“Sisters of Persephone” @ Leica Gallery İstanbul
Leica Gallery Istanbul is pleased to host the exhibition “Sisters of Persephone” by Anni Leppälä and Nazif Topçuoğlu which will run from December 16, 2017 to March 3, 2018.
The exhibition takes its name from the poem “Two Sisters of Persephone” written by Sylvia Plath, one of the most admired poets of the 20th century. The two women portrayed in the poem, its references in Sylvia Plath’s own life and in the mythological story of Persephone (Greek Goddess, the kidnapped queen of the underworld) all connect with the women’s internal and external dilemmas that have been constant since time immemorial, in mythological and religious tales, art history, literature and of course today.
Anni Leppala takes a personal look at these different characters within a woman through her own experiences and literary references, whereas Nazif Topçuoğlu points to the issues in the Turkish society through art historical visual quotations and occasional biblical stories.
Anni Leppälä’s site-specific installations are made up of photographs that freeze time and oscillate between dream and reality. Each of her work can be a word that connects to the rest of the sentence, which becomes a fictional story or a poem in the end. Leppälä finds inspiration in various sources, such as the poems of the Finnish poet Edith Södergran and Finnish classical music. In literature she is especially interested in the letters of Rainer Maria Rilke and his remark of the "Weltinnenraum" ("worlds inner space") where the inner and outer realities meet suddenly through a vast, expanding and timeless experience.
The starting point for her works has been a small old house belonging to her relatives, now left abandoned, which was built in the mid-20th century. Later on, she also photographed in local museums from different centuries. Leppälä has always been interested in how memories are made, lost or preserved at the moment when a photograph is taken. Leppälä was a finalist in The Leica Oskar Barnack Award in 2015.
The settings of Nazif Topçuoğlu, which are like "tableaux vivants" staged in the 19th century, represent the real-life experiences of educated Turkish girls who may assume masculine roles. With his provocative scenes, the artist challenges the patriarchal codes in the society.
He explores how knowledge, sexuality and art affects the adolescent girl and how curiosity can be seen as a threat to the established order. While reviewing the past, he makes references to classical paintings, religious stories and pre-eminent authors such as Marcel Proust and Thomas Mann. Topçuoğlu assigns the role of a judge sometimes to one of his characters, sometimes to the viewer in the court room like scenes that he stages.
“Sisters of Persephone” invites the audience to perceive beyond the image of woman both in the photographs and in real life. Leica Gallery İstanbul would like to thank Gallery Taik Persons in Berlin (representing Anni Leppälä) and Galeri Nev in İstanbul (representing Nazif Topçuoğlu) for their support of this exhibition.
Anni Leppälä (b.1981, Finland)
Leppälä lives and works in Helsinki. She studied photography at the Arts Academy at Turku University of Applied Sciences (BA) and at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki (MA). Her work has been exhibited internationally since 2006, including group exhibitions at Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (Japan, 2006), Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg (Germany, 2009), Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (Spain, 2011), Les Rencontres d’Arles (France, 2012) and Scandinavia House (USA, 2013).
Some of her recent solo shows took place at Kunstverein Schwäbisch Hall (Germany, 2017), Le Centre d´art GwinZegal (France, 2016), Ghent Photo Festival - St Peter’s Abbey (Belgium, 2015), Turku Art Museum (Finland, 2014), Galerie Les Filles du Calvaire (France, 2014), Purdy Hicks Gallery (UK, 2014), Gallery Taik Persons (Germany, 2016), AMA Gallery (Finland, 2013), Barbara Gross Galerie (Germany, 2011) and Gallery TH13 (Switzerland, 2011). In 2010, she received The Finnish Young Artist Award and Tampere Art Museum presented her first comprehensive museum exhibition and published a book. Works of Leppälä are included in the collections of The Finnish Museum of Photography, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, EMMA - Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Deutsche Bank Collection, Teutloff Photo Collection and Fondation d’entreprise Hermès.
Nazif Topçuoğlu (Turkey, 1953)
Nazif Topçuoğlu completed two master’s degrees; first in architecture at the Middle Eastern Technical University (Turkey) in 1978 and then in photography at the Institute of Design, Chicago (USA). Coming back to Turkey, he taught in universities and worked as a consultant for Pamukbank Gallery of Photography. He also worked as an independent advertorial photographer. In the late 1990s Topçuoğlu focused more on his own art production. His solo shows took place in Kunst:raum - Sylt Quelle (Germany, 2005), Flatland Gallery (Holland, 2006, 2008, 2009), Green Art Gallery (Dubai, 2009, 2010, 2012), Gallery Nev - Istanbul and Ankara - (Turkey, 1990, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2013).