This work is part of my photographic project series titled ‘Ania Walwicz with her beard’. Well-known poet Ania Walwicz performed in this outfit as part of her 'Horse' project and film. Upon my suggestion of photographing her in Fitzroy Gardens forest setting, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s 'Erlking' image appeared spontaneously. And that is a poem by Goethe that has been important in Ania’s life; it is the first poem she ever encountered, told to her by her father when she was four. This photographic series portrays significant psychological landscapes of Ania’s state of existential survival in an ordinary Australian life.
Please visit my blog-post regarding my Tribute to dear Ania through this link: https://www.elifsezen.com/blog...
'The Second Homecoming' series was part of my most recent solo exhibition at Counihan Gallery (15 March-14 April 2019). The series title refers in my mind to an outsider’s perception of a fresh place. In the Cave-openings, I aim to reconceptualise the notion of homecoming by giving glimpses of various landscapes which we are encouraged to look at as if from inside a cave. These landscapes are beautiful, perfect and nurturing to gaze at, yet inevitably distanced. Initially, I was thinking of refugees, the Indigenous peoples and other displaced, but obviously the work could refer far more broadly, physically or spiritually. The Door series rather represent an elusive notion of a gateway, where everything is possible and homecoming can be dreamt into reality. Doors as magical portals resonate with a sense of returning home, this time with a truer sense of belonging; integrating the fragments of a displaced soul, and thus bonding the shadow-self with the core-self under the light of an unexpected mystical and alchemical atmosphere.
Emerging symbols and metaphors also opens us up to a paradoxical approach of questioning the (power of!!) vulnerability of each individual. They urge us to realise the potentiality arising from the gap between the visible and invisible manifestations of individual and social structures. I suggest the continual expansion of a poetic persona as a methodology of surrendering to the infinite. This existential act encourages me to speculate upon the irony of a homecoming that has only a distant possibility for a true arrival, arrival to one’s own self - especially if disordered by the current systems we live in. The concept of an ‘outsider’ in the context of social and psychological displacement is becoming more and more problematic in our societies. One of my aims is to shift perception between displacement and the re-integration of human experience, poeticise it and, in this manner, promote individual and societal change.
My project titled ‘Our garden was so green’ is a multi-panel work that suggests a cloud of images, bringing together various associations, visual and poetic images that resonate with the Battle of Gallipoli. Through images that may appear as playful, ironic, yet thought-provoking, bringing onto surface the reality of destruction and loss and the urge for liberation, the work encourages to create an emotionally evocative response to the topic “Memorialisation, Commemoration and Sacrifice”. The images in this work are symbolic representations of memorials that form part of a narrative that bridges personal with that of the collective. It suggests a cloud of images(memories and emotions), poeticising loss, and encourages the viewer to look through a wider scope of existential understanding that can promote social change. After all, collective time and memory is an inevitable result of the unspoken individual histories that need to be revealed. The pieces of my multi-panel work includes images such as symbolic representations of memorials that become part of a storytelling; a snapshot of a child of a soldier who died in this war; images that associate with Aynali Carsi(Mirror Bazaar); images of nature (such as a dead bird) that also brings the connection between war and destruction of nature and animals - in addition to humans…
This digital poem highlights the unspoken tragic realities of many countless women, thus it speculates upon the poetics of language, where silence (ironically) becomes a conceptual foundation for communication. It reveals the unspoken layers of personal narratives of individuals who were imprisoned and silenced in socio-psychological terms. It not only sheds light on their history dismissed by others, but it also brings forth a possibility of poetic justice whilst encouraging us to re-think about the existentiality of the unspoken. In this way rebirthing into a new notion of liberty becomes possible for many, so we can look at their realities with fresh eyes.
This poem was originally published in my recent collection of poems ‘A Little Book of Unspoken History’ (Puncher & Wattmann, 2018). Find out more: https://www.elifsezen.com/publ...
This gallery consists of multiple images from my performance, as well as a digital projection of my poem that complements the work. In my performance ‘Night Watch’, the purpose was to merge the pain vibrating through body organs (the memory of personal pain), with the perfection and healing power of nature. I installed the ultraviolet silk-printed images of my body organs onto trees, and in the process of letting them recover (in a symbolic sense), I simply sat and meditated. This act of meditating was intended to support the surrendering process of the body organs, letting them reconnect with the whole so that the performance for integration can take place. Nature here was like a blank piece of paper so to speak. In this way, poetry could be written on it symbolically; poetic potential could be activated. In this meditative space, poetry has the function of freeing. It has the symbolic function to correct; to reconstruct the self and reinterpret a memory-trace. It encourages one to simply ‘be’ in silence. In such poetic manifestation of one’s self and life, silence can be curative. As I stated once, silence absorbs all things, grinds them and releases them neutralised back to the world. Thus, poetry can be seen as a creative field for finely tuning language (as well as perception) and aligning it to a subtle level of the soul or an inner emotion. In this project, I tapped into this notion of silence that appears as a gateway for manifesting the unspeakable and the suppressed. It also encourages bringing into awareness a person’s relationship with his own body and the space (the existential abyss) around it. Thus, it transforms the tension into a peaceful inner state emerging from acceptance. In my work, I also found this space to be illuminating and freeing, and in this specific performance, I had a chance to explore this potential space. Here, ‘day’ and ‘night’ flourish as metaphors for memory and oblivion, for hiding and revealing, and for illness and recovery. In this project (both in the poem and the performance appearing as photographic visual images), the possibility of surrendering the ontological self corresponds to the process of entering a nocturnal experience. As part of this project, in my projection poem 'Night Watch', I speculated upon one’s potentiality to explore and live through a sense of correcting and restoring, when facing the past, present and the future. (Text reference: Elif Sezen, Night Watch: Reconceptualising memory through poetry and visual images, Doctoral thesis, Monash University, p. 103-105, 2013)
In my sculptural projects I navigate between various media and themes. For instance, in my work 'Dreamcatcher for advanced souls' is an allegorical representation of a dreamcatcher, signifying that the soul needs constant polishing and care not to be dampened by current hyper-materialistic life styles and left-brain dominant societies. This representation implies that the more one unfolds the layers of the ego, the more one is able to see clearly through the eye of a mind-heart nexus the many-layered meaning of dreams, insights and intuitive messages that can help integrating one’s core-being, bridging mind and body. This sculpture’s existential signature is activated when the audience is encouraged to re-think more deeply about the suggested themes; eventually unwrapping the significance of dreams that can contribute to new understandings of social and psychological constructs.
Likewise, in my miniature bust of the well-known French sculptor Camille Claudel (1864 - 1943) titled 'The Second Camille', I wanted to reconceptualise her image by also painting the face to red. Inviting her and highlighting the unspoken trauma gives me the chance to release the memory of suffering and victimisation in the process of reconceptualising an identity into a whole and renewed being.
In ‘Our night afternoon’, characters meet at a common sphere with their faces painted red, sharing the thread of pain and loss, eventually manifesting the collective dimension of an autobiographical narrative. I believe that this approach can suggest an understanding about the ongoing dialectics between remembering and forgetting, in the context of reconstructing the identity through the evocative, visual symbology and semiology of a mixed media work. These images also suggests a ghostly presence and thus disappearance, a state of impermanence, which in turn brings the idea of an evolving memory-trace into a fresh context.
In my project titled ‘I am’, I explore the psychological and domestic tension of female identities embodied in each other with the connecting color red. This autobiographical yet collective exploration encourages us to rediscover the potentiality of individual expressions in a growing globalized society. By shifting the perception of ‘inner and outer’, ‘personal and universal’, ‘trauma and liberation’, I intend to explore new and evocative ideas of self-representational art through challenging and expanding the possibilities of visual language. This work, consisting of three photographic prints, unwraps a multi-dimensional aspect of the theme ‘Projections’ by tapping into various existential and contemporary issues of our time.
In ‘The bird and the cage’, Auguste Rodin’s bust L’Adieu (The Farewell, 1892) is the main reference I reflected upon to create one of the images that is part of this two-panel digital projection. In Rodin’s narrative, this work was an allegorical representation of a woman on the threshold of a farewell, and Camille Claudel was the model for this sculpture. I wanted to extend the meaning of this image by seeing it as a woman who is sculpting herself. For me, this representation became a symbolisation of reconstructing the self. The other part of this projection work that appears rather like a fractal design or imagery exploring a childhood memory (existential snapshot of sisters) with an image of a bird. The bird’s dissected heart is pulled out as if calling for attention of the outside world. The multilayered message of this work is to encourage an evocative response, in the process of intertwining the childhood woundedness with the notion of self-recovery and liberation.
The thematic base of the drawings of the 'Absences' series extends from my early print media works. The subtle notions of spiritual emergence of the autobiographical persona emerge in the threshold of blurred boundaries between imagination and reality. In these works, the concept of ‘home’ becomes playful yet challenging in re-positioning the psychological notions of ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. Symbolic refigurations appear as a characteristic experiment in my recent works of poetic narrative.
In my latest drawing 'Mother and child of the Red Land', I attempted to bring to life an Indigenous mother and child (who are symbolic and representative of many other families) as traditional owners and ongoing custodians of Australia, otherwise known as the Red Land. The colour red has a deeply redemptive quality to it (as it appears in many of my artworks): In this specific drawing it brings forth an existential and conceptual urge for a multidimensional healing, purification and liberation of the unspoken and unforgiven traumas of deep separation and loss. Working on this drawing was very meaningful and cathartic for me also, as it reaffirmed empathy and a sense of connectedness flourishing within me, while I speculate upon a symbolic redemption transcending time and space.
This folder showcases handmade artist's books of mine in variable dimensions and themes.
This gallery showcases my early work, alongside my relatively new work (such as a digital projection of the garden project), and it speculates upon the open-ended garden metaphor. My garden image might appear as a symbolic and even perhaps pre-linguistic place for departures and homecomings (or non-homecomings) –more inner that the out, more outer than the in. It resonates as emotional abyss, at the same time containing vibrations of memory traces and manifesting their playfulness: Voices, birds, houses, fields, flowers, colours which worn out from their identity, non-belonging things, sisters, my mother’s voice, me as my mother, my mother as me, ‘we’ as many others. The Garden is elusive as a poem, in Heideggerian terms, it is “pure speaking”; manifestation of purity in between the visible and the invisible, it is pure poetry... But, with all the associations which The Garden evokes within, it had to surrender itself with all that it contains. This is not just simply a confession, or opening up; it is rather a phenomenological act of first revealing and then erasing a memory and giving space to other new possible things. It suggests a new sense of time and space, by giving me the opportunity to reconceptualise the primal memory of home, or of the memory of the absence of home. For me, this newly constructed image played a characteristic role in shifting the perception between memories of familial disruption/trauma and the self being construed in the very present time. (Text reference: Elif Sezen, Nigth Watch: Reconceptualising memory through poetry and visual images, Doctoral thesis, Monash University, p. 89-91, 2013)