Biber Bahçesi / Pepper Garden brings together a large body of textile works that speak to the post-Gezi period of the last ten years in Turkey. By weaving, knotting, twisting, packing, unraveling, and dissolving various fibres, Tamer exercises a deep care for craft and its physical possibilities in a material-bound yet symbol-laden world. While grieving the collective collapse of narrative capacities under the rise of securitarian regimes, the works invite a playful curiosity towards the possibilities brought upon by becoming undone. Tamer asks, “When fragments are scattered, what could a feminine reorganization of relating to one another look like? Are our previous ways of staying together still legitimate? When our sensed linearity of time is broken, what grows from the fracture point? When Law starts spinning out and Language starts thinning, where do their previous patriarchal projections on “woman” land?”
The exhibition features two monumental scale weavings made of pulped copies of the 2011 Istanbul Convention and the 2021 Turkish presidential verdict to withdraw from it, sprayed onto woven substrates of clear monofilament thread. Elements of these documents, such as Turkish flags, Council of Europe emblems, phrases, words, and letters, can be found in the final tapestries. Turkey’s ratification of The Istanbul Convention as a binding framework to combat gender-based violence was made possible by the relentless labour of grassroots collectives in Turkey. In 2021, the country’s participation was annulled overnight with a verdict from an increasingly authoritarian government, which claimed that the convention was “against family values.” By working with motions passed and annulled, Tamer highlights the generative and destructive potentials of legal frameworks, and the manufactured ideas of womanhood and citizenship expressed through the flattening effect of law.
In smaller works in the exhibition, Tamer inserts dyed threads, printed text, hair, pigeon feathers, and various found materials into nearly flat configurations through weaving, lace, and paper-making. An abundance of dandelions collected by Tamer and her son are dried and transformed into sculptural objects. The garden is a metaphorical space where sustenance and emergence occur together. By wilfully wishing for such a space, Biber Bahçesi / Pepper Garden places faith in the personal and collective capacity for growth.
Damla Tamer is a visual artist and educator born in Istanbul, Turkey and currently living on the unceded Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh territories. Her practice involves a close engagement with textile crafts, narrative performances and social-collaborative work. Damla Tamer’s work has been the focus of solo exhibitions at Gibsons Public Art Gallery (Gibsons, 2022), the fifty fifty arts Collective (Victoria, 2018) and the Darling Foundry (Montreal, 2013); included in The Artist’s Studio is Her Bedroom at the Contemporary Art Gallery curated by Kimberly Phillips (Vancouver, 2020), and featured on the cover of Capilano Review (3.42: Translingual). She has received grants and prizes for her art and writing, including an international fellowship at the Stundars Museum in Finland, which has enabled some of the works in this exhibition. Damla Tamer is a founding member of the artist mothers collective A.M. (Art Mamas). She currently teaches at the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University.
Begüm Özden Fırat is Professor at the Department of Sociology in Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Istanbul, Turkey. She works in the fields of visual culture, urban sociology, and social movements studies. She is the co-editor of Commitment and Complicity in Cultural Theory and Practice (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2009), Cultural Activism: Practices, Dilemmas, Possibilities (Rodopi, 2011) and Aesthetics and Resistance in the age of Global Uprisings (İletişim, 2015), and Property and the Commons: The Construction, Execution and Violation of Property in Turkey (Metis, 2023) Her book entitled Encounters with the Ottoman Miniature Contemporary Readings of an Imperial Art is published by I.B. Tauris in 2015. She is one of the directors of documentary “Welcome Lenin” (2016) and the director of the short experimental video “The Lightwell” (2020).
Sanem Güvenç is an independent scholar based in Vancouver. Her current practice sits at the intersection of social-political theory and psychoanalysis, and works towards carving and mapping possible instances of echoes, dissonances, knottings and alliances in between those two broad fields. She traces these, on the one hand, in the humanities and social science classes she teaches at ECUAD's Critical and Cultural Studies, where she is positioned as a scholar in residence. On the other hand, these tropes are the founding questions of her book manuscript, tentatively titled, Topologies of the Void, where she employs speculative narration and experimental theorizing. Previously she journeyed through twentieth century, its beginning and end through politics of eugenics and diseases in the first half of the twentieth century and neoliberal governmentalities at the tail end of it. At the moment, she is acting as the co-president of the Lacan Salon, the Vancouver-based psychoanalytic society that promotes and transmits analytical discourse.
Katie Belcher is an artist, curator, and cultural worker of white European and UK settler ancestry, based on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations (Vancouver, Canada). In her artistic practice, Katie makes monumental drawings that act as scores, translations, and rehearsals of remembered gestures. Organizationally, as the recent Director/Curator of Access Gallery (2017-2023), and formerly as Eyelevel's Artistic Director (2013-17), she aims to challenge modes of presentation, making space for care, risk, and failure in artistic practice.