January 9, 2023
Vague Voids and Vortices Within Us
Bahadır Yıldız's 7th solo exhibition titled "Vague Voids and Vortices Within Us" is curated by Nergis Abıyeva and will take place at Quick Art Space between January 13 and February 29.
Vague Voids and Vortexes Within Us
I started to engage with Bahadır’s works in the summer of 2020. At the time, I was preparing the monography titled Murat Sinkil: Dervish of Contemporary Painting. While researching Murat Sinkil, who passed away in 2016, the artist’s family and friends referred me to Bahadır for an interview. It was around this time that Bahadır had decided to move his studio and home out of Istanbul and first settled in Sapanca. When we visited the artist’s studio in Sapanca as a team of five composed of writers, curators and collectors from Istanbul, we found ourselves in a kind of 'land of strange wastes'. I was stunned by how Bahadır’s production was in constant movement, how he used a variety of materials, the way he transformed other people’s waste like an alchemist, as well as the companionship he had with Kangu, his dog. Since that day, I have had the urge in me to share with the audience the transformation of Y. Bahadır Yıldız’s works after Galeri Apel.
Waste Plastic and Carrion Aesthetics
When we first started to sow the seeds of Quick Art Space, I invited Bahadır to Quick Tower. He warmed up to the idea of 'taking over' the lobby starting from the square of the building, which was not built as an exhibition space in the first place and naturally does not stand out as a classical exhibition space, but has great interaction all around. (I think that in addition to our dialogue, the cat and dog stakeholders of Quick Tower also influenced Bahadır’s decision!) While thinking about the framework of the exhibition, we focused on the concept of 'carrion aesthetics' that Bahadır himself came up with. Referring to the repulsive visuality of waste plastic, carrion aesthetics takes a unique place in terms of defining both the artist’s production and thinking practice. Bahadır, who takes over the Quick Tower’s square with sculptures, has created gigantic works from waste materials fit for open air and changing weather conditions.
The artist made these anthropomorphic sculptures in 2015 using molten raw materials and discharge out of waste in the plastic factory production areas in the industrial zone. He transforms waste raw materials into hybrid figures during the production process in the zone. The works he produces by utilizing a gap of mass production in the factory production area are also subject to a performative process.
These interactive sculptures, created by using treated fossils as plastic raw materials, are like the above-ground representations of fossils from the underground. This installation, which at first glance appears as a kind of playground for adults, children, and animals, also showcases the artist’s skill in applying large-scale sculptures outdoors.
Conceptualizing the Material
The artist, whose materials range from plants, shells, residues and natural dyes to industrial wastes, has also realized his works in places such as mountains and forests at different periods of his life. Focusing on human beings, their habitat and their relationship with other species in his works in the last decade, especially on the axis of nature-urban duality, the artist works on the similarities of human neurons in nature with materials such as root paint obtained from natural remains. The "Dendrite" series, which he started in 2014 as well, are made with paints produced from the remains of nature, roots and plants collected from the forest. The dendrite, which acts as a receiver in neurons, takes its name from dendron, which means tree trunk, because it resembles a tree in terms of form. While roots ensure the survival of a tree by collecting nutrient particles accumulated by nature, dendrites act as the source of life by transmitting all kinds of information from the environment to the brain. As such, information from a single source multiplies and gains completely different meanings. It creates an integrity of meaning like the nitrogen extracted from the soil by the roots becoming complexed in the tree turning into an apple.
Becoming interested in sandpaper in 2007 when he made sand sculptures, Yıldız collects and transforms pieces from the waste containers of a sandpaper factory after various experiments. According to the artist, the spiral forms, which grow and move by overlapping with the reiterated act of wrapping , try to establish an imaginary affinity with the defence mechanisms of a person, with the structure that he weaves and grows as a shell. Perceiving the sandpaper as a shell and attempting to conceptualize the material itself, Bahadır treats the material as a structure that he constructs for himself and weaves between himself and the outside.
The artist explains as follows the sculpture titled "Ouroboros", which he started to make using sandpaper again when he stayed at home during the pandemic in 2020.
Setting off from a point and continuing in circular movements, the form merges and integrates with its own end. The resulting spiral form is Ouroboros, which symbolizes the cycle of life, devouring and rebirthing itself, and which also means integrity. The sculpture symbolizes the moment when the snake, swallowing its own tail, moves towards/against itself. The power, rhythmic movement and energy required for the beginning are present in Ouroboros. As the sandpaper is an abrasive product as a material and factory waste, a form-content unity is established, while the cyclical forms that grow by adding to each other create a duality through abrasion and renewal. The waste material, which stands against life, transforms and circulates in time.
In the sculpture titled "Cyclic Strategies" (2021), which occupies a different place among the sculptures he made using sandpaper in his series "Psychic Defence Strategies", the irritating particles change their shells and multiply in a soft flow. The spiral forms that grow and transform by adding to each other remind of a woven cocoon that symbolizes new possibilities and transformation with the associations and encounters they create.
Bahadır uses materials such as onion peel, henna, hibiscus, wallpaper, old household items and the like in order to establish an organic connection with the home and he works on the memory of space. Since 2014, he has been transforming household items with waste plastic, emphasizing consumption and habits in his works. For the artist, the idea of turning household items into skeletons, watching their transformation phases as well as getting rid of things is exciting. He takes everyday materials such as graters, pots, fryers and many household items such as bed springs to the factory and uses them in the skeleton of the sculptures or pours 250 degrees of waste plastic on them. By using the materials of everyday life in this way, he rectifies his home and the safe space ‘Household'.
Interested in issues such as power, the institution of family, identity and belonging, and influenced by the movements of displacement/migration, Y. Bahadır Yıldız's exhibition “Vague Voids and Vortexes Within Us” can also be seen as an extension of the artist’s desire to play in unexpected places.
January 2024, Erenköy.
Translated by Zeynep Nur Ayanoğlu.