– Summer 2014

Cloth People from Outer Space: Nilbar Güres's Dialectics of Identity

Lara Fresko

Nilbar Güres ̨, Uzaylı Kumas ̨ insanlar (Cloth People from Outer Space), 2005, ink on hand-made paper, 30 pieces, 5 × 5cm each. Photograph: Nicole Tintera. All images courtesy the artist; Rampa, Istanbul; and Galerie Martin Janda, Vienna

Nilbar Güres ̧’s visual language draws from the mobility of a globalised world, yet at the same time revolves intensely around specific localities and the identities they harbour. In this rift, her work often captures the queerness that arises from the artist’s own sense of being out of place. Often focusing on subjects who have little or no visibility, her intricate and elusive videos, photographs and collages attempt to find moments of clarity amongst absurd elements of quotidian life or, conversely, stage scenes that foreground the absurdity also hidden amidst it.

A household telephone lies on the snow in the middle of nowhere; a bunch of bed sheets and blankets hover in the air; a group of women water an uprooted tree in the construction zone that will soon devour their neighbourhood. Such scenes, fabricated by the artist, genuinely reflect a reality that eludes representation within what Jacques Rancière calls the ‘sensible fabric of experience’. ‘Art’,
he writes, ‘is given to us through these transformations of the sensible fabric, at the cost of constantly merging its own reasons with those belonging to other spheres of experience.’1 Güres ̧’s works

  1. Jacques Rancière, Aisthesis: Scenes from the Aesthetic Regime of Art (trans. Zakir Paul), Verso: London, 2013, p.7.

  2. Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (1952; trans. Richard Philcox), New York: Grove Press, 2007.

  3. See Dinçer S ̨irin, ‘Yatak Odasında Müsabaka’, Sanat Dünyamız, no.136, September—October 2013.

  4. Nil Mutluer, ‘The Trans Resistance’, in Cay Sophie Rabinowitz (ed.), Nilbar Güres ̨: Who Is the Subject?, Istanbul: Osmos Books, 2013, p.7.

  5. Conversation with the artist, 21 February 2014.

  6. Ibid.