Deutsche Version unten

14 May – 28 May 2024

Ilknur Demirkoparan | Necessary Retrieve

@ DIENSTGEBÄUDE, Töpferstrasse 26, 8045 Zürich
Opening: Tuesday, 14 May 2024, 6 pm

Solo Exhibition by Ilknur Demirkoparan
Curated by Elif Carrier

Artist Talk: 14 May 2024, 6.30 pm
Guided Tour with Artist: 17 May 2024, 7.30 pm
Open House: 17 May, 6–9 pm / 18 May , 2–6 pm / 24 May, 6–9 pm / 25 May, 2–6 pm
All other dates by appointment only, please email elif.carrier@zhdk.ch

OnCurating Project Space @ DIENSTGEBÄUDE
Töpferstrasse 26, Zürich 8045

Ilknur Demirkoparan, Are We There Yet featuring The Grand Turk at Highways Performance Space and Gallery. Los Angeles, 2017


It all started with two Turks conversing in Turklish a hybrid of Turkish and English, about their personal narratives on living on other terrains. Were they good Turks or bad Turks? What unconscious or conscious biases they were put under from political, religious and gender perspectives regardless of who they were individually on these new territories?

In their land, it was jokingly said in vernacular that “the place you are born is your destiny” carrying nuances of Arabesque which connected the artist curator duo even further. After a while, these talks funneled into Demirkoparan’s early years in the US when she adopted her new country at the age of 10. Has life for her been like the movie “Not Without My Daughter”?  Has she watched “Lawrence of Arabia” and was she aware of the of the prison conditions in Turkey? Puzzled by such questions from grownups, Demirkoparan found ease with her own age group where the most essential question was if pizza or hamburger was her favorite food.

Demirkoparan was compelling in following her own path into becoming the artist and the thinker she is today and channeled the lingering western gaze and the imposed interpretations of her identity into her artistic work. Eventually, she would expand herself beyond the retrieved western gaze and its’ narrated conclusions by cofounding MinEastry of Postcollapse Art and Culture; an art and research space for critical discourse and exploration of the global contemporary from an eastward out vantage.

Ilknur Demirkoparan, Turkish Delight in Three Takes, 2024


The exhibition Necessary Retrieve is a prelude connecting Ilknur Demirkoparan’s early works into her most recent works. As well as it involves new works that she created specifically for this exhibition.

In her work titled Sometimes Mr. Metzel, A Candy Is Just A Candy (2008), Demirkoparan responds to German artist Olaf Metzel’s large sculpture of a nude woman titled Turkish Delight  after it was exhibited in Kunsthalle Wien in 2007. The irregular cubic body of Demirkoparan’s version of a Turkish Delight purposefully rejects the attempt to provide an alternative representation of Turkish women.

Are We There Yet? (2016) is a performance created by Demirkoparan and exhibited as video and photo series. In her performance, after meticulous technical research, Demirkoparan transformed herself into a holographic AI entity named The Grand Turk, modeling Wolfgang Von Kempelen’s Mechanical Turk, a chess-playing automaton unveiled in 1770, at the height of Orientalism, and symbolized colonial Europe’s technological triumph.

The series titled Hair Is A Woman’s Glory (2018) takes a striking look into the  contemporary attitudes and religious taboos communicated through the censorship of women’s hair by Demirkoparan.  In each frame, her self-portraits are centered around a halo of calligraphic text that meticulously repeats the Turkish word for hair, “saç”. These series later mark  themselves on Demirkoparan`s creative process as a departure from conceptual into the arrival of the next series of minimalistic works titled I want to Live Forever which she draws inspiration from the abstract language of Turkish kilims (rugs). Traditionally, practiced by women, each motif on a kilim represents an idea and when woven in combination with other motifs and colors, they evoke narratives of lives lived.

Combined with the newly commissioned most recent works that will be exhibited for the first time at OnCurating Project Space, the exhibition Necessary Retrieve is a statement by Demirkoparan showcasing her artistic evolution in exposing the retrieved western gaze beyond patriarchy and colonialism.

Ilknur Demirkoparan, Hair is a Womans Glory, 2018


Ilknur Demirkoparan is a Turkish-born American artist whose interdisciplinary practice spans painting, sculpture, installation, performance, and digital media. While her earlier work explores the bizarre and often baffling narratives of identity and otherness, her more recent practice explores Turkic material culture. Demirkoparan’s work has been included in the Berlin Biennial Art Wiki Project, Highways Performance Space and Gallery in Los Angeles, FAR Bazaar, Mark Borghi Fine Art, NY. Her writing appears in ASAP/j, FLAT Magazine, Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture. She has an MFA from California Institute of the Arts, and a BA from University of California, Riverside. Her awards include the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Max H. Gluck Foundation fellowships, and the Regional Arts and Culture Council grant. Demirkoparan is the cofounder of the MinEastry of Postcollapse Art and Culture. She lives and works in Zurich, Switzerland. More information on Demirkoparans work can be found here; https://ilknur.studio/ and https://postcollapse.art/

Elif Carrier is a researcher, curator and consultant. Her work focuses on facilitating artistic productions that challenge the historical trajectory and how we act in the contemporary world, in line with her interest in use of art within society responding to current urgencies from decentralized positions. She is a graduate of CAS Curating program from Zurich University of Applied Arts (ZHdK). She holds a BA in Business Administration and Management from Oxford Brookes University, and an MBA from Johnson and Wales University.