As an artist, Ayşe Erkmen is destined to discover the potential of empty spaces and walls and place spectators in front of them. Because Erkmen can create a masterpiece by using empty spaces and walls. The space is an experience for her.
While Erkmen interrogates the social, economic, historical and architectural background of concepts by using space, she uncovers the connection between space and time. Erkmen continues to render the hidden meanings of space she works in with her ephemeral, volatile site-specific sculptures.
Erkmen’s works create transitions between identities and ideas while she works on empty spaces and walls. She connects the physical space with the mental concepts. She produces works that emphasize thought and add new dimensions to the perception of time.
Her current work at Istanbul’s Rampa Gallery, “On its own,” is yet another large-scale installation that Erkmen applied to empty space and white walls. However, this time instead of questioning the situation, Erkmen chooses to focus on her own identity and perception of it on Internet.
The installation is conceived around online image banks that one can no longer determine who has compiled or how they have been structured. When one types the artist’s name in the search engine and clicks the “images” link, in a matter of seconds the engine returns thousands of images listed page after page. The first few pages feature current entries and images directly corresponding to the artist and her work. Gradually results become less and less pertinent and the images that turn up can only be connected to the artist’s name in another context. Similar images are sorted and sequenced differently in different browsers such as “Safari” or “Firefox” at different times. While there may be statistical differences on different days, the search results may also vary with geography and borders.
Erkmen also focuses on the different countries and how the perception of her existence changes in one country to another: A computer in Turkey might yield different results from one in Germany.
The uncontrollable and unknown nature of the Internet and its usage let the artist to pose the questions: Who is behind this system? Who put the images on the “net” in the first place? Who, apart from the official website authorized by the artist, linked them up again? Who operates in the background of this fascinating yet perpetually changing thus evidently unreliable archive and to what purpose?
In her new work “On its Own,” deriving from all these questions, Erkmen works with images linked to her name on the Internet and creates an anonymous “self-portrait” by rescuing these images from their digital context.
Borrowing and renting in Erkmen’s works
Borrowing and renting, recurring themes in Erkmen’s works, once again find a monumental application in “On Its Own.”
When she took pictures and images from data banks and installed them outside the Kunsthalle Recklinghousen building in 1997 for her exhibition titled “i-ma-ges,” Erkmen also challenged the meanings of “borrowing and renting” concepts in the daily language.
The same approach can be seen in Erkmen’s new work. However, this time, “renting and borrowing” concepts conjure the reality behind the artist’s own identity that each person can discover on the Internet’s data banks.
Erkmen decentralizes herself with reflecting her own images to the audiences. This somehow creates a compatible situation with her own situation. Always between two countries, the Turkish-born, Germany-based artist opens a new dialogue in her existence in two countries.
Cleverly exploiting herself, Erkmen’s usage of space interrogates her personal history, but once again she let viewers to question: Is this story a real one or only a imaginary that we can only reach on the Internet?