Nezaket Ekici's performances are intensive and task oriented, combining energy and humour as well as moments of pain and physical endurance. The nucleus of each performance is a task, such as chiselling out of a clay cast, chewing coloured gum until there is enough to create an image of the American flag, or kissing a wall until it is full of lipstick, which the artist endeavours to repeat until her goal is achieved or she reaches a level of complete exhaustion. While each performance is pre-planned, factors outside the artist's control effect its realisation, creating a sense of risk and potential failure.
When first encountered, Ekici's performances seem absurd, but after time the unrelenting repetition often makes them painful to watch. At this point the metaphorical or illustrative resonances and interpretations of the actions recede, and the viewer's empathy for the artist comes to the fore. This creates moments of emotional connection between the struggling artist and the audience witnessing the struggle.
Ekici does not place restrictions on which cultural, symbolic, societal, and religious reference systems she extricates aesthetically rich and powerful actions to mimic. Instead, her subject matter is broad and reflective of the interculturality of our globalised world where long distance travel is taken for granted and the transfer of information and exchange of experiences has become divorced from the need for physical presence. It is also indicative of her own nomadic existence as a Turkish migrant in Germany and as a performance artist who must travel regularly to participate in exhibitions.
A central tenet of Ekici's practice is her commitment to re-performing her work over many years, in different settings, with different audiences, and in different cultural contexts. Through this, she shows that even now, with our increasingly eroded cultural boundaries, different gestures and actions, even the simple ones at the core of her performances, are read differently and evoke different reactions.
Nezaket Ekici, b. 1970. Major exhibitions include Nezaket Ekici (solo), Villa Massimo, Rome, Italy (2017) Alles, was man besitzt, besitzt auch uns (solo), Haus am Waldsee, Berlin, Germany (2015); Einzelausstellung: Zwei Welten, Kunstverein Augsburg, Germany (2014); Neighbours- Contemporary Narratives from Turkey and Beyond, Istanbul Modern, Turkey (2014); Personal Map, to be continued... (solo), in cooperation with Marta Herford, De Bond, Cultuurcentrum Brugge, Belgium (2013). Ekici has received 15 separate project grants from the Goethe Institute for projects around the world. Major collections her work can be found in include The Artist Pension Trust, USA; Elgiz Museum of Contemporary Art, Turkey; The Foundation Frances, France; Kunstmuseum Heidenhelm, Germany; Marta Herford, Germany; Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, Canada; Pamplona Cultural, Spain; and The Vehbi Koç Foundation, Turkey.
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