Critics’ Picks

İnci Eviner, Defeated Icarus, 1997, ink on paper, 60 x 39''.

İnci Eviner, Defeated Icarus, 1997, ink on paper, 60 x 39''.


İnci Eviner

Istanbul Modern
Asmalımescit Mahallesi Meşrutiyet Caddesi, No:99
June 22–October 23, 2016

“The besieging gaze that angels cast on the city has been interrupted,” wrote artist İnci Eviner about Istanbul and her photographic series “Nowhere-Body-Here,” 2000, during a transitional period in her career when she steeped herself in cross-media experimentation and began merging the personal politics of her oeuvre with urban—even civic—concerns. “Who’s Inside You,” a long-awaited retrospective of Eviner’s work, with its imposing yet intimate architecture, could be a haunting maquette of this city without its guardian angels: It speaks to the way its denizens have been changing skins, so to speak, to cope with deep-rooted sexism, urban transformation, and police brutality.

Always underscoring the importance of drawing, Eviner takes up the role of a pathologist and cuts into the thick skin of a troubled society with her incisions in order to reveal grotesque ailments. A rare presentation of her groundbreaking series “Skinless,” 1996, features two stiff leather cardigans with sleeves too short and narrow for one to wear. Hand-drawn heads float on the copper-plated inside of one of the cardigans, seemingly propelled by their long dark hair. This frivolous anonymity is carried on to a shepherd’s cape—also leather—that boasts its own (drawn) nervous system with bulbous, erotic extensions on copper.

The large silver heels, black-and-white leopard-patterned loose pants, and albino politicians, so prevalent in Eviner’s photographic and video work, do not (yet) appear in her 1997 ink drawings Icarus and Defeated Icarus. However, the artist’s proclivity toward defamiliarizing superimpositions still emerge in these torso-less Icaruses: They spread their wings, perhaps inherited from the expelled angels of the city, but unidentified tentacles, which do not appear in the original myth, hold them back in midair. Despite this suspension, several ink drops make their way down, leaving behind straight, gravity-ridden lines that multiply the tragic hero’s fall.