Su Yolu Bulur: water finds their way is a multimedia, site-specific installation contending with the grief of colonial displacement and encounter, and the communion and collectivity that might return us to ourselves, each other and the land.
Working with carpets–an alternative gathering space to the colonial table, and symbol of communion and spiritual practice–Zorlutuna weaves together the traditional and visionary. Su Yollunu Bulur emerges in relation to carpets in the Agnes Etherington collection allegedly acquired by Etherington’s husband while stationed in Egypt during WWI. From these, Zorlutuna pulls motifs, exploding their scale and intersecting them with renderings of Kingston area waterways, local flora and fauna. By combining these symbols used to describe the lands of their origins, Zorlutuna complicates the storytelling of these individual elements. Layered among each other, the motifs and shapes become portals into the sacred, time-travelling through ancient practice and enduring form. Through relocating and recontextualizing these motifs in relation to the lands where they now reside, and within the holy shape of the mihrab (the arced form within a prayer rug), we are asked to witness the trajectory of colonial acquisition that contributes to our present moment.
Accompanying the carpets are medicinal plants grown and harvested by Zorlutuna and collaborator SF Ho as well as roses collected from the Agnes Etherington gardens. Reclaiming the rose from their designation as ornamental and likewise the opium poppy from criminal to medicinal, these healing plants lend their support for grief, and the revolutionary act of dreaming.
Below the floorboards the archive is holding its breath.
Longing to be touched, to share what it remembers.
If only we can learn to listen.
Alize Zorlutuna in collaboration with SF Ho
What if an archive is a portal not to some colonial fantasy, but to what a body knows and remembers?
Negotiating the use of objects in the collection of Agnes Etherington, the museum’s archive is arranged into new constellations for encounter and concealment. Instead of evoking faraway places or the distant past, objects deemed too precious to touch are here imbued with use and life. A hammam bowl is filled with water. The scent of tea and coffee invites the missing body into relation with what was once ordinary but is now forbidden. A tablecloth is stained with remnants of a meal. The subjects of a photograph are hidden and protected from the intrusive gaze of a camera. With lineages spanning two sides of the so-called Orient, Zorlutuna and Ho enter the institution through the fantasy of the East. Collaboratively written texts imagine a narrative outside of the museum, while obscuring the bodies in question from exotic confabulations that permeate the colonial archive. The actions that constitute this configuration engage with, and trouble protocols of the colonial system, in order to leave the museum with a different story. What might we recover through imagination?
Takunya, Ebru, Column, hammam bowl
The women pour water over their wrinkly soft bodies pour cold shocks over steaming skin scrubbing each other and children hard while gossiping loudly and children scream and scream and slip and fall and run around in circles while water runs in streams around fingers and toes while water steams through hair and evaporates and drips onto slimy tiles while water forms into a lake as wide and open as the sky. This gendered space is a body of water. Necessary and precious, it becomes the sound of laughter as it trickles and drips into a basin on the floor.
Fincan, saucer, Anatolian coffee, black tea, poppy
A scalding cupful of bitterness. An infusion situated in time. To share a drink with a friend across this disappearing table. We chat and laugh while rubbing leaves, sticks and seeds all over our bodies and fall to the floor and get up and keep chatting and drinking and laughing. The bitterness fills our mouths and bellies. We drink to the trade routes that have criss-crossed our homelands. We toast the dissolution of capital as it courses through our guts and bones. We salute the way our ways travel as we travel so our ways are no longer our own. This disappearing table, this scalding cup that burns as we touch. We all drink and we drink.
Fez, terlik, ebru, national geographic clipping, fincan, nazar boncuk (glass bead),
rose petals, rue, silk dyed with Anatolian plants & earth
Seated upon this trace of the earth, the artist, in choosing absence, chooses protection and growth. “I’m just gonna sit this one out.” A sprout pushes out of the pages of some outmoded idea of distance.The maker unknown, the hands ever present as spirit. These missing gestures. We lie on the ground, footsteps flattened into dirt. There are more than a hundred ways to say NO. Beauty springs from every syllable of refusal.
Vessels from the Agnes Etherington collection, silk, rose petals
The organisation does not condone the view that the objects are immobilised. True, they do not sit upon a table or nestle between a pair of cupped palms. However the public can rest assured they do indeed retain a vestige of their relationality. The vessels relax. A graceful bird descends from the heavens and wraps a thin fog over this jumbled conflation. Woven from breadcrumbs, frustration, hearsay, and heartbreak, this mixture is blended with juices squeezed from pulpy fruits and sauce stains and sweat-laden breaths.
Pouring sauce and hearts onto silk imbued with gifted bakwaannatig and nar peels who have been waiting for an unknown future. Stained with pleasure, an eternity of waiting arrives after the grief of conflict, the slow pace of repair, coming together after separation. Shielded from the prying eyes and intrepid little paws of local ethnographers, anthropologists, collectors, archivists and conservators, the vessels open their mouths. Hidden inside are molecules of wetness.
Horseshoe from Agnes Etherington collection, nazar boncuk (glass bead), wool yarn, horsehair, rue
Deemed a curious, unremarkable acquisition, you (a sacred object), are allowed into my gloved hands. Your rusting body is wrapped with tissue paper and placed in the discarded box of an outmoded digital camera. You travel in the back seat of my car. You wait for me to return with horsehair and nazar to festoon your body, transform you into an amulet like the ones in my grandmother’s home, my mother’s home, my home. Facing the entrance of the room, you are watching.