Pera Museum, in collaboration with Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), is one of the main venues for this year’s 15th Istanbul Biennial from 16 September to 12 November 2017.
Through the biennial, we will be sharing detailed information about the artists and the artworks.
There is a link between external historical realities and interior domestic space: architecture, personal objects, design and functional arrangements and layouts all manifest specific personal histories and political moments. For the Istanbul Biennial, Andra Ursuta is showing two maquette-like sculptural works.
Using everyday materials such as wood, glass, metal and fabric she has created miniature replicas, each housed in a glass case, of rooms in her childhood home on T. Vladimirescu street in the village of Salonta, Romania. Details such as decorative emblems, distinctive furniture and personal effects give the works a naturalistic quality, yet the absence of people is ominous in these spaces for habitation, conversation and repose.
In T. Vladimirescu Nr. 5, Sleeping Room (2013), we can make out two small beds, an oven, a chair and a tapestry affixed to the wall, yellowed like ageing wallpaper. T.
Vladimirescu Nr. 5, Pantry (2013), comprises a small table and simple bench, a ladder and refrigerator, as well as some devices for hanging food. Conspicuously, there are no actual foodstuffs visible in this pantry.
The works do not directly reveal what transpired in Romania during this period, but in the 1980s – before the revolution in 1989 – Romania experienced a severe rationing policy of food and utilities under the regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu, giving way to public uproar and rioting. The titles of Ursuta’s works reflect the personal functional spaces of the home, but even these are inflected by historical realities: nationalism hovers over the name of Ursuta’s childhood street – Tudor Vladimirescu was then regarded as a Romanian revolutionary hero. While the works are fastidiously detailed and assembled with attentive faithfulness, they point to notions of home as biographical fictions, informed by memory, blurred reminiscences, reformulation and the imbrication of history with fiction.