Acts of Erasure brings the two distinct artistic practices of Fatma Bucak and Krista Belle Stewart into dialogue. This pairing opens space for conversations around political identity concerning land and heritage, methodologies of historical repression and interpretation, and the act and effects of erasure. The exhibition is organized in partnership with Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.
The photographic emphasis in Bucak’s work is realized through sculptural forms. For this exhibition, she has reconfigured an earlier artwork, Remains of what has not been said(2016). The updated version embraces the gallery space to serve as a record of opposition to censorship, in the context of an absence of wider structural resistance. Bucak has produced several works in which she washes the newsprint from daily papers to represent incidents of suppression within the media. In Remains of what has not been said, stained water from the ink of 84 newspapers, printed on different days, has been bottled and held for all to witness. Each jar bears a note dating its contents, beginning with February 7, 2016—the day referred to as the “basement massacre,” when over 150 civilians were killed by Turkish security forces in Cizre, a Kurdish town close to the Syrian border. Each of Bucak’s photographs in this expansive series differs only slightly and becomes part of a chain that suggests how propaganda spreads and infiltrates society.
Another of her works, A Study of Eight Landscapes (2012–16), confronts the contingency of border spaces and the tenuous interdependency that resides within them. To produce these still-life photographs, Bucak worked collaboratively with people living and working near and across borderlands. The composed objects collected from these sites explore mental and material realities of spaces where conditions of life are highly dependent on the entities on either side of a border. The photographs present a stark view of transitional landscapes, such as those between the United States and Mexico, Turkey and Armenia, and Syria and Turkey.