Monday, June 23, 2014

A Turkish artist 'Through the Looking Glass'

Initially ignored and dismissed for her experimental approach, Füsun Onur has become recognised as one of Turkey’s most influential contemporary artists by steadfastly continuing to follow her own path. She has described her art as "musical work without sound," explaining, "I am taking everyday objects and using them as notes."

Born in 1938, Onur got her undergraduate degree at what is now the Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts in Istanbul, where she studied with Ali Hadi Bara. The Iranian-born sculptor was influential in moving Turkish sculpture away from official monuments and into more abstract realms.

Onur made her own mark by pioneering installation art that pushes the boundaries of both sculpture and painting, incorporating everyday objects and aspects of daily life but taking them out of their normal context in a way that prompts the viewer to reassess the meanings typically attributed to them..
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Read the rest of my preview of "Füsun Onur: Through the Looking Glass" in the Summer 2014 issue of Selections magazine's Art Paper supplement: "Making Meaning from the Mundane" (pdf)

This Emre Baykal-curated retrospective is being exhibited at Istanbul's ARTER until August 17. Don't miss the complementary video piece downstairs by artist Ali Kazma, who further illuminates Onur's artistic influences with his evocative footage shot in her Istanbul home.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The human cost of Turkey’s building boom

High above the street, construction workers scale rickety scaffolding without helmets or harnesses. Near the sidewalk, a man welds a piece of metal, his face bare as sparks shoot all around. These are common sights in Turkey, where worker safety often seems to be an afterthought.

The horrific death of at least 301 workers in the Soma coal mine disaster last month has put the spotlight on Turkey’s dangerous, under-regulated mining industry, but the construction industry that has fueled the country’s recent economic growth and boosted its global profile is rife with dangers too: One-third of all work accidents reported in Turkey come from the building sector, more than any other industry.

With the deaths in Soma still weighing heavily on my mind, I looked into the safety risks faced by construction workers in Turkey for the Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS), and filed this report: "Turkey's Building Boom Takes Toll on Worker Safety."