Once upon a time…, a new installation by the pioneer of Turkish contemporary and conceptual art, Füsun Onur, will be presented at the Pavilion of Turkey at the 59th International Venice Biennale. Commissioned and produced by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) and realised with the contribution of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey, the exhibition is curated by Bige Örer and will be held between April 23 and November 27, 2022.
Füsun Onur has pushed the boundaries of painting and sculpture for more than half a century, giving form to her art through instinct and intuition and creating a language beyond time. Uninterested in dominant art-world trends, Onur has continued to produce delicate and discreet works for decades, made from simple, everyday materials charged with autobiographical references. A highly influential figure in contemporary art scene in Turkey, she has a global presence but has been under-recognised in the international art world. Her practice, which can be understood through the lens of feminist art history, draws on her private life and employs traditional and domestic media, such as weaving and textiles.
In Once upon a time…, Onur tells an evocative story using a minimalist approach and silent intimations of music, turning a critical eye on the contemporary condition and inevitably the pandemic, both of which pose threats to the future of the world. Onur depicts a struggle waged by cats and mice, united against the governing logics of anthropocentrism, which harms nature and the planet by arrogantly ruling over them. Figures made by bending and twisting metal wire dance, make music, travel, and fall in love. While some are suspended in space, others seem to re-enact a fairy tale or fable with their ping-pong-ball heads and colourful clothes made from crepe paper. Devised like the scenes of a stage play, the installation opens the door onto a new and exciting world. In a time when everyone’s life has been turned upside down, when all known truths are being questioned, Onur once again casts aside all expectations to establish her own scale, offering a masterwork about conceiving alternative worlds, creating new languages, learning from nonhumans, and loving and living together.