Pressemitteilung - A Highlight of 'Sûr'

25/02/2023 - 05/05/2023

Zilberman Projects | Istanbul is pleased to announce the opening of A Highlight of Sûr which will be on view between the dates February 25 - May 5, 2023, in Istanbul. The exhibition presents a section of Fatoş Irwen’s solo exhibition Sûr that is on view at Zilberman | Berlin between February 16 - April 15, 2023.

For her exhibition, Sûr, Fatoş İrwen chose the soil, the earth of her homeland, Diyarbakır, as a theme. This land, the earth of Diyarbakır, where the largest Kurdish majority in Turkey lives, holds not only past and current political histories with its people, its beliefs, and its casualties, but also the memory of Mesopotamian civilizations. According to Islamic belief, Sûr is the instrument (trumpet) that the angel Isrâfil will blow to announce the arrival of the Day of Judgment. One could say that Sûr processes death and life together and captures the equation of Death and Resurrection across time. In Kurdish, sûr means border/wall/façade or it can refer to pointing out, calling, or making a sound, while it sounds the same as Sur, a district of Diyarbakır. This exhibition will bring all these meanings together into common ground. To realise this exhibition, the artist visited fields, graveyards, lush gardens, barren lands, and mountainsides in her region; got close to the earth, and merged with its soil. This is the earth that the people of Diyarbakır have been living on, buried in, walked through, and nourished by. 

In the Hevsel series, Irwen depicts Hevsel Gardens through its reflections on the river Tigris. The landscape is illustrated through its shadows that are visible in the movement of the ink dispersing in the water and spreading on the pages, with reflections hitting the river's shore. There is a flip side to this beautiful and fertile land; it has been subject to significant violence. Even if it was a place to which many poems were dedicated, it’s shadows can be dark and sinister. 

In the video titled Siryan, Irwen deforms her hand by sewing and piercing. By rendering her fingerprint unreadable, which is an important element of recognition by the state, she manifests the uncertainty that comes along with her body against the identity politics of the government. In the face of many laws, weapons, and impositions, the artist uses her body as a means of resistance. She breaks the codes of the body by carrying her childhood game of sewing the skin of his hand to her adult body by repeating the same action.

The prominent issues in this exhibition such as the body, self-defense, and the resistance movement of women, just like Şiryan inspire the work titled Rosa. This work, which identifies with the hedgehogs of Hevsel Gardens, is embodied in a pink children's dress. The contrast created by the softness of pink and the hard spines of the hedgehog reveals the feminine elements of resistance. 

İrwen’s work is loaded with her personal history to spin a narrative against masculinity, feudalism, and the power of the state. The artist was taken into custody in Diyarbakır in 2017. She was sentenced to prison without any evidence, on the testimony of a secret witness, and spent three years inside. During this time she produced many works, accepting the challenges and her new environment as limitations.

The ground represented in Sûr contains pieces of our contemporary border politics that the artist is trying to excavate and expose. The female perspective cannot be overlooked: the artist puts it forward, bringing the power of historical myths back to mother earth. She’s reaching for something through digging and scraping. If it was possible, Fatoş İrwen would dig down all the seven levels of Earth to raise awareness and understanding for her land.

Fatoş Irwen was born and raised in the historical Sûr neighborhood in Diyarbakır, Turkey. She studied Fine Arts at Dicle University in Diyarbakır and taught at secondary schools in Batman, Diyarbakır, and Istanbul. Her solo show entitled Exceptional Times (curators: Ezgi Bakçay and Wenda Koyuncu) took place simultaneously in Karşı Sanat and DEPO Istanbul in 2021. Her selected group shows include: Of Paper (curator: Selin Akın, Ferda Art Platform, Istanbul, 2021); Art in Dark Times (organized by bi’bak, Haus der Statistik, Berlin, Germany, 2020); Heritage / Matrimonio (curator: Gudrun Wallenböck, Gallery Enrique Guerrero, Mexico City, Mexico, 2019); Not What You Think! (Hinterland Galerie, Vienna, Austria, 2018); Post-Peace (curator: Katia Krupennikova, Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, Germany, 2017). Fatoş Irwen lives and works in Istanbul and Diyarbakır.

Please contact T. Melis Golar at for further information on the show.

Artist Pages
  - Fatoş İrwen