14 September – 28 October 2018
Light is everywhere; it surrounds us. But how can we see light if we cannot see without light? A poetic and philosophical approach to an omnipresent phenomenon is central to Sefer Memişoğlu’s solo exhibition curated by Sanneke Huisman at Depo İstanbul, after its first presentation at Bradwolff Projects in Amsterdam.
The title of the exhibition is derived from the essay of the same name by Italo Calvino; in The Eye’s Ray, the Italian writer and journalist describes the eye as the basis of the human brain and therefore of human thinking and acting. Calvino goes back to the origin of scientific thinking about the eye, which is remarkably inventive. Early scientists claimed that the act of seeing was performed by luminous arrows coming from the brain; they described light as a spiritual force that actively illuminated the outside world.
Using these and other possible interpretations as a starting point, Memişoğlu presents an overview of his work on this subject matter over the last few years. Calvino’s visual analysis of sight and light is reminiscent of cinema and photography techniques, allowing light rays to create a print or an illuminated illusion in time. Black and white photography and cinema are preceded by paintings full of light-dark contrast, chiaroscuro, or rock paintings created by firelight. In line with Memişoğlu’s fascination with art history, the myth of Prometheus is also an important source of inspiration for his work. This Titan from Greek mythology descended into a darkened world to bring fire to humanity. Prometheus taught man how to make steel, thus making it possible for civilization to be born. However, fire also brought the possibility of destruction. The resulting civilization that was created from this was also immediately endangered. Where there is light there is darkness too.
The works in The Eye’s Ray hark back to these great stories, but at the same time create a new visual language. Within works in a variety of mediums, ranging from video to drawing and sculpture, light returns as a leading theme. The works in this exhibition appear as expressive and mysterious fragments from an unknown story. It is up to the viewer to let the light shine.
Sefer Memişoğlu (1977) works between photography, sound, film and drawing. The physical act of drawing, filming or photographing is of great importance in his practice. Body, medium and concept reveal a reality that would otherwise remain invisible. He lives and works in Amsterdam.
Sanneke Huisman (1985) studied art history and works as a critic and curator. The layered method and the (art) historical consciousness in Memişoğlu’s work speak to her. She lives and works in Amsterdam.