İnci Eviner

1955 | Polatlı, Turkey
— İnci Eviner

Turkish visual artist.

Trained as a painter at the Istanbul Academy of Fine Arts, İnci Eviner has always used drawing as a point of departure, formally and conceptually. In her artistic practice, spanning over forty years, Eviner’s increasingly layered constellations of objects, images, sounds, performances, videos and situations have most been hosted in architectural structures that mimic the labyrinthine vision of her drawings.
İ. Eviner’s exploration of the subject as an ever-changing, permeable entity has led her to delve into the tenuous nature of representation. The intimate scrutiny of the female body in her practice stems from a conflicted gaze, constantly negotiating the imminence of death, constructing a fragile structure for her webs of images and mark-making. İ. Eviner challenges familiarity through her persistent upheavals of form – the self-contained nature of her visual universe calls attention to the need for strength to bear witness to the world today.

As part of the 13th Istanbul Biennial, which took place a few months after the Gezi protests, in 2013, İ. Eviner worked collaboratively with a group of forty student artists to conduct a forty-day performative research on a stage she constructed at the Galata Greek School, which visitors could view from the mezzanine (Co-Action Device, 2013). The artist, who has been a teacher throughout her artistic practice, underscored the integrated nature of her work by creating a framework in which research was conducted in semi-permeable sections, a self-reflexive gesture of setting up co-learning as a performance, articulating publicly a shared space.
İ. Eviner’s video Harem (2009) takes on the fetishising gazes onto the East and the unseen space of the Harem to dissolve renditions of gestures, movements and bodies, seemingly moving in compulsive manners. Her treatment of the different levels in a Antoine-Ignace Melling drawing –Scènes de la vie quotidienne à l’intérieur du harem (1804) – to unpack the Cartesian treatment of a fantasy space inherently hosts the tension between the imagination and pictorial representation that İ. Eviner seeks to unpack with her works. Through the looping video, a spectral image and movement linger, reinforcing the distance between seeing and knowing.

In 2019 İ. Eviner represented Turkey at the Venice Biennial with her installation We, Elsewhere, taking Hannah Arendt’s 1943 essay “We Refugees” as a starting point. Particularly of interest for İ. Eviner was H. Arendt’s notion that people are losing the spontaneity of their relationship with the world. Collaboratively working with dancers and musicians to create a fully immersive space that included multiple architectural layers, the artist pointed to the staging innate to the structure of a national pavilion. İ. Eviner explored the potential of the individual to merge somewhere with the we, tracing that space with images and objects that palpitated with the transformative potential of the presence of the audience.
İ. Eviner’s work is held in collections including Arter and Istanbul Modern Museum in İstanbul; musée national d’Art moderne – Centre Georges-Pompidou in Paris; Guggenheim Museum in New York; and TBA21 Wien in Vienna.
She was the subject of a retrospective exhibition Who’s Inside You? at Istanbul Modern Museum, in 2016, and among her solo exhibitions are Harem, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2009), Broken Manifestos, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris (2011) and Runaway Girls, The Drawing Center, New York (2015).

Merve Ünsal

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