Nilbar Güreş

Published in catalog Arrivi e Partenze_Mediterrano, GIUDA edizioni (2012)

Unknown sports are the ones practised by women to survive the daily erosion of possibilities, the infinite obstacles that a deeply male chauvinist society has produced over the millennia. 

The ironic and at times comic verve is vivid and unequivocal. For modern Goddesses Kali of the thousand arms, a fitness workout is not understood as the process of mortifying the body to which many submit in order to approach ideal models of plasticized femininity: rather it is the Olympic ability to conjugate identities, expectations, commitments and roles day after day. Unknown Sports, like many other works by this Turkish artist, needs no special subtitles. It speaks an iconic language that is immediate, although stylistically beyond criticism. Public exhibition, accentuated theatricality, soap opera excess (it’s the same story ladies, but told by more protagonists) creates a tableau vivant in which everyday femininity is posing, real and tangible. The unknown space evoked in the title, and which becomes public, extended, surreal, is the stone guest which takes the role of ripped away drape that inevitably displays something normally intended to be concealed behind the curtain. 

We should not be deceived by Güreş’ versatility in employing photography, drawing, video and collage. The point of view is focalised, concentrated, and the poetics coherent. The propulsive centre of her multiform work – which has taken her in a short time to a qualitatively significant presence at international level – is the deconstruction of commonplaces, of stereotypes and of the codified maps that define political, cultural and gender-related identities. From her performance interventions, in which she takes direct actions, to her drawing, the vulnerability of social masks is the imaginary centre of this artist’s research. Through “the grammar of irony and of involuntary comicality,” writes Başak Şenova, she underscores “the brutality of life.” In this scrutinizing from a wilfully narrow keyhole there is neither moralism nor preconception. Rather a tragic farce in which it is always possible to fall into the whirlpool of the comic, understood in the Pirandello sense as “awareness of the contrary”, which is to say as contrast between appearance and reality. The appearance and the embalmed codification transmitted to us of the female image in the world of Islamic and in particular Turkish tradition, is completely overturned here, making us part of a femininity which belongs to us inasmuch as we are women who are revealed in their shared condition of subordination, but at the same time of Olympic athletes of destiny. 

Born in Istanbul / Turkey in 1977

Lives and works in NY, Vienna and İstanbul

Selected solo exhibitions (last 3 years) 

2011 Zwölf im Zwölften, Tanas, Berlin / Germany

Self-Defloration, Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, Stuttgart / Germany

Nilbar Güreş, Rampa, İstanbul / Turkey

EIKON SchAUfenster: Nilbar Güreş - Undressing, Museumsplatz 1, Vienna / Austria

2010 Nilbar Güreş: Window Commision 2010, Rivington Place, London / UK

2009 Unknown Sports, Indoor Exercises, Salzburger Kunstverein, Salzburg / Austria

Selected group exhibitions  (last 3 years) 

2012 Desiring the Real, MOCAB Museum Of Contemporary Art Belgrad, Belgrad / Serbia 

Wie zusammen leben? Salzburger Kunstverein, Salzburg / Austria

Der Mensch der Fluß Malerei der Donauländer, National Gallery Sofia, Sofia / Bulgaria

İstanbul Modern – Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans, Rotterdam / Netherland, Zwölf im Zwölften - Tanas, Berlin / Germany, Galerie Martin Janda, Vienna / Austria

2011 Dream and Reality - Modern and Contemporary Women Artists from Turkey, Museum Istanbul

Modern, İstanbul / Turkey

Responding to the New Moon, Galerie Tanja Wagner, Berlin / Germany

1st International Photo Festival, Bursa / Turkey

Tolerabilis, Toskanische Säulenhalle im Zeughaus, Augsburg / Germany

Der Mensch der Fluss, Donauschwäbisch Central Museum Ulm / Germany

The Daily Uprising, < rotor > association for contemporary art, Graz / Austria

Austria Davaj!, Schusev State Museum of Architecture, Moscow / Russia

Tactics of Invisibility, ARTER, İstanbul / Turkey

2010 Ex-Territory, Tel Aviv / Israel

Tactics of Invisibility, TANAS, Berlin / Germany

Where do we go from here?, Secession Vienna, Vienna / Austria

6th Berlin Biennale, Berlin / Germany

Curated by, Galerie Ernst Hilger, Vienna / Austria

Starter, Arter, İstanbul / Turkey

On Paper, Stalke Gallery, Kirke Sonnerup / Denmark

Not a Lens But a Prisma, Eugenio de Almeida Foundation, Evora / Portugal

The Others, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea della Sicilia

Derriére le rideau, une génération hors d’elle …, Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris / France

Tactics of Invisibility, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna / Austria, Ankara-Vienna, Gallery Nev, Ankara / Turkey |