Critics’ Picks

Hacer Kıroğlu, Untitled, 2021, ink on handmade paper, 27 1/2 x 19 1/2".

Hacer Kıroğlu, Untitled, 2021, ink on handmade paper, 27 1/2 x 19 1/2".

Istanbul

“What Water Knows”

Pilot Gallery
Sıraselviler Caddesi No.83/2
January 15–February 26, 2022

Hito Steyerl’s Liquidity Inc., 2014, a multimedia portrait of the mixed-martial-arts fighter Jacob Wood, whose fluid financial assets upended his life, inspired this show, which probes the flowing intersections of capital, global warming, and the 2015 European migrant crisis. Gözde Mimiko Türkkan waxes poetic about water in Innergy/Watery Incantations, 2021, a twelve-minute video she filmed among Venice’s canals, Geneva’s lakes, and the snowy peaks of the Alps. Correlating her angst with restless waves and melting ice caps, Türkkan treats water as a “timeline, a carrier of ancient data.” Split-screened images and a rippling soundtrack structure her essayistic interrogation, in which she posits water as nonbinary, “neither a mother nor a father,” a portal into the “Ocean of [her] consciousness.”

Pınar Öğrenci’s video A Gentle Breeze Passed Over Us, 2017, opens on the calm surface of the Mediterranean, over which a pear-shaped string instrument called an oud wanders silently. Ahmed Shaqaqi, an Iraqi musician, describes buying his first oud in Baghdad and carrying it with him on his migrant journey to Istanbul. The smuggler who organized Shaqaqi’s transport forced him, at gunpoint, to leave the instrument on the shore to make space in his boat for as many refugees as possible. The musician’s ode to a lost beloved crystalizes the choices migrants must make while caught in a limbo between their past and their future. The film’s final moments show waves assuming their new political role as frightful minefields that keep “foreigners” out.

Hacer Kıroğlu uses water as material in Untitled, 2021, an ink-on-handmade-paper drawing. Inspired by the palimpsest, a manuscript technique that superimposes text on effaced earlier writing, Kıroğlu wrote diary entries, washed and dried them, then rinsed and repeated. The resulting distorted scribblings simultaneously evoke the processes of writing and erasure that permeate creativity and distill liquid mechanisms of thought.