İpek Duben Angels and Clowns
Ipek Duben’s new work Angels and Clowns at Pi Artworks Istanbul looks at excesses, paradoxes, fantasies and divine myths in contemporary life in the post-truth era.
“I gaze with tears and smiles on the condition of humanity in our post-truth, post-fact, post-faith era. I am part of it and yet a distanced observer. What can I do? What should I do? Carrying on with my usual habits and these questions on my mind I came to think of clowns and angels, beings that are at once like us and unlike us. In their state of liminality they are with us while forever observing us at a distance. I sensed that these marginal creatures would understand my notions of goodness and truthfulness, my state of perplexity, my sense of irony and critical consciousness. I decided to travel the world with them.” - Ipek Duben
İpek Duben’s solo show Angels and Clowns at Pi Artworks İstanbul will be running between 12 March and 25 April 2020. The artist holds an important place in the art world with her works on identity, gender, migration and memory which have contributed significantly to the local and global contemporary art scene. Her new work Angels and Clowns is built around the denial of reality in the face of growing moral decadence, material inequality, natural disasters and consequent wars and massive migration around the world.
The Angels and Clowns series consists of postcards which the artist has collected during her travels and transformed into mini paintings with ‘clowns,’ which represent sarcasm, irony and questioning, and ‘angels’ which keep track of right and wrong-doings in their role as ambassadors of divine justice. In these works, they play their roles with humor and seriousness in reference to their functions and duties in social life. In today’s world where fundamental conditions of human existence are no longer guaranteed, Duben’s show constitutes a social critique which raises our consciousness and also promises hope.
İpek Duben’s ongoing interest in social and political issues and her use of text, iconography and various formats and mediums is again evidenced in Angels and Clowns. Duben’s love for irony also continues here, referencing her installations LoveBook and LoveGame (1998-2000) where love and violence are ironically interwoven, and Thinking Garbage (video, with Nancy Atakan, 2005) where the focus is on humans turning into waste in our era of technological revolution. She used the postcard medium in her earlier multimedia work What is a Turk? (2004) as racism or discrimination transfer object through ethnic identities.
In Children of Paradise (2000-2011) the artist criticizes excessive consumption with cupids flying over and climbing around piles of consumer products, foods, gadgets, entertainment objects as they drift into the delirium of consumption. In Angels and Clowns, both helpless and hopeful cupids station themselves around negative social realities trying to help and to warn humans who may be oblivious to their threatening surroundings. In each case Duben’s focus is on the human condition.