Sunday, September 21, 2008
Body of Flesh: Pinar Yolacan's portraits
Age is violence. It is violence as in: power, and it is violence as the inevitable overpowering.
The women on the pictures from the Perishables series (2004) by Pinar Yolacan wear this age in a way that brings about strong feelings. Disgust? Humiliation? But why? Why is wearing meat so shocking? We do get it - the meat is just a continuation of what we are, it is as sacred or as profane as we wish to see it. So why does it seem so intensly profane? Why is it revolting?
The women on the pictures don't seem embarrassed. To the contrary - they know who they are. And they know how deep is skin-deep. And possibly because of their incredibly stoic stance, we reach another point - of acceptance, of peace.
There is a wisdom in these wrinkles that seems unbearably right. And beyond the purity of light, may I add - there is also pain.
The exceptional thing is - this pain is distinguished. And if you think it's because the subjects were WASPs, see Pinar Yolacan's the Maria series (2007).
Here are women from the Bahia region in Brasil, which was colonized by the Portuguese. And here, the flesh changes its value: it is not about age any more, but rather, about distinction and pride, but also submission and humiliation, about the color of skin and the heaviness of the-object-that-thinks. Maria is the most common Portuguese name - and in Brasil nearly every woman has Maria as one of her names. It is also a reference to the Virgin Mary, a reference that here challenges our thinking about holiness. Look at this raw, dark flesh, and see the purity.
It seems to me Yolacan does not really have a statement that guides her work (interview with the artist here). Vanitas. Possibly. But I'd rather see her as a researcher - she investigates what the matter - the flesh - can tell her, where it can lead her. And this very intuitive, "non-rational" way of working is something I cherish. Because if you listen carefuly, your own sensitivity will embrace the matter in such a way that, once it is done, the work might speak the thousand words you never knew you had.