Goldsmiths Curatorial Critique

An afternoon tea chat with Burcu Yagcioglu

Posted in Reviews by mingjiuntsai on November 10, 2009

This was not a studio visit. The preparation for this meeting was more like a ladies’ afternoon tea chat rather than a studio visit. I did not even leave my house.

It’s a sunny afternoon, and home-bake chocolate muffins are sitting on the tea table. Burcu’s compliments on the house and muffins make the meeting more and more like a ladies’ home visiting. The conversation starts officially from showing the images of the exhibition space in Taiwan.  The gallery space in the Everspring Museum of Fine Art is on the first floor of the building. The huge French window and the dormer, which brings a lot of natural light into the space, is one of the features of the space. No plastering with the exposed form of the wall and floor is another feature of it. Burce loves it and is excited about exploring a new region.

When she brings out the small DVD player with a screen, once again, we become two friends enthusiastically discussing about how convenient it is and the difference between having a player and a laptop. However, business has to continue. I have seen the images of the installation view of her new video installation Subtitles of a Ghost’s Humiliations and Pleasures. Now, with my imagination connecting the video with the installation, I can almost feel the uncomfortably depressive atmosphere in the hotel room, where the work exhibited. While watching the video and waiting the impression of ‘please touch’ on her back to go away, I only wish the time can pass sooner. It’s not because I don’t like the video, but because the uncanny feeling. On the other hand, the second video creates an absolutely different sensation. Untitled is a one-minute video that records the process of a hair being pulled out of the skin, and somehow, I feel it very funny instead of irritating.

I apologize for my silly giggling reaction of the work. She laughs and says that she actually understands why I think it’s funny. While folding the DVD player, I ask about her idea of the show, yet she throws the question back to me and wants me to talk more about my initial thought of the title of the exhibition. ‘The Tender Touch’ addresses my idea of her practice of drawings, paintings, videos and installations. For me, her practice looks very feminine. It has the gentle and submissive impression, yet the sensitive, delicate approach expresses a tough concept in her works. Hence, ‘tender’ indicates the impression of her works, and ‘touch’ is an active movement from her. In a way, in my eyes, her works are like her, very graceful but always has a strong attitude about her idea or position, no matter as a female, an artist or a student. Burcu keeps smiling while I am trying to articulate my thoughts on her practice. Continuing, I say that sometimes I am like this as well, being gentle but having a tough character. ‘Yes, I think so.’ So she speaks. ‘I have the feeling for you too, and yes, that’s what I want my artworks show – gentle yet contain forceful messages. I really like the idea “touch,” but we can discuss about the term “gentle” more.’ Until now, I realise that it is a destiny to have this meeting as a ladies’ tea talk because we are two professional ladies sharing each other’s thoughts. ‘Sure, it’s just my initial thought, and it’s not grammatically correct so we won’t use it just like that anyway’ I say to her.

It was a sunny afternoon, we kept the information that we had exchanged for the show and said goodbye, looking forward to the next teatime.

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