The Hunziker Areal is situated in the northeast of Zurich, a conglomeration of cooperative housing, home to fresh-faced families looking for affordable homes. It is here that Longtang, self-described «cultural incubator» and artist-run exhibition space, stakes its claim. It is here that Ceylan Öztrük has worked in a studio for the last year, upon invitation by the Longtang team. The exhibition on view is the final installment of Öztrük’s residency, and offers insight into the themes and motifs the artist has been thinking about these last months.
Questions of production and reproduction are at the fore, encapsulated by the image of the mollusk making a pearl; the most common form of alchemy, turning debris into value. Öztrük has written a slim volume, titled Mollusk Solidarity, that tells the story of two women meeting, here, at Longtang – or what the book calls «the observatory». One is an artist who has been invited to use the observatory to produce new work, the other a neighbor, whose time is spent caring for her family. The text offers both a backdrop and a commentary on the exhibition itself. In writing Öztrük allows herself to spell out the ideas her sculptural works allude to. For the exhibition, Longtang’s floors have been painted in pastel pink industrial lacquer, precisely color-coded NCS S 0530-Y80R (Google it!), a sculptural work in its own right that stretches across all of the exhibition space. Buttermilk whitewashed windows filter the light from the outside, underscoring an atmosphere that can best be described as pleasant. An assortment of pearl sculptures have been placed on the ground and low plexiglass pedestals. The precious materiality of the glazed ceramics and smooth moulded plastic sheets drives home the point of it all. Yes, we have stepped into a mollusk, and are looking at its principal attraction. «We must re-write the metaphors,» Öztrük notes, repeatedly. It is an interesting choice, then, for the artist to start literally creating pearls. The aptness of the image of the pearl-producing mollusk is its weakness as well. In the end, how far does this equation (the artist produces art works = a mollusk produces pearls) carry? Öztrük’s writing does a better job of pushing the boundaries of the simple equation by introducing further themes such as care economy, sexual independence and a plurality of personhood. It is fitting therefore, that the text is made visible in the exhibition as well, first as text on a screen, with floating sentences appearing and disappearing, and then in the physical form of the slim volume, a dozen or so copies of which are set on the ground in the second space and stake out a sculptural and well-deserved presence for this writing.
Ceylan Öztrük: am a mollusk, too; re/producing tangents, Longtang, Zürich Oerlikon
28. June – 16. August 2020
Images: Ceylan Öztrük: am a mollusk, too; re/producing tangents, Longtang, photographs: Flavio Karrer
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