VITAMIN T: THREADS AND TEXTILES IN CONTEMPORARY ART
Size: 290 x 250 mm (11 3/8 x 9 7/8 in)
Pages: 304 pp
Illustrations: 520 illustrations
Jenelle Porter was formerly senior curator at ICA Boston and curator at ICA Philadelphia and is author of numerous publications and essays on contemporary art and craft.
“…Explores a different corner of the art world, fiber art… There is much tactile work to discover.”—The New York Times“A textural and textural delight in and of itself… Essential reading for anyone even remotely interested in the power and potential of the materials that surround us on a daily basis.”—The Essential Journal
Güneş Terkol’s works are shaped by the place she lives in, the social conditions and relationships she is
involved with, the images she encounters, her personal history and the materials she finds. In her works, she
transforms her sketches and a search for a means of expression other than painting into her works produced
with found-textiles. With black outlines formed by needlework, or by drawing directly onto cloth, she
creates figures of ambiguous space and time. With animal-like human figures, or figures that have been
removed from their context or drawn from the artist’s past and imagination, she creates stories with no
beginning or end. Terkol often begins to construct her works beginning with the cloth she will use, or with
the space in which the work will be exhibited. For instance, sometimes the frame, or length of the story, is
determined by how many pieces of cloth she has found, its size, its texture, or its colour. By combining the
visuals she encounters with figures from her past she carries out research on her own process. The
ambiguous borders of her works invite the viewer to shed his/her passive stance to assume the role of the
Another significant source of inspiration for Terkol’s personal artistic production is her collective work,
where she explores diverse collaborations and non-conventional production environments. In addition to her
joint actions with feminist activists and the performances she takes part in as a member of the artists’
initiative Ha Za Vu Zu, the placards she has recently produced in workshops present impressive examples of
producing collective work that retains individual narratives in a collective conceptual process. The most
important aspect of these cloth-placards that are created in a joint production process is that they provide
women with rooms in which to express themselves. In her personal works, the artist challenges reified and
commoditized images of women and criticizes patriarchal society; using cloth-placards, she shares the stage
with the women she works with and creates a space for their voices to be heard. By selecting a different
group, asking a different question or forming a different network of relations each time she organizes a
workshop, Terkol forms a multilayered structure. Her preference for cloth as a material and sewing as a
technique -a well-known language of women’s productivity- is a step towards the reconstruction of the
secret history of women’s productivity, enabling the women participating in the workshop to freely shape
their own rooms.
The work titled “The Song of Women” is the outcome of a workshop held in Antakya in 2010 with women
whose husbands were working in Middle Eastern countries. This is a significant work not only because it
was the first placard-project for which Terkol worked with women; but also because the women who
contributed to the project had not received an opportunity to express themselves in the public sphere before.
These women see their husbands for only a month annually, however, this situation has been normalized in
the region; and for the first time they are asked what they feel and think about this, and what their dreams for
the future are. This placard is, in fact, a song for migrant workers, who are subjected to the flawed practices
of global economy and industrialization, and for their families who have been left behind. In the placard she
designed, Terkol places a pastoral landscape above the figure of a lion, inspired by the city of Antakya.
Figures of women, with no clear identity, are situated within this landscape, and the artist invites the women
involved in the project to add their dreams and messages to the flags the women in the image are carrying.
The images of vehicles such as coaches and trucks, and figures of flying men that surround the main
composition emphasize the constant process of waiting that dominates the lives of these women.
“A Placard for An Afternoon”, made in Istanbul in 2011, was created as a significantly different thought and
production process. The work was produced as part of a violence-against-women workshop organized by
open call and aimed at the sharing of experiences. The placard was created after intense debates with the
women various aspects and the normalization of violence. In the work, women with distinct facial features in
front of an urban background carry placards protesting against the patriarchal regime and male violence.
Terkol realized her third placard titled “Dreams on a River” during her residency in China with women
artists. This time, Terkol defines zones of freedom for, and multiplies the voices of, women who are involved
in a struggle for visibility in a male-dominant contemporary art environment. Identical female figures carry
balloons of their dreams that spring out of their hearts, where they reflect their own subjectivity on ships
sailing on a river in front of an undefined city panorama. The river that runs through the city of Chongqing
flows with dreams the women have imagined only through visuals.
The final placard, titled “Chromatic Kites” is a work produced in collaboration with women from Turkey
who have settled in Berlin at different times. Women, represented in black silhouette, relate their life
experiences as they float over buildings with kites in their hands.
Güneş Terkol designs the visual of each placard according to its social and spatial structure, and displays the
placards ‘as they are’, in their natural state. She also renders the process visible by including the names of
participants in the credits, by exhibiting workshop documentation and photographs, or by leaving the ends of
threads in the placards loose. This transforms the viewer from a pure consumer of meaning into an actor
producing meaning. By forming a space for women to express their opinions and voice their dreams,
sorrows and criticisms, these four placard-pieces make the layers of the dominant patriarchal regime visible.
Each work visualizes a different sociological structure and the society of oppression they live in via the
expressions of women. This interactive process in which women reimagine their past, their future and their
modes of existence also transforms Terkol’s artistic production and her artistic identity. As unique
experiences where the individual is retained in its entire subjectivity in the collective thought and production
process, the words of women are inscribed in our memory.
Kitap Konsept & Tasarım | Book Concept & Design Ece Eldek
Metinler | Texts Bige Örer, Ali Akay, Sibel Erdamar
Fotoğraflar | Photographs Mesut Güvenli, Deniz Koloğlu,
Nazlı Erdemirer, Çoşku Atalay, Serkan Tunç, Berkutay Günel,
Savaş Boyraz, Zeynep Beler, Emin Yu
Son Okuma | English Proofreading Melissa Larner
Baskı Adedi | Copies 500
Baskı Öncesi Hazırlık, Renk Ayrımı ve Baskı
Pre-Press, Colour Separation and Printing Umur Basım