Mount Qaf is open at Arter through December 24, 2017. Curated by Nazlı Gürlek, the exhibition brings together new works by CANAN along with a number of earlier works offering an opportunity to examine the artist's practice through the themes of Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell.

The exhibition is named after the legendary Mount Qaf of Arabic and Persian cosmology and includes works produced in various media, such as sculpture, photography, print, embroidery, video, installation, and miniature. CANAN’s new works focus on dualisms such as light/shadow, good/evil, internal/external, reality/imaginary, and tackle the repressed aspects of the human psyche in the form of supernatural creatures, the jinn and archetypical figures, culminating in a multidimensional, mystical, symbolic, and rather enticing universe. Earlier works in which the artist uses her own body as a medium for converging the personal with the political are also featured as part of this new bewildering universe.

Arter presents a series of talks accompanying CANAN’s exhibition. The series entitled “Mount Qaf Talks” encompasses themes ranging from Jungian archetypes to mythological tales, from queer explorations of the body to intersections of feminism and art. The series started on October 10 with a talk by academic Yeliz Özay Diniz who focused on CANAN’s practice as a storyteller while exploring the narrative tradition around “strange and astonishing creatures” from Evliya Çelebi to date. Following Diniz’s exploration, editor Aylime Aslı Demir will discuss queer bodies in CANAN’s works.

On November 7, Dr. Kathy Battista, director of Sotheby’s Institute New York’s MA programme in Contemporary Art, will give a talk where she elaborates on the ambivalent relationship between humans and technology and how this intersects with feminist issues including eco-feminism and environmentalism. Later in November, Prof. Fatmagül Berktay will present an extensive overview on the cult of the mother goddess and its metaphorical meanings explored within the exhibition. Author Aksu Bora will discuss the idea of collectivity in light of theories by Carl Jung and Donna Haraway, through the duality of consciousness and subconsciousness. The talk series will end on December 22 with Prof. M. Bilgin Saydam’s exploration on the duality between the ideas of hell and heaven in terms of human psychology.

Alongside the talk series devised for general audiences, Arter will also present storytelling sessions for children in close cooperation with Seiba, an Istanbul-based storytelling centre. Exploring the mythological symbols in CANAN’s works through popular fairy tales, the performances (November 4 and 18, and December 16) will aim to enhance children and families’ interpretation of the exhibition through engaging methods of storytelling.

In collaboration with Arter, an alternative independent distribution platform in Turkey presenting nationally and internationally acclaimed arthouse films, Başka Sinema has prepared a film programme that consists of eight films selected with the inspiration driven from the themes of the exhibition: fairy tales, spirits, paganism, futurism, search for paradise, facing our fears and healing through nature. The programme will feature Ashik Kerib by Parajanov, which is an adaptation from Mikhail Lermodov’s short story, an Oriental fairy tale, a medieval fantasy with music from Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia. Kosmos by Reha Erdem is a pagan tale that involves the search for healing through nature. The Witch by Robert Eggers is an American story about a catastrophe of faith, exploring our fears and suggesting an unexpected salvation. Wild by Nicolette Krebitz is a clear reference to the book Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, a Jungian psychoanalyst, one of CANAN’s main sources of inspiration for this exhibition. Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki tells the story of a little girl wandering in a world ruled by gods, witches, and spirits, and where humans are transformed into beasts. Brazil, the film that Terry Gilliam originally wanted to call “1984 1/2," is a nightmare taking place in a retro-future world. Mad Max: Fury Road by George Miller is a dystopian tale in search of heaven and reproductive rights. Finally, Aaahh Belinda by Atıf Yılmaz, one of the very rare examples of surrealist cinema in Turkey, tackles women’s role in society. The screenings will take place between November 10 and 17 at Boğaziçi University’s Cinema Hall Sinebu and Beyoğlu Movie Theatre.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Sanatatak Education has devised a course programme entitled "Towards Mount Qaf," also derived from the themes of CANAN's exhibition. The eight-hour-long programme will take place on October 21 and 22 and is free of charge. Within the two days, academic Esen Kunt will analyse Tezer Özlü's texts on Cesare Pavese with a special attribution to places where they were written. Same day, starting from Game of Thrones, writer Esra Ertan will focus on today’s new feminism as illustrated by popular culture. While Sanatatak editor-in-chief and art critic Ayşegül Sönmez will draw a comparison between women's "sound" in today's music and the feminist video practice of the 1970s, Elif Poshor will perform an instructive example on sound and healing.

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