Critics’ Picks

View of “She Waited for a While,” 2019.

View of “She Waited for a While,” 2019.


İnci Furni

Irmak Caddesi No: 13 Dolapdere Beyoğlu
September 13, 2019–January 26, 2020

Istanbul suffered a 5.8 earthquake on the day İnci Furni was scheduled to give a gallery talk about her latest exhibition, “She Waited for a While.” The talk was easily rescheduled, yet the interruption seemed to literalize both the show’s title and its underlying subtext of upheaval and displacement. Featuring sparse, life-size drawings inspired by people glimpsed on the street, inexpensive objects bought from a nearby street market, renderings of these things, and two videos, the exhibition quietly maps the psychogeography of urban life. While Furni has continually dealt with this subject, these works stand apart in their site specificity; she turned the gallery of Arter’s new museum building into her studio.

Despite the presentation’s emphasis on the local, or perhaps because of it, placelessness emerges as a motif. The drawn figures, afloat in expanses of white paper, appear unmoored from their municipal context. In the two-channel video I Found This on the Way, 2019, the artist rearranges objects collected from the Dolapdere neighborhood on a table while reciting a poem of loosely connected words. She puts down plywood shapes that resemble puzzle pieces, then places colorful plastic toys, belongings such as sunglasses and a pine cone, and stacks of paper cups on top of them, assembling what looks like a model of an ever more crowding, overdeveloped city. The paper-cup high-rises teeter and fall. She builds them up, but they fall again, and she finally puts them away. If Furni’s decision to introduce seemingly worthless trifles culled from the surrounding streets into the gallery is an effort to collapse the distinctions between inside and outside, it also calls attention to the residents of the low-income neighborhoods that lie just beyond the museum’s $135 million walls. Moving, rearranging, packing, unpacking: Furni’s gestures represent attempts to form attachments to a place. The difficulty of this effort becomes clear in light of the greater forces acting upon Istanbul’s most vulnerable residents, such as gentrification, political instability, and natural disaster.