IB Visual Arts Exhibition: Zeynep Ak

My ideas started with an image that I visualized while listening to music. It was the duet of a string quartet and a percussionist, playing two different pieces “The Old Istanbul” and “The New Istanbul”. As I heard the harmony of the eastern and western tunes, I started to think about Istanbul’s in-and-between evolution over time. It felt like walking a tightrope over the city, seeing all the historical texture from a birds-eye and experiencing the rope swaying up and down with my heartbeat synchronized with the beats of the Doumbek. This brainstorming made me realize that I usually use the image of a rope to visualize my feelings and emotions. Therefore, I decided to have the common element of rope in my artworks rather than a central theme. I used rope for the metaphoric depictions of some different situations
that I have been into. Like a rope made of many twisted strings, I thought to use each of the ropes in the artworks with a different message and theme symbolizing a section of my life, and in the end, combine all the strings to constitute the rope of my entire life.

The rope in the first painting was symbolizing my past with the hanged traditional carpet and my future with the unknown darkness. As the feet go away from the carpet, it describes to exploring new cultures and experiences. In the second work, the rope represents the undesired responsibilities to adapt to the society that is impossible to get away.  The third work stands for the unfulfilled expectations, like in The Dinner of Trimalchio, moments that start with pleasure end with pain. The rope in the last work symbolizes the obstacles restricting freedom. However, the power of creativity, showed with the shadows, overcomes the obstacles. 

Since each piece had a different message, I used different techniques -such as watercolor, acrylic, and sculpture- that would support the mood and the atmosphere of the artwork the most. 

The exhibition is held at a dark room illuminating the works with colored lights. Hence, I used light as a visual effect to make shadows falling on the pieces, and creating a deeper and more realistic sense on the audience. Moreover, the lights led me to canalize the focus of the audiences on the more illuminated parts and helped me convey the message.

1- Barefoot

Acrylic on canvas

35×50 cm

The hanging carpet on the rope symbolizes my home, and past because of the cultural motifs on the carpet. The background of the forepart of the rope is black and empty, indicating that I am going towards an unknown in the future with barefoot, meaning defenseless; and the rope that I am walking on will be harder since the carpet will no longer be there to soften my steps. In this work, the rope symbolizes my growth over time and it also connects my past and the future.

2- Ghost

Wood, cloth, rope

6x15x30 cm

Although this work looked like a shroud and created a negative atmosphere at first glance, the main thing I tried to explain was acceptance. Under the white fabric surrounded by rope, it seems as if there is a human figure who wants to get rid of everything on it. Here the rope shows our responsibilities from the moment we were born to be accepted by society. When we remove these responsibilities, a ghost is left with a white fabric. At this point, what I accept is that if we do not want to be a ghost in the society, we can never avoid some of the responsibilities reminding that we are still alive and we are there.

3- Sleepysand

Plaster, epoxy, modeling clay, wooden sticks, shells, acrylic

10x20x25 cm

When the fisher’s anchor gets in the beach’s eye, it awakens the beach. As the beach stretches, the fisherman is drawn deep into the water. The rope used in this work symbolizes the unfulfilled expectations.

4- Silhouette

Watercolor on paper

70×100 cm

A multi-layered image has emerged as the hand, butterfly wings and butterfly body are drawn on different pieces of paper and presented in different planes. The image is deepened by the shadows of the hand falling on the wing of the butterfly. While the rope in the work expresses the restrictions of the freedoms of people and the obstacles encountered, the butterfly figure created with shadow in the background shows that there could always be a solution.