Artist Nilbar Güreş (born 1977 in Istanbul, Turkey), who grew up in Turkey, addresses the personal and societal constraints generated by heteronormativity. In a sculpture developed especially for mixed up with others before we even begin, a kind of Tree of Knowledge, she parades the category of gender and the binarity of woman versus man as something that is constantly undergoing (violent) change. It is a category that can be described as being “imitated, transplanted, digitized, copied, modified, falsified, fabricated, and swapped,” among other operations—making it anything but a fixed quantity. Güreş frequently highlights in her work just how central the question of gender relations and sexual orientation really is by describing it as a “subversive dramaturgy.” The Tree of Knowledge, for example, which she has titled Mayzu (2022), is a colorful hippie fantasy whose fruit visitors are not only allowed to but are encouraged to taste in order to become more aware of their own sexuality. It is composed of leaves with folkloric fabrics and patterns from Vienna, Istanbul, and São Paulo, along with objects originating from the BDSM scene, bisexual bonobos, and forbidden fruits such as coconuts and bananas. Visitors are invited to take selfies in humorous settings and thereby infiltrate their image networks with the message that upholding gender boundaries has become obsolete.
Güreş has furthermore chosen for her installation works from the mumok collection by Alexander Rodchenko, Lois Weinberger, and Karl Wirsum that address nature and the body in unusual ways. Weinberger’s photographs show ruderal plants growing at the neglected margins of urban development. The special nature of these mostly nutrient-poor, man-made places creates a habitat for resilient vegetation zones that usually escape our attention. In Alexander Rodchenko’s dramatic photograph, a massive pine tree towers up into the sky. Rodchenko photographed nature as if it were a technical apparatus. His image lends the tree the drama of a huge factory chimney—and shows how artistic expression can open up the world to ambiguous interpretation. Many different meanings can likewise be read into Karl Wirsum’s sculpture in the form of a gender-neutral doll. Although it may seem like just a harmless toy, it simultaneously conjures up a post-human age of robot technology.
The exhibition mixed up with others before we even begin is still on view until April 10.