Critics’ Picks

View of “Mundessa,” 2018.

View of “Mundessa,” 2018.


Lara Ögel

Bogazkesen Caddesi 31 RA Binasi Tophane
August 2–September 15, 2018

There is much dust in “Mundessa,” Lara Ögel’s gripping new exhibition, where it constitutes both the theme and the material of works (the title refers to swept-up dust in the Adriatic Italian dialect). Ögel’s previous solo show, “Imtidad,” dealt with the public history of a Greek primary school in Istanbul and presented five dust-covered windows taken from the school depot. “Mundessa”’s focus is the domestic. The installation All Seeds, 2018, features a sculpture made of lace and an elastic band, resembling a skirt of the kind commonly used to protect beds from dust. But the band circles a void instead of a mattress. Ögel fills that space with the contents of her vacuum cleaner. Putting household dust on display is a personal and political act: The tiny particles include flakes of the artist’s skin shed on the surfaces of her apartment. The installation has the shape of a grave, referencing burial ceremonies and the phrase “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”

The dust carried in air is the subject of the installation’s two-channel video, which collapses two perspectives from Ögel’s apartment, underlining a public-private dichotomy inside one’s living quarters. The left frame shows her living room, and on the right is her bedroom. There are plants in the first; drawn curtains represent the second. As the sun illuminates both rooms from different angles, the video’s composition produces the illusion of dust traveling from one frame to the other. It magnifies and glorifies the unseen.

An illustration titled Soul of Man from the 1665 edition of John Comenius’s Orbis sensualium pictus (The Visible World in Pictures), arguably the first children’s picture book ever published, is displayed as a photographic slide. Comenius’s combination of the biblical and anatomical seems fitting, as the dotted figure echoes Ögel’s belief in the human soul’s dustlike composition, similarly fleeting and formative.