Press Release - Underbelly
25/02/2023 - 05/05/2023
Zilberman is pleased to announce İz Öztat’s solo exhibition titled Underbelly which opens at the gallery’s main space located at the Mısır Apartment in Beyoğlu between February 25 - May 5, 2023. Underbelly brings together a selection of works produced by the artist within the past ten years alongside an (auto)biographical narrative.
Since 2010, İz Öztat has been engaged in an untimely collaboration with Zişan (1894-1970), who appears to the artist as a historical figure, a ghost and an alter ego. In their collaboration, they address official histories, artist myths, as well as the myriad dynamics that inform art historical canons. As part of this ongoing body of work titled Every name in history is I and I is other, Öztat embraces the power of fiction to temper life, employing methodologies that propose multiple selves, contradicting and fragmented narratives. The exhibition reveals the (auto)biographical layers that inform the creation of two chapters; Boo Boo, which focuses on the love affair between Zişan and Vita that transpired in Istanbul in 1913, and Dead Reckoning to Her Folds, which revolves around sculptures to propose a narrative on queer desire and immigration.
In Danube as Biography: Reduced and Simplified, Öztat departs from a historical depiction of the Danube on a military map and references Zişan’s journey along the river in 1915, as she fled from Istanbul to Berlin. The ruptured flow of the red line that spans the gallery walls, is accompanied by a text titled Would You Miss Me If I Disappeared? which chronicles the friendship and love between two women. The work touches the complex connections that lie at the underbelly of artistic process and mother-daughter relationships.
The chapter titled Dead Reckoning to Her Folds correlates the struggle of making way in the absence of guiding and anchoring reference points to the experiences of artistic production, falling in love as well as immigration. In these works, Öztat locates sculpture as an object of queer desire and problematizes the figurative and normative depictions of the female body. The artist works with feelings of desire, loss, and longing by upholding a stark tension between the horizontal forms she has created using soft, permeable, and loose materials and the vertical forms comprised of rigid elements.
Underbelly addresses the boundaries between the public and the private. The exhibition highlights the fictional and conventional aspects of the narratives that construct “the artist” figure by posing questions about the formative effect artists’ (auto)biographies have on the manner in which their work is experienced, interpreted, and canonized.
In her collective and individual artistic practice spanning diverse media defined by her research, İz Öztat explores the persistence of violent histories through forms, materials, space and language. She responds to absences in official historiography through spectral, intergenerational and speculative fictions. İz Öztat fabricates the (auto)biography of Zişan (1894-1970), who appears to her as a historical figure, a ghost, and an alter ego. She takes on Zişan’s archives and interprets them through her practice to construct a complex temporality of action that enables the suppressed past to intervene in the increasingly authoritarian present. The values and methodologies driving her practice have been articulated in relation to struggles against the taming of running waters for profit and progress, queer desire, and consensual negotiation of power.
Selected exhibitions include I am Nobody. Are You Nobody Too?, Meşher, Istanbul (2022); The Colony, Schwules Museum, Berlin (2018); Tamawuj, Sharjah Biennial 13 (2017); Land without Land, Heidelberger Kunstverein, (2016); Salt Water: A Theory on Thought Forms, 14th Istanbul Biennial (2015); Second Exhibition, Arter, Istanbul (2010). Her academic articles, essays and fictional texts have been published in various media. Öztat participated in artist residency programs in Amman, Berlin, London, Istanbul, Madrid, Mexico City, Oslo, Paris, and Yerevan. İz Öztat lives and works in Istanbul and Berlin.
- İz Öztat