December 10, 2023

By Heidi Trautmann….

AFTER THAT CITY…. Maraş and its Ghosts – An Exhibition by Aliye Gündoğdu at the Atatürk Cultural Centre 22 – 29 Sep 2023

I think we all have been touched in one way or another when visiting Maraş after its opening, after the wires were removed that had held human life outside for so many years. Encountering the past of people and the ruins that once were their homes in shocking images is proof that time cannot wash away facts and memories. That is what the artist Aliye Gündoğdu experienced when she summoned up the courage to visit Maraş last year. The impressions haunted her and she had to give them a form, bring out the nightmarish experiences onto paper and canvas.

I have read much about the reactions to the opening of Maraş, I have seen the very moving play KAPALI/CLOSED by Aliye Ummanel….

But I have not seen an art exhibition that brings to daylight the feelings of shock and sadness so well as the present one. The feelings of a great Void not only by seeing the wounds that humanity and finally time have inflicted but risen through the images of family having lived there and having had to leave home, feelings of being lost.

The material Aliye Gündoğdu has used as basic for her stories of encountering the Maraş phenomenon, is ‘waste’… waste paper, cartons and canvas, waste she found in waste depots, torn paper she added together, where the created gaps tell a story by themselves… and in-between soft charcoal drawings of those ghosts having lived there once upon a time.

Another material she was using to express the big Void between the past and today are shiny brilliant white plastic boards untouched by any scratches, the fog where everything disappears and in it lone figures feeling lost. Very strong.

The lifeless cement bodies of the ruins are meaningless, they are not more than lines, wrinkles in large pieces of paper or canvas over them strewn are glass splinters from broken windows or broken lives, the wasteland nothing but colour impressions, formless, but suddenly at the end of the wall, at the end of her story, the lines become distinct and finally a ray of green across them. I ask the artist: “Is there hope?” and she points to the bright green and the colourful glass splinters across some sheets of paper.

Perhaps the sun rays of renewal, the sun rays of freedom have hit the place…

I could not be present at the opening of the exhibition, where, the artist told me, some people had tears in their eyes with memories coming up when they as children had played there and the Void filled with sad memories.

A Warning for all of us, the wounds of war leave scars on our souls…

To see more pictures please go to my Facebook page

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