June 14, 2012 - Akbank Sanat - Maureen Connor
June 14, 2012

Maureen Connor

Maureen Connor, Heads from ‘the Sixth Sense’ (video still), 1993.*

Maureen Connor

31 May–28 July 2012

Akbank Art Center
Istiklal Cad. No: 8 
3443 Beyoglu, Istanbul 

T +90 212 2523500-01


Curated by Hasan Bulent Kahraman

Contradictions and identity: the plural and the singular
Connor’s works are almost entirely like a topography of the periods in which they have been produced. Connor was carrying out an in-depth questioning of the relationships of art-market-capitalism as early as the 1990s. Questions around what an artist remaining outside of market values and mechanisms could produce and provide, and what such an artist’s efficiency and impact might be were within her realm of interests. Let us not forget that in this so-called postmodern era, postmodernity itself was described as ‘the cultural logic of late capitalism.’

Connor then moved the issue of body and identity, a subject-signifier of capitalism and market—among others. She rendered both of these phenomena tangible through the subject of the female: again, amongst the most debated issues of social theory after the 1990s. With the works she produced that are now presented to the viewers at the exhibition, Connor proposes an array of questions directed towards all of these issues.

The exhibition could be considered to have two layers. Connor is presenting works before 1990, produced and exhibited at a much earlier date, together with recent works. This is a reference to the transformation emphasized earlier, to its projection crystallized in the artist. Almost a Lavoisierian stance: the conservation of matter. In conjuction with that Connor deals with the museum space, and its expression on the human plane as a production area of the artistic platform. This has to be referred to as the relationship between the creative field and consumption.

The second layer of the exhibition is a plane of questioning. At every corner, in every work, the viewer is brought face to face with himself/herself. This could be perceived as a policy of participation. But it is an approach that also involves alienation and abstraction. These could be seen in the example of Narrow Escape. The wealth of the Baroque background is surprising. Roles cut out for femininity coincide completely with the extremely efficient images in the video. This is a correspondence containing all the contradictions covered by the title of the exhibition. While these predefined roles with clear sexual references are revealed on an axis of beauty, award, competition, womb-birth, and food-slimness, the viewer will be questioning himself/herself in terms of the situations in this context.

This exhibition is rich enough in content to be conceived as a test laboratory for the post-structuralist feminist studies of the 1990s, and is also dense enough to become an inventory of post-Lacanian issues. An examination of the female/feminine condition and the politics of the body against the thresholds of identity and consciousness (and of course the unconscious as well) is not an easy process. It requires the artwork to be abstracted from itself, while simultaneously acquiring a philosophical breadth/substance.

However, this is a critical phenomenon. Because at this stage the ontological characteristics of the artwork could be obstructed. Thus, the discourse of the artwork/art that is expected to be active, becomes passive and art assumes the reality of a meta-narrative. Yet, Connor’s work crystallizes at a point opposite to this. While the artwork creates its own ontological reality, in Connor’s works, the problematics mentioned earlier are formed providing vast expanses for a posteriori readings of the work on a secondary level. Another quality of Connor must be noticed here. Although, this exhibition and Connor’s works could be read within the framework of feminist art, or the issues of femininity/body/identity/belonging, they are narratives that seize the shortcomings of the visual ideology and that face up to it.

At a time when ‘endism’ has become the dominant discourse and the rhetoric of the ‘post-ist’ era has begun, Maureen Connor’s exhibition offers a ground determining that the individual and the singular, the social and the plural could only breed through contradictions, and that lets the viewer define these once more.

*Image above:
Maureen Connor, Heads from ‘the Sixth Sense’ (video still), 1993. Commissioned for the 1993 Whitney Biennial. Videography: Jean de Boission and Terri Dewhirst.

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