Volkan Aslan: A Day Not Lived


A Day Not Yet Lived, 6 June - 5 July 2014, is Istanbul based Turkish artist Volkan Aslan's inaugural solo exhibition at Pi Artworks, London and first major show in the UK. For the exhibition, the artist will transform the gallery with an ambitious, site-specific installation that will act as an unconventional platform for his well-known broken figurine series.


Time is a trajectory segmented into regular, repeatable, and measurable units - seconds, minutes, hours, and days, yet our perception of its passage is far less simple and linear due to the act of remembering and forgetting. Aslan's recent practice is influenced by the artist's memories and the malleability of our perception of the passing of time. These memories, half remembered half forgotten, draw him to certain items he comes across on his day-to-day business that remind him of experiences. These found objects are then playfully manipulated to form surreal constructions that fuse his personal associations with new and unexpected interpretations.  


The Fragile series of work from this exhibition is inspired by nostalgia for the artist's childhood. A key memory of this period was visiting the houses of friends and relatives and seeing decorative ceramic statuettes in prominent glass display cabinets, but not being allowed to play with them. As a young adult he began collecting ornaments reminiscent of those from his childhood, but it was not long before these delicate, mass produced items got cracked and broken as he moved from one house to another, leading to the urge to glue one broken part onto that of another. Gradually this process of breaking and mending transformed from a weekend activity with little aspiration of being a serious creative process into an obsessive creative template. 


Aslan uses this procedural template of repeatedly shattering these ornaments, compiling the broken pieces, and then amalgamating them as the mechanism for the creation of a series of nameless, hybrid configurations with jarring characteristics. Within this approach, the traditional planning and blueprints that characterizes most approaches to art making don't exist and the act of conception and production take place simultaneously in single, destructive acts. There is also something very endearing in his deliberate rejection of the constraints that stopped him from playing with the figurines as a child. 


For A Day Not Yet Lived, the artist has produced creatures that appear to be straight out of folk legends or mythology, yet backstories or scripted journey for these figures don't actually exist and the artist deliberately leaves the viewer to shape the character's stories.

The Fragile series debuted at Aslan's solo exhibition in May 2013 at the prestigious Arter- Space for art, Istanbul in which he created seven distinct bodies of work, each relating to a different day of the week. Originally representing Sunday due to its hobbyist connotations, the series has subsequently been exhibited as standalone artworks in a number of exhibitions, with A Day Not Yet Lived being the culmination of this developmental process.


About Volkan Aslan: Solo exhibitions in Istanbul include Don't Forget to Remember at Arter - Space for Art (2013); Volkan at Macka Art Gallery (2011); Unstable Repetition at Pi Artworks (2011); and Volkan Aslan in Istanbul at Under Construction (2007). Group exhibitions have taken place as far and wide as Turkey, Morocco, Lebanon, the UAE, USA, Italy, Germany, France and Brazil and his work was included in the 2013 Istanbul Biennial. Aslan's work is included in a number of Turkish collections, including the Özyeğin University collection and Arter - Space for Art, an initiative of The Vehbi Koç Foundation. Aslan is also co-founder of 5533, a non-profit independent art space in Unkapanı, Istanbul.


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