Statement

The unrelenting proliferation of glass and concrete, to name some aspects of modern life, as part of the continuing war against nature in our surroundings and also the continuing rule of the patriarchy has led me to approach my work in a very organic manner and become very women centered. I am inspired by beading, knitting, embroidery, fabrics, most things considered to be “women’s work” or women’s interest”. I make acrylic on canvas paintings which are organically composed and made in a very meditative way. They actually have a feel of embroidery, beading or knitting as I mentioned above. I also do “marbling” on paper which I then “embroider” with acrylic paint and hang around the space with laundry pins like laundry. Or I hang them  in a circle to create a small temple for the Goddess. “Marbling” in Turkey where I currently live and work is considered a traditional technique usually done by women which is why I have adopted the process, except that I do it in a very unconventional manner and I feel the result is original. Thirdly, I create, with the help of a very talented seamstress, Goddess outfits  using inexpensive but iconic fabrics which are traditional and very widely used by regular people here in Turkey. Finally, I create costumes for performances with Goddess centered themes which I choreograph and stage at the openings and closings of my shows.

I have lived and worked in NY for most of my professional life and also currently regularly show there. Right now I live and work and show in Istanbul, Turkey.

I have a BA in English-German translation from the University of Graz, Graz Austria and I also speak Russian.

BA California College of the Arts, Oakland, California

MFA Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY

My work is currently on display at Brooklyn College, Office of the Provost.

I will be having a one person show at the Phatory Gallery, NY in November, 2019.

Here is a brief description of my work: 

I will start with my inspiration and its history: Sumerbank was a group of state-run enterprises which produced many consumer goods, like textiles, garments, shoes, ceramics, paper from the early decades of the republic up until the end of the century. We had a closed economy at the time and there were no imports to speak of. So, we were completely at the mercy of Sumerbank, which meant we had a love hate relationship with these stores because they did not produce what we wanted, like jeans or sneakers; but they provided us with most everything we needed. They produced goods for all segments of society, which were very well made, reasonably priced and lasted a long time. These factories were later closed and do not exist anymore, except for this one store I still visit frequently to look at and buy fabrics. Whenever I went there, I noticed all the memories and sensations each fabric pattern awakened in me.  

I felt like I was watching a movie of my life remembering situations and people long forgotten, or old Turkish movies where the characters would be dressed in clothes made of these fabrics, the rich boss, the cleaning lady... By that time, I had amassed quite a collection, so I decided to use it in my work. Since these fabrics were mostly worn by the poorer segments of society, which meant that these women were invisible to the mainstream media and the male gaze, I decided to honor them by creating Goddesses outfits out of the fabrics they wore. The first one I made I called The Sumerbank Goddess. I also made Goddess wall hangings using the same fabrics. The male pajama fabric which I cut to look like lace, I attached on all the wall hangings, as a symbol of the patriarchal culture we live in. 

Nonetheless the source of all this work remains in my paintings which are inspired by all kinds of “Woman’s work” such as embroidery, stitching, knitting, beadwork and oya, which is a kind of embroidery done in Turkey.  To the paintings were added the marbling do on long pieces of paper. I stitch pieces of lace, artificial flowers, and girl child toys using wool, into them. I also “embroider” them with paint like I do in my paintings. Marbling is also a traditional Turkish technique but I have created my own free style. These pieces are then hung like laundry on wires stretched between metal rods sunk into concrete poured into olive oil cans, which is a widely used item in shanty towns all around Turkey.

So, the format of my installation would be as follows:

1. Paintings,

2. In front of the paintings the works on paper

3. The Goddess outfits on manikins

4. Costumes designed by me on performers in movement. 

Our performance “Cycle of the Goddess” reenacts the seasons and the passage of time as the “Goddess as Maiden” awakens her Heros, then the “Goddess as Mother” weds him and the “Goddess as Crone” lays him to rest to be awakened in the Spring once again when the action is resumed. 

At the closing of my show in New York at the Phatory Gallery, I had a Henna Night performance except the bride was male and he danced with the male pajama fabric as his groom.  

The reactions to my shows have been very moving. In Turkey these fabrics had the same effect on the viewers as they had on me. People recognized fabrics and remembered people they knew who used to wear them with stories and memories. In New York, African American viewers saw similarities to their own beautiful fabrics and the Goddess outfits reminded them of Orishas.  


Thank you for your time.  

 


Suzan Batu