This autumn, artist Ayşe Erkmen brings an ambitious new show to the Barbican, in which she will present a dozen scenic backdrops – from fairytale landscapes to household interiors – that are slowly lowered and raised by an automated fly system. We catch up with the ambitious Turk to find out what lead her to the Barbican.
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF.
I was born in 1949, in Istanbul, Turkey. I studied sculpture in the 1970s at the Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts in Istanbul and have been professor in Hessen province, Germany since 2010. In 2002, I received the Maria Sibylla Merian award, a bi-annual award given by the Hessen province. My work has been continuously on exhibition in local and international galleries and biennials for the last 20 years. In 2011, I represented Turkey at the 54th Venice Biennale. Recent solo exhibitions include Witte de With, Centre for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (2010); Weggefährten, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2008); K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein – Westfalen, Düsseldorf (2008); Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2005); Sculpture Centre, New York (2005); Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2005); Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, St. Gallen (2003); Secession, Vienna (2002). I have also participated in numerous group exhibitions including Manifesta 1, Rotterdam (1996) and Skulpturen Projekte, Münster (1997). I live and work in Istanbul and Berlin and I teach in the Kunstakademie Muenster.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Each time I start a new project, something different inspires me. It could be the space, the city, the concerns I may have, the political situation, the media, the people, a specific person, the time, problems, good things happening, travels, anything.
WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO ACHIEVE WITH YOUR WORK, HOW ARE YOU MAKING THE MOST FROM YOUR MEDIUM?
“Making the most of the medium” would be the quote I would take from your question. I want to achieve the best out of a problem. Best could be the best or worst visual result; or the largest or smallest sights around; or something I have not done before or has not been done or seen before; or something unexpected different, strange.
WHAT SORT OF PERCEPTION DO YOU THINK PEOPLE HAVE OF YOUR WORK?
I don’t really know, my work is said to be difficult to understand. I think could be because I try to hide my intentions or not to show my message too directly. Although my work looks quite simple, most of the time it has (hopefully) many layers of meaning, thus making it more complex than it looks. Actually I like the misunderstandings and different interpretations that even I may not have thought about before.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
I am working on two public sculptures, one in the USA, one in Europe, and four exhibitions in September and October for which I am working on some new works, including a biennial work.
WHERE CAN WE SEE YOUR WORK THIS YEAR?
Loads of places! I’m creating a new work for the İstanbul Biennial in mid-September and I have an exhibition opening at the Barbican later that month. Following that I’m in Geneva in the beginning of October; in a group show in Berlin; at the Hopkinson Mossman Gallery in Auckland; and in St Louis at the Washington University Campus where I am creating a public sculpture.
Ayse Erkmen: Intervals opens at The Curve in the Barbican on 24 September 2013 and runs until 5 January 2014