Call me Venus by Ceylan Öztürk
The exhibition Call me Venus will be at Mars from February 12 to March 26, 2016. Call me Venus aims to banalize the male interpretation and discourse on the female body; as the Venus figurines become objects of pleasure, the woman’s being able to please herself with the ‘image of a woman’ is emphasized.
Discourses about the woman’s body have always been based on masculinity. While in an ideal world, history exists for people to get to know themselves, actually it is written to shift a specific flow or to enable a flow and thus became a tool of the structures of power. Then, how does the male narrative of history define women? Is it a coincidence that the woman’s body was only interpreted through “fertility” and “motherhood”? If history is an ideological device, then historians and archeologists, who interpret the past with their practice of transforming historic notions into knowledge, remain as parts of the system and are threatened by becoming appropriated by the knowledge directly produced by ideology.
The Venus statuettes are re-interpreted by Ceylan Öztürk in the exhibition, Call me Venus, and are re-produced. With an attitude that separates the woman’s body from patriarchy, a new space is created. The Venuses are charged with a new interpretation, liberated from the realm of the patriarchy, becoming objects of pleasure for women. ‘The woman’s image’ thus becomes her own domain and returns to her own private world.
For a nude female figure from 25000-5000 BC to be related to fertility, without any records, documents to point in any direction, and for this interpretation to be taken as a fact is evidence to the maleness of the writing of history. The woman’s body being glorified in this narrative as “fertile” and “maternal” affect the woman’s perception of her own body as well as her place in society.
By transforming the image of the woman’s body into an object of pleasure that is liberated from patriarchy, Call me Venus says to the woman: “What appears to be distant is actually your private.” This also produces a construct in which what is removed from the person is actually an image of the person themselves.
The space constructed at Mars is fictional: Ceylan reproduces the practice of exhibiting the woman’s body behind a glass case, with removing the glass case.
The exhibition is spread throughout the space with an installation which consists of multiple pieces. There are also video documents of two interventions/performances on display: The Venus of Willendorf (Vienna, Natural History Museum, 2014) and Venus in Beşiktaş (Istanbul, Beşiktaş Market).
The exhibition presents the culmination of two years of research during which the artist looked at the writing of history and being a woman through the specific lens of the Venus statuettes.
Ceylan Öztürk, (b.1984, Ankara) opens up accepted forms of knowledge and focuses on questions rather than answers. In doing this, she copies various vocations and social situations and sometimes compares different bits of information and setups. She employs interventions in her practice as a methodology with which she tries to transform existing situations and frameworks. She aims to break the flow of information in the mainstream, offering to setup new channels that co-exist with and sometimes replace the existing ones. She received her undergraduate (2006) and graduate (2011) degrees from the Fine Arts Faculty at Anadolu University. Since 2012, she has been working towards her PhD in Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University and currently working there as a researcher. Her recent solo exhibitions include: History in Lowercase (AlanIstanbul, 2015), Re-treating; the Artist, the Space (Museum of Ideas, Lviv, UA, 2013), I Saw (Daire, 2012) and Vision of Expression (Daire, 2011).