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MODEST LANDSCAPE

Deniz Erbaţ, March 2010, Ýstanbul

Modest Landscape is Neriman Polat’s third solo exhibition. The most distinctive quality of her solo exhibitions is her will to make the gallery space invisible and create a sensual/dramatic perception of time and space specific to the exhibition or the work itself through installations/interventions in and on the space. In her “Photo-Grave” exhibition at the Apartment Project, she painted the room green and placed her photos that remind of death and the feelings it gives rise to in that space. In her “Father’s Home Apt.” exhibition, severing us from the feeling of being inside a gallery, she invited us into the realm of unmediated reality through her mosaic mural work “Father’s Home Apt.” and the basement floor photos she placed on the ground level; hence erasing the visibility of the exhibition space at first sight. In her current exhibition “Modest Landscape”, she narrates the last four years she has spent in the Aegean and recreates the landscapes and scenes that have caught her eye in a dramatic, poetic and yet ironic atmosphere.

The modest landscape Polat defines refers to nothing other than a usual or even ordinary state of being “in nature”; it is definitely not a city center but we don’t have a clue whether it is a village or a town or just a distant, reclusive piece of nature. The same goes for the people that dominate, look upon and shape that landscape. Still we cannot say that it is abandoned; doors, furnitures, well lids, instruments and a burning candle prove the existence of people and their everyday life there. And these proofs bring us to the most crucial point of the exhibition itself...

Actions of Gathering and Making Do...

A life where water is drawn from a well, where no electricity exists, where the only connection with civilization is maintained through a radio running on batteries is going on simultaneously with our urban life –only a couple hundred kilometres away. This has got nothing to do with nostalgia; rather a more fundamental feeling about the order of things. When an urban dweller looks upon the “design” concept that prevails over this landscape with his/her perception overlaid with the codes of current consumer culture that markets design as a way of aesthetic appreciation, a way of life and a symbol of identity and belonging, he/she will inevitable feel alienated. Though it might seem patchy, provisional, formless, unaesthetic and meaningless, the design concept we see here feeds directly from most basic needs; it is practical, economic and functional. The guiding principles are making do with what’s available, inventing and most importantly adapting. The blue cases piled up on one another and the plastic dispenser size bottle fitted out with hooks, all have a purpose, a function before all else.

Today, how does a city dweller adapt to a world untouched by the rule of consumer culture? What reference point does he/she have left when all the channels that feed the learned notions like beauty and harmony and the feeling of aesthetic pleasure pumped up by the current world order based on consumerism are shut down? Neriman Polat’s frames that capture ordinary, quiet scenes and landscapes under natural light and without any intervention whatsoever document the moments when we reflect on such questions. Questions about whether an alternative life form is possible and about what might be the alternative to being part of this system here and now are questions that well deserve to be asked and sought for over and over again. Neriman Polat poses these questions once again and seeks answers in a direct and simple manner.


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