Critics’ Picks

Sefer Memişoğlu, MacGuff, 2018, silicone, pigment, resin, human hair, sensor, engine, data reader, dimensions variable.

Istanbul

Sefer Memişoğlu

DEPO
Tütün Deposu Lüleci Hendek Caddesi No.12
September 15 - October 28

In Sefer Memişoğlu’s “The Eye’s Ray,” mystical video installations, libidinous sculptures, and five unsettling drawings surrender symbols of masculinity to the female gaze. The Laugh of the Medusa, 2017, a sculpture made with silicone and human hair, involves a gorgon-like head covered not with snakes but with a dozen circumcised and uncircumcised penises. Her lethal stare seems to be directed at Glorious Moment, 2014, a video installed at the opposite end of the gallery, in which the phallic silhouette of a match is backdropped by waves beating against a shore at sunset.

MacGuffin, 2018, evokes patriarchy in the form of a silicone arm-an exact replica of the artist’s-that materializes from a white wall. The clenched fist speaks to aggression and strength, but in its amputated, abandoned state, the limb becomes the basis for an introspective critique of male power in art spaces. Penciled depictions of masculinity (Oxford shoes in The Feet, 2017; former French president François Hollande in The Head, 2016; a veiny hand in The Hand, 2018) contrast awkwardly with a portrait of Guy Debord, from 2016. The theorist’s face is as uncanny as Medusa’s, and he holds the viewer’s gaze with his own.

A two-channel video, Non Serviam, 2015, quotes Stan Brakhage in its opening frame: “The stars are optical nerve endings of the eye which the universe is.” The work is set in a snowy forest, where a woman folds an origami swan. In the second frame, a fire ant chased by sunbeams, made by a magnifying glass, perishes while the paper swan begins to float toward the heavens. In this work and others, the well-known becomes unfamiliar, and confronting symbols of masculinity is a necessity. Looking away is not an option.