By Tajudeen Sowole
(First published on Tuesday, April 20, 2010)
STILL striving to promote uncommon conceptual art, Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), Lagos, has again found another "weird" one in a foreign artist.
It's Turkish fashion designer and photo artist, Pinar Yolacan's photography exhibition titled Maria.
Last Saturday afternoon, at the Sabo, Yaba gallery of CCA, Yolacan, a U.S.-based artist's idea of clothing using raw animal parts as fabrics found partners in a people who are, perhaps, nostalgic about lost of identity. The event continues till May 29, 2010.
From such cow parts as placenta, kidney, liver and testicles, the artist sewed various styles for her models, photographed them and has been exhibiting the works in several countries across the
She said its all bout the passage of time. Over the ages and generations, identities have been lost and perhaps it would be
more interesting to experiment with animal parts.
Trained as fashion designer at Central Saint Martins
College of Art and Design, London, United Kingdom and currently working in the U.S., her choice of Brazil, she explained has to do with the African-Brazilian's historic journey in the history of slavery. She also found a common identity for her project in the Candomble native religion said to be from the people's Orisha practice.
The rituals, which she noted involved sacrificing animals, held at the period of sorting out models for her photographs.
Yolacan must have had a difficult time convincing
people to wear animal parts. It's like casting for a movie, she
explained. "I had photographs of as many women as possible and chose from the lot. Even, not every one I chose agreed to wear my 'weird' clothings; those who agreed were happy collaborating with me," she said.
In one of the 12 life size portraits on display, Yolacan sewed a waistcoat, from raw placenta of a cow. And the model, an aged woman whose pronounced facial features, contoured arms and torso are highlighted under tungsten studio lighting against black background showed a mere blank expression. All models for the portraits have similar expression; difficult to read how they feel wearing real cow parts, which are almost dripping with blood.
Even though Yolacan labeled each work Untitled because of the portrait nature of the exhibits, name of the models were
|Photographer, Pinar Yolacan's sewed waistcoat, from raw placenta of a cow|
For another old lady, Antonia, it's a checkered design top and
Morena too, both in liver. In Diadaria, Celine, Irene and Nalva, it was placenta. In fact, the artist goes lingerie with Rose's in bra for the slimmer lady.
Sometime, it's testicles or cow eyes as jewelries and bracelets.
Surprisingly, Maria is yet to be on display in Brazil. "I only show my works where I am invited. I have given each
women a picture, but it will be great to let those women see the works in life size," she stressed, but said an offer was yet to come from Brazil.
The exhibition is part of a year-long focus on Photography and Art, Fashion and Identity, director of CCA, Lagos Bisi Silva said. She described it as "critically acclaimed 2007 series of Maria." The shoot, Yolacan said was done over a twelve-month period at
such locations as Itaparica and Bahia, in Brazil.
Silva argued that the artist "subverts regality by dressing her sitters in elaborate hand sewn couture costumes with trimmings of 'unusual' materials such as velvet, satin, tripe, placenta and sheep's testicles." Through this series, Yolacan engages with
issues of beauty, the body, colonialism, and death as a way of
broaching the "impermanence of things."
Yolacan's visit was not just about the exhibition; it coincided with the centre's three-day workshop on fashion and photography held in the last two days. She was expected to "guide participants in conceiving and realizing works that will be exhibited within the CCA, Lagos library space as part of our Fashion, Art and
Yolacan will also be part of the centre's P.A.G.E.S, a discussion by artists and writers on April 24, 2010.
Yolacan studied art at Chelsea School of Art and Design; got her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Cooper Union in New York City.
Some of her group shows are Dress Codes, the 3rd ICP Triennal of
Photography, International Centre for Photography, New York, (2009); Tracking Traces KIASMA, Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, (2009); In the light of Play CCA, Lagos at Durban Art Gallery, Durban; 2nd Johannesburg Art Fair, South Africa (2009); Turkish Realities: Positions in Contemporary Photography from Turkey; Fotografie Forum International Frankfurt, Germany (2008).