Sun 19 Nov 2023 to Sat 24 Feb 2024
Preview: Saturday 18 November, 7pm-9pm. RSVP
Gazelli Art House, Baku, presents A State Of Acceptance, a joint exhibition by Kalliopi Lemos and Nancy Atakan, curated by Billur Tansel.
Surveying both artists’ individual creative journeys, alongside collaborative works, A State Of Acceptance debuts never before seen artworks. Lemos’ bold and striking animated video Wasps and Jewels (2023) features the artist’s first twelve unique NFTs. While Atakan’s Searching for The Scent of Time (2023) delivers an immersive projection and sound installation.
In textile works such as We Are All Sisters (2021) and Don’t Step on Me! (2021), Atakan explores the role of women in society, and the recognition of female voices within the patriarchy. In I Am Home (2019), Lemos combines fabric, steel, and photography with an antique Bessarabian rug (a precious family heirloom passed on for generations) to illustrate women as carriers of family history. Wasps are a recurring motif in Lemos’ artwork, seemingly symbolic of the simultaneous beauty and “stinging offences to women” in Atakan’s Her Yerde (Everywhere) (2020). For both artists, nature gives solace and solutions: while championing sustainable practices in their reinvention of materials, both artists reference the transience and permanence of life-cycles – seen in Lemos’ Fleeting and Timeless (2023) and Atakan’s Cliché 2 (2020).
One of the centrepieces of the exhibition, a film of a performance the artists have realised together entitled Necklace of Time (2020), stresses the superficiality of the materialistic adornment that might be desired in youth and underlines that, as one matures, inherited values, principles, ethics and memories gain more importance. Sharing in their acquired and inherited wisdom by referencing individual experiences, Atakan and Lemos grapple with the concerns and actualities of life. Juxtaposing moments of treasured memories with an unnerving awareness of the rapidly changing world, this dual insight finds loci in 13th Century poem, The Guest House.
Written by Persian Poet Rumi, The Guest House stands as an analogy for human beings, where we become spaces for ephemeral states to occupy. According to the poem, every day we receive unexpected visitors – joy, depression, meanness – and with each, an awareness. The poem implores us to be grateful for whatever comes because it has been sent for a reason/ as a guide from beyond. Acceptance encompasses undergoing hardships, rebellion and change through life and meeting adversities with courage, respect and warmth, taking a moment to listen, to breath, to re-evaluate. As one gets older the understanding that accepting things as they are softens worries and appeases concerns in our minds. A new space may open for new ideas and new ways. With a state of acceptance, human suffering diminishes or ceases.
The case of recognising human experience has long been debated, from Ancient Eastern and Western philosophy – Aurelius and Epictetus – to modern thinkers such as Kierkegaard. Psychologists suggest an amelioration for the human condition and suffering; existential theorists such as Carl Rogers are credited with elaborating acceptance as a mechanism of self-actualization. In this exhibition, the notion and value of accepting oneself and others has been given great importance.
Realising memories to be valuable when facing the challenges in their chaotic present, Atakan and Lemos strive for a state of acceptance. In sharing recollections from their personal lives, moments sacred and dear, the artists hope to encourage dialogue and interaction with younger generations.
The two artists are gifted story-tellers who combine words, images, and diverse materials to create an otherworldly and yet bonding experience. Some artworks have a story to tell, a piece of family history that brings together different generations’ lives, loves, and experiences in tales of wisdom, while others point out the thorns and stings plaguing present reality. These might appear as challenges at first, but if we receive them with wisdom, that might be our chance to reach a sense of truth and peace within.
“As women and artists, we wanted to give a voice to the unexplored experiences and feelings of women, shared with love, poetry and beauty to create a rich, multidimensional exhibition.” - Nancy Atakan and Kalliopi Lemos.