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Recurring moments in ambiguity: second time with the chair

Zeynep Kayan's exhibition titled second time with the chair continues until May 11 at Zilberman's main gallery space in Mısır Apartmanı. We are looking at what the chair image in the exhibition opens up and the dialogue that the works create

Yazı: Aybüke Sanuç

Zeynep Kayan, second time with the chair: ip II, 2021

Zeynep Kayan, second time with the chair: ip, 2023

 Zeynep Kayan’s artistic practice focuses on exploring the repetitive structure of the variations she creates by using video, photography, and sound pieces. She uses repetition as a fundamental tool in her work mostly focused on portraiture and performance. It could be said that Kayan’s artworks aim to transform the ‘old’ into the new, which is a process of creation based on distorting the image. Kayan chooses to define her works as experiments on the variations of a single image, a gesture, a sound or a line of words that are inspired by movement and change. Zeynep Kayan's Second Time with the Chair exhibition provides a basis for discussion on the concepts of moment and duration and offers a view into the endless possibilities of our actions within the frame of perception.

Zeynep Kayan, second time with the chair, 2023, 3 channel video

Zeynep Kayan's solo exhibition, second time with the chair, consists of works she produced during her artist residency at the Rijksakademie. Emerging after her second time engaging with the chair in her practice, the works in the exhibition are an attempt at a dialogue on self through repetition. We first encounter the image of a chair in Kayan’s video works titled 00'43" (2022) and 00'38"(2022), which represent Kayan’s relationship with her grandmother. Then, with her performance piece from Rijksakademie Open Studios 2023, i started on the second week and i'm still pulling the chair (2023), we witness the image of the chair gains momentum through her body, fueled by the power of her past memories. This relationship is particularly noteworthy when considering that the artist has moved away from the physical locations of these memories, instead recreating them by reinterpreting her own body in a foreign place. The chair represents a significant emotional object in Kayan’s life, not only for having been inherited from her grandmother but also with the reference it holds to an entity that does not exist. Kayan’s works transform this common object into a being that contains the dualities of past and future by taking on all the possibilities that may or may not exist.

Zeynep Kayan, second time with the chair, Installation View Photo: Kayhan Kaygusuz

 Entering the exhibition, a blurred portrait of Kayan welcomes us, referencing the uncertainty of a dialogue she establishes with herself. Going beyond the dominant black-and-white color palette of Kayan’s practice, the blue portraits renew the existing moments ambiguously, creating a rupture in time. In what could be described as an epistemological confrontation, Kayan is in a vague encounter with her inner self on a chair inherited from her grandmother, embodied by the nothingness of past memories.

 Zeynep Kayan, second time with the chair: blue portraits I-II-III, Fine Art Print, 120 x 56cm, 2024.

"Zeynep Kayan's second exhibition with the chair creates a basis for discussion on the concepts of 'moment' and 'duration', while offering a view at the endless possibilities of our actions within the framework of 'perception'."

 Positioned in the middle of the possibilities of indefinitely repeating moments, the string installations suspended from the ceiling consolidate Kayan's narrative and examine what is and could be at the end of the rope. The placement of site-specific strings overflows beyond Kayan’s videos, creating cross-references between the objects in the exhibition, reinforcing a change in each other’s narratives. As we move forward on the axis of the narratives that Kayan weaves, objects we are familiar with Kayan’s previous solo exhibition in Berlin one one two one two three, create another vague point of contact between Kayan and her grandmother. The hands that are carrying traces of the ropes, which greet us immediately after we step into the exhibition, offer a poetic point of view at the intersection of reality and perception. For Henri Bergson, what constitutes the main problem is the misconception that a sequence in a certain pattern creates movement. Kayan seems to explore this constant state of misconception between moving and standing still by pulling the rope attached to an almost invisible chair. This action could also be interpreted through the lens of Edmund Husserl, who suggests that our perceptions may mislead us because we inherently lack complete knowledge of objects.

Zeynep Kayan, second time with the chair, Installation View Photo credit: Kayhan Kaygusuz

 The manipulated photographic prints bring another layer of performativity into Kayan’s performances which we witness through projections. Kayan solidifies the possibilities of movement through prints by re-building the rhythms of the moments. In film strips, albeit appearing completely motionless, every scene requires the movement of another to exist. The f ilm-length time with its sections only emerges with the revival of the images as a whole. This time that operates in a certain flow and constitutes movement should still not lead to the misconception that sequence in a certain pattern constitutes movement. Kayan underlines this concept using deconstruction of sound and movement, as in her words, she is “interested in the desire to repeat and repeat to desire, in exhaustion, in how things alter daily and separate gradually, in the dance that goes nowhere, in concentration and uninterrupted contradiction.”

Zeynep Kayan, second time with the chair, Installation View Photo credit: Kayhan Kaygusuz

 As Gilles Deleuze suggests in his book Difference and Repetition, Kayan approaches the notion of repetition just as the rhythmic reiteration of water dripping. Second time with the chair, in which we witness the repeated fragmentation of images through continuous movement, puts an end to our successive movements by reducing movement to immobility. The fact that the concept of movement that Kayan focuses on indirectly includes duration, reminds us again of Bergson's thoughts, which distinguish between spatial time and duration. Bergson argues that duration constitutes what is real, yet spatial time exists as a product of design, thus becoming an artificial reality. Duration is the notion of time that cannot be reduced to a mere transition between states; it fulfills its purpose independently across sections. Building upon this concept, Bergson explores the amalgamation of static sections through an individual's perceptions, which he refers to as the "cinematographic illusion." In Kayan’s works, the rope has an indirect relationship with reality, embodying the whole possibility of a single moment. When she pulls the ropes, mediating the release of a tingling sound through vibration, she holds all the possibilities tightly in her hands while considering the possibility that the other end of the rope is not tied to the chair, thus turning into the rope itself. Analyzing all the possibilities of the image organized in a sequential manner, Kayan continues her inquiry through visual narratives, transcending the confines of the image plane. The visibility of the image is evaluated on the condition that it moves. Therefore, when we examine Kayan's productions in the light of Bergson's thought, it becomes impossible to evaluate the movement in a way that is disconnected from the image.

Zeynep Kayan, second time with the chair: rehearsal II, Matte fibre print , 46x83,5 cm, 2023

On the axis between lost time to caught time in the words of Proust, Kayan constructs the reality in which we oscillate between knowledge and truth with the structure of an alternative narrative. The works interrupt the examination of the past and future through the ever-present moment by exploring the representation between the world that forms our perceptions and our subjective comprehensions. Second time with the chair enables us to transcend any empirical time, and witness the transformation of our current memories by reminding us repeatedly of the limitless possibilities of those moments, hinting at a desire to escape the present moment, coupled with a longing to capture them.


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