Elif Erkan, Pot, 2021, cornstarch, vinegar, mineral oil, iron oxide, elmers glue, parsley, 11 x 18 x 12,6 cm

Elif Erkan. In the Off Hours

Renata Fabbri arte contemporanea, Milano

Testo critico di | Critical text by Valeria Schäfer

Renata Fabbri arte contemporanea è lieta di annunciare In the Off Hours, la prima personale in Italia dell’artista Elif Erkan (Ankara, Turchia, 1985). In mostra una serie di opere scultoree inedite, accompagnate da una proiezione video, che richiamano l’attenzione sui temi della sostenibilità ecologica e ambientale.

Attraverso un approccio orientato al processo, la pratica artistica di Elif Erkan indaga le connotazioni emotive e psicologiche interne alle strutture socio-economiche, politiche e culturali della contemporaneità. Tale dimensione, affettiva e mutevole, è al centro della produzione dell’artista, che si contraddistingue per l’utilizzo di materiali scultorei tradizionali combinati a elementi e iconografie del consumismo odierno e delle sue dipendenze. Mediante gesti seriali, di impressione, di accumulazione e rimozione, Erkan interviene in modo spontaneo sulla materia di cui si serve per creare le sue sculture, lasciando al comportamento irrazionale di questa, la facoltà di generare oggetti misteriosi ed accidentali. Questi oggetti, apparentemente contraddittori ma accomunati da una delicata organicità, conservano e sublimano nel loro stato “compiuto”, l’impronta dell’azione trasformativa dell’artista, che ne ha definito la sembianza, rivelando, dietro un’illusoria solidità plastica, l’essenza transitoria e vulnerabile della stessa.

In occasione della sua prima mostra in galleria, Erkan presenta una produzione di nuovi lavori che, legati a una sua esperienza personale su una nave da crociera, interrogano la presunta sostenibilità ambientale delle compagnie di navigazione turistiche – decantata dalle stesse come primaria responsabilità aziendale. Allestite alle pareti della galleria, una serie di sculture realizzate con una plastilina biodegradabile che allude, a livello cromatico, alla natura pericolosa e al contempo vitale dell’acqua del mare. Ricavati dal calco di imballaggi o, ancora, utilizzando frammenti di manifesti pubblicitari presenti sulle navi per incrementare la sensibilità ecologica dei passeggeri e dei dipendenti, tali ambigui artefatti palesano l’ipocrisia di un sistema mascherato da allettanti promesse: volto al profitto economico a scapito della salvaguardia ambientale.

In dialogo con le opere a parete, un gruppo di sculture dalla forma stalagmitica, disseminate sulla pavimentazione e composte di un amalgama di argilla, gesso e cemento, sembrano trasportarci nell’abisso del mare, nei recessi del pianeta terra, nel flusso incessante, silente e opulento, degli scarti globali. Collegate fra loro da lunghe catene, le sculture “connotano” gli ambienti espositivi, simulando – attraverso una struttura divisoria e labirintica – i lunghi momenti di attesa in coda che i turisti trascorrono prima di salire a bordo. Così sospese, come in stato di “potenziale attivazione”, le opere in mostra – accompagnate da una proiezione video caratterizzata da una dimensione intima e partecipativa – guidano l’osservatore, invitandolo a meditare sul valore di un tempo che, svincolato da impegni e restrizioni, possa indurlo nella formulazione di un pensiero critico sul mondo: una sorta di intervallo, appunto, in cui è possibile fare esperienza di un pensiero diverso.

Elif Erkan (1985, Ankara, Turchia) vive e lavora a Vienna. Ha conseguito il Master in Belle Arti presso l’Otis College of Art and Design di Los Angeles (2016) e la laurea presso la Städelschule di Francoforte sul Meno, Germania (2013). Tra le mostre personali recenti: Where you they form, The Pill (Istanbul, 2020); What is that possesses me, Weiss Berlin (Berlino, 2018); Ex Oriente Lux, Park View (Los Angeles, 2016); Standards for Living, Maison des Arts, (Bruxelles, 2015); Konzentration der Kräfte, Portikus, (Francoforte, 2015). Ha partecipato a varie mostre collettive, tra le quali: Biennale Sculpture Garden, a cura di Devrim Bayar (Ginevra, 2022); Desilusionarium V, Night Gallery (Los Angeles, 2021); What Remains Is What The Poets Found, PS120 (Berlino, 2018); Work Loves Me, Lanserhaus, Appiano sulla strada del vino (Italia, 2018); LA Should Die Vor Glück, Just Married (Alhambra/Los Angeles, 2017); The New Normal, Ashkal Alwan (Beirut, 2017); Paroxysm of Union, Kunsthalle Freeport Union (Atene, 2017); The New Normal, Supa Salon (Istanbul, 2017); We remember it for you wholesale, CTA Building, Sydney (Australia, 2017); Cum-Ex, Kunsthalle Freeport Union (Berlino, 2017); We remember it for you wholesale, Part II, Minerva (Sydney, 2017); Home, Night Club (Chicago, Illinois, USA 2016); Capital. Debt, Territory, Utopia, Hamburger Bahnhof, (Berlino, 2016); Gut Instinct, The Gluckman Museum (Cork, Irlanda, 2016); The Social Register, Park View (Los Angeles, 2015); A Possible Collection, Honolulu (Zurigo, 2015); Career Woman, Holz Kohle Koks (Berlino, 2015); Villa Aurora Revisited, organizzata da Park View, Balice Hertling (New York, 2015); Cookie Gate, Ellis King (Dublino, 2015); Caught in the Act, Kriya 3000 (New York, 2015); My, My a Body does get around, Wilfried Lentz Gallery (Rotterdam, 2015); Lemon Leaves, Villa Aurora (Los Angeles, 2015). Tra le sovvenzioni ricevute: Hessiche Kulturstiftung (2020); Paris Studio Residency (2016); Villa Aurora Berlin Fellow (2015). Ha partecipato a diverse residenze: La cité internationale des arts (Parigi, 2020/2021); Eau et Gaz, Appiano sulla strada del vino (Italia, 2018); Villa Aurora Berlin Fellowship (Berlino, 2016); WIELS Residency Program (Bruxelles, 2014).


Renata Fabbri arte contemporanea is pleased to present In the Off Hours, the first solo exhibition in Italy by the artist Elif Erkan (b. 1985, Ankara, Turkey). On show, a series of new sculptural works which, accompanied by a video, draw attention to ecological and environmental sustainability issues.

By means of a process-oriented approach, Elif Erkan’s artistic practice looks into the emotional and psychological connotations that lie inside socio-economic, political and cultural structures of the contemporaneity. This affective and ever-changing dimension is at the core of the artist’s production, marked by the use of traditional sculptural materials combined with elements and iconographies of today’s consumerism and its addictions. Through repetitive gestures of imprinting, accumulation, and removal, Erkan acts expressively and spontaneously on the material she uses, leaving its irrational behavior, the faculty to generate mysterious and accidental objects. These objects, apparently contradictory but linked by a delicate organicity, hold and exalt in their state of “completion”, the trace of the transformative action of the artist, who defined their appearance, bringing about the vulnerable and transitory essence, hidden behind their illusory plastic solidity.

On the occasion of her first solo show, Erkan presents a group of new works which, influenced by a personal experience spent on a cruise ship, questions the presumed environmental sustainability of the tourist shipping companies – boasted as being a primary corporate responsibility. Exhibited on the gallery walls, are a series of sculptures realized with a biodegradable plasticine and chromatically allusive to the dangerous and at the same time vital nature of the sea. Obtained by casting packaging molds or even using fragments of billboards – found on board with the aim of boosting the passengers’ and the employees’ environmental awareness – these ambiguous artifacts reveal the hypocrisy of a system masked by alluring promises: aimed at economic profit at the expense of safeguarding the environment.

In dialogue with the works on the wall, several stalagmitic-shaped sculptures are dispersed on the floor and made of a mixture of clay, gypsum and cement. They seem to convey us into the sea abyss, into the recesses of planet earth, into the incessant, silent and opulent flow of global waste. Chained to each other, they characterize the exhibition spaces, simulating – through their divisional and maze-like structure – the tourists’ long waiting times in queues before embarking. Thus suspended, like in states of “potential activation”, the works on display – accompanied by a video of intimate and participatory dimension – invite the spectators to meditate on the value of a temporality which, limited by commitments and restrictions, can force them to think critically about the world. A kind of interval during which it is possible to experience a different thinking.

Elif Erkan (b. 1985, Ankara, Turkey) lives and works in Vienna. She holds an MFA from Otis College or Art and Design, Los Angeles, USA (2016) and HfBK Städelschule Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Recent solo show include: Where you they form, The Pill (Istanbul, 2020), What is that possesses me, Weiss Berlin (Berlin, 2018), Ex Oriente Lux, Park View (Los Angeles, 2016); Lotus Eaters, Weiss Berlin (Berlin, 2016); Standards for Living, Maison des Arts, (Brussels, 2015), Konzentration der Kräfte, Portikus, (Frankfurt, 2015). She took part in several group shows worldwide including: Biennale Sculpture Garden, curated by Devrim Bayar (Geneve, 2022) Desilusionarium V, Night Gallery (Los Angeles, 2021), What Remains Is What The Poets Found, PS120 (Berlin, 2018); Work Loves Me, Lanserhaus, Appiano sulla strada della vino (Italy, 2018), LA Should Die Vor Glück, Just Married (Alhambra/Los Angeles, 2017); The New Normal, Ashkal Alwan (Beirut, 2017); Paroxysm of Union, Kunsthalle Freeport Union (Athens, 2017); The New Normal, Supa Salon (Istanbul, 2017); We remember it for you wholesale, CTA Building, Sydney (Australia, 2017); Cum-Ex, Kunsthalle Freeport Union (Berlin, 2017); We remember it for you wholesale, Part II, Minerva (Sydney, 2017); Home, Night Club (Chicago, Illinois, USA 2016); Capital. Debt, Territory, Utopia, Hamburger Bahnhof, (Berlin, 2016); Gut Instinct, The Gluckman Museum (Cork, IR, 2016); The Social Register, Park View (Los Angeles, 2015); A Possible Collection, Honolulu (Zurich, 2015), Career Woman, Holz Kohle Koks (Berlin, 2015), Villa Aurora Revisited, organized by Park View, Balice Hertling (New York, 2015); Cookie Gate, Ellis King (Dublin, 2015); Caught in the Act, Kriya 3000 (New York, 2015); My, My a Body does get around, Wilfried Lentz Gallery (Rotterdam, 2015); Lemon Leaves, Villa Aurora (Los Angeles, 2015). She is the recipient of numerous grants including: Hessiche Kulturstiftung (2020), Paris Studio Residency (2016) Villa Aurora Berlin Fellow (2015). Relevant residencies include: La cité internationale des arts (Paris, 2010/2021); Eau et Gaz, Appiano sulla strada del vino (Italy, 2018); Villa Aurora Berlin Fellowship (Berlin, 2016); WIELS Residency Program (Brussels, 2014).

Renata Fabbri arte contemporanea
Via Antonio Stoppani 15/c, Milano
+ 39 02 42449047, info@renatafabbri.it, www.renatafabbri.it
Orari: martedì – sabato 15.30 – 19.30, lunedì su appuntamento
Ingresso gratuito

Immagine di copertina: Elif Erkan, Pot, 2021, cornstarch, vinegar, mineral oil, iron oxide, elmers glue, parsley, 11 x 18 x 12,6 cm. Courtesy the artist and Renata Fabbri arte contemporanea, Milan. Photo: Peter Trykar.
Ufficio stampa: Sara Zolla