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Fidelity - Yesim Akdeniz

Galleries Gerhard Hofland

Bilderdijkstraat 165 C
1053 KP Amsterdam
+31 (0)20 4121772

Open Thu - Sat / 13-17 hrs

Exhibition 24 Nov — 23 Dec

Opening 24 Nov, 17-21 hrs


1.	Yesim Akdeniz, The Dance of the Last Panther, 2016, oil on canvas, 120 x 140 cm

Gerhard Hofland is proud to announce Fidelity, a solo exhibition by Yesim Akdeniz (Turkey, 1978). This exhibition is the first collaboration between the artist and the gallery.

The works of Yesim Akdeniz are symbolic narratives that make use of recognisable and existing forms of cultural production often emerging from or associated with exponents of Modernism and the politics attached to it. As she tends to make exhibitions rather than single paintings, her presentations are concentrated around multiple issues she engages with.

In her work, Akdeniz often involves well-known pieces of ‘design’, such as buildings, paintings, or furniture, through which she responds and wonders about how the original idealogical intentions of these designs have changed over time, how these intentions are presently problematic – for example as symbols of masculinity and culturally constructed white male dominance or as hopeful symbolism for a young country now older and more politically biased – and offers new contexts for them by adapting them into interiors, rescaling them, and by juxtaposing them along other elements both pre-existing and fictional.

In Fidelity Akdeniz responds to the apparent relationship between the designs of early Modernism in western Europe and the Modernist form-language that spread as the symbolic architecture of the then recently formed Republic of Turkey. Both exponents of Modernism are symbolic for a male-dominated history that currently has come under rightful scrutiny and demands a reconsideration of this gendered form-language in particular, while both of these mutual exponents of form-language are dealt with very differently in a cultural and historical sense. So, while both forms of architecture emerged from a strong idealogical background towards a more enlightened society, the local cultural embedding of both forms of architecture as forms of design and symbolic representation have been treated entirely different.

Crucial to Akdeniz’ work is her stance towards the notion of design. As an overly used watchword for a cultural idiom that is rapidly hollowing out itself, ‘design’ has increasingly become a term associated with anything that is made and materially constructed by human beings. While the common phrase is that “what we make is what defines us”, Akdeniz opts that design should not refer to human-made artefacts that are quickly historicised and brought into the archaeological operation of the museum, but rather to everything created by humanity, including the current set of cultural crises. It are dynamics such as the “…precarious movements of refugees, the collapse of biodiversity, the global flow of information and resources, the holes in the ozone layer, the mircoplastic diffused throughout the oceans, and the black carbon everywhere in the air and soil, not historicised and musealised artefacts…”, that are the forms of design that define humanity.*

Simultaneously, Akdeniz is concerned with responding to the cultural concept of the Anthropocene in which humanity continuously designs and constructs without paying attention to non-human forces in such events. For Akdeniz nature plays an important role throughout these events, including various considerations of the human and human culture as part of nature rather than something above or beyond it.

While being embedded and invested conceptually to a high degree, the paintings of Akdeniz are communicating a surrealist and dreamy world, like visions from a parallel universe. This is mainly the result of Akdeniz’ intentions to compose her paintings through finding unconventional connections between existing cultural artefacts and stories (as well as the politics connected to them) and how (her) perception relates to and alters these connections. Her paintings are, in this respect, culminations of various divergent, but essentially related concerns, considerations, and perceptions.

Yesim Akdeniz (Turkey, 1978) lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany. She studied at the Art Academy Düsseldorf and De Ateliers, Amsterdam. Her work was exhibited at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, PAK Kunstverein, Hamburg, the BonnerKunstverein, Bonn, and Museum für angewandtekunst / MAK, Vienna, among other renowned international art spaces. Besides her artistic practice, Akdeniz currently holds the position of Professor at the Art Academy Düsseldorf.

*: Beatriz Colomina & Mark Wrigley, Are We Human: notes on an archaeology of design, 2016


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