14.09. – 21.10.23
Sophienstraße 21, Sophie-Gips-Höfe, 10178, Berlin
Pleats, or folds, turn the edge of a sheet in on itself—a manifestly two-dimensional plane becomes more, exceeding itself. Without gaining in surface or mass, we find it totally transformed. A cloth might hold the trace of the face beneath, a scrap of lead the potential to contain, where before water might have just run over it. Action holds the trace of human presence, as well as the desire to transform, if even for a moment. Pleats, rather than folds, also imply a certain permanence, a pressing type of hold rather than a temporary arrangement. Pleats presents the work of Hasan Aksaygın and Virgil b/g Taylor, held briefly together, representing and being folded objects.
Hasan’s project, The Veil, is a painting series with a short story that narrates and depicts a piece of cloth in its various folds and curves. One of the visual influences of this historical and spiritual speculation is the Catholic myth of the Veil of Veronica (or Sudarium, Latin for sweat-cloth, and known as Mandylion in Eastern Orthodoxy). This myth can be understood as the beginning of the distinct image-making tradition of Christianity as compared to other Abrahamic cultures. Parallel imagery can be found in depictions of the prophet in Islamic miniatures, but with his face veiled. In taking up the subject of the veil as an agent of both revelation and secrecy, Hasan explores certain genealogical representations of power, primarily “Western” power and its representational subtraction through today’s neoliberal “self-made panopticon”. To grasp this shift from a theocentric to an anthropocentric panopticon, Hasan observes the historical flow of images, starting with religious figures to monarchs, aristocrats to machine-holders, from the bourgeois to the modern upper-class, and finally to the so-called democratization of our selfie era, demarcating the highly normalized post-internet times of narcissistic self-representation. In doing so, his work also addresses the allegedly anti-colonial preservation of the radical conservatism of the “East”. Hasan’s pictorial and textual fiction explores the transgenerational roots of our contemporary and seemingly polarized scopic regimes, which actually go full circle and eventually coincide in the desires for both “exposure” and “concealment,” or “visibility” and “invisibility”.
Lead was used in the pipes that transported water in many cities of the Roman Empire. Small pieces were removed from the end of these pipes to inscribe spells to bind one’s fate: bent, bound, twisted, and delivered to sacred spots. These artifact spells convey a common secret language of the past to the present, and provide clues to our contemporary world. Today, lead sits heavy on the roofs of buildings or hides away in pipes running through streets and buildings older than anyone within them. When exposed to water already poisoned by industry, heavy atoms leach away, seeking out bodies to settle in, unevenly and unjustly so. But lead is useful as well: protecting patients from radiation, insulating sound, and connecting electronics. Lead is abject but vital, remediated yet still toxic. Virgil b/g Taylor’s works, collectively titled Heavy Body, are not curses, not spells, but the memory of them—a lesson in variant curvatures, an ancient metal in the present, teaching aesthetics of vitality or lethargy in which the sacred and profane, toxic and cured can mingle together.
—Hasan Aksaygın and Virgil b/g Taylor
Alongside the exhibition, Pleats, an event series, Folds, hosts Onur Çimen, Rapha Linden, Patty Nash, İz Öztat, and Ashkan Sepahvand, and will unfold as an activation of the familiar lines between the two bodies of work. At the invitation of the artists, their friends will read and tell stories around topics related to Pleats and Folds, touching upon the effects of spiritual traditions (Abrahamic or otherwise) on the bodies that materialize art today, and what veils and unveils them. After the unveiling of their spells, Hasan and Virgil will provide a site for new and old stories to sort themselves out.
Folds 2: 21.10.2023, 16:00
Hasan Aksaygın is a conceptual painter and a (para-)fictional storyteller from the occupied territories of Cyprus who explores the personal and collective, visual and textual subconscious.
Onur Çimen is a writer, who works on various modes of sharing texts/narratives.
Rapha Linden is a writer living in Berlin. They hold an MFA from New York University.
Patty Nash’s poems have appeared in DIAGRAM, Sixth Finch, West Branch, Oversound, and more. Her first book, Walden Pond, will be published by Thirdhand Press in Spring 2024.
İz Öztat explores the persistence of violent histories through forms, materials, space, and language. She responds to absences in official historiography through spectral, intergenerational, and speculative fictions. She fabricates the (auto)biography of Zişan (1894–1970), who appears to her as a historical figure, a ghost, and an alter ego.
Ashkan Sepahvand is an artist, writer, and researcher. He was born in Tehran, Iran, grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and lives and works mostly in Berlin, Germany. His practice takes time. His work includes publications, performances, and regular collaborations with friends. He is interested in words and bodies.
Virgil b/g Taylor makes fag tips, an online speculative zine. He is one-half of sssssssssSsss, a study-friendship with Ashkan Sepahvand. His work explores histories of care, crisis, exclusion, and toxicity.
BPA// Berlin program
for artists is an artist-run
mentoring program founded in 2016 by
Angela Bulloch, Simon Denny and Willem de Rooij. It facilitates exchange
between emerging and experienced Berlin-based artists through coordinated
studio visits and meetings. The program is funded by the Senate Department for
Culture and Community.
BPA// Raum is a platform for artistic exchange. It is operated by BPA// Berlin program for artists and organized by Sophia Yvette Scherer and Anna-Lisa Scherfose.
Poster: fag tips, Pleats, 2023
Design: Workout Services
Copy Editor: Jayne WilkinsonEditor: Anna-Lisa Scherfose