Saturday, October 20, 2012

Dear All,

Please visit EXTIMACY a solo show with new work on the 24th of October in Dubai with The Third Line gallery.

For more information

Press release

Some background

Eminent artist, Hayv Kahraman, returns to The Third Line with new work that tackles the
complex relationships between gender and identity constructs; geopolitical and
physiological boundaries; and, the perception of self vis-à-vis the demands of conformity
within society.

Six panels depicting women extracting a cross sectional slice of their own bodies encompass the
gallery space. Expanding on her previous series, Kahraman’s depictions of these women personify a
hybrid identity hinting to the affinity of dismembered bodies with fragmented geographical locations. This somewhat crude act of detaching a limb is also reminiscent of a violent uprooting and is revealed materialistically in the work. Manifested through the artist’s heterogeneous use of wood and rawhide, the artist forces an unnatural but seamless coexistence between mixed materials.

First explored in her work Quasicorporeal, Kahraman’s inspiration stems from her personal story and own segmented body scan, which she then applies throughout this body of work. Within this framework, she also includes two rawhide light-boxes in the show that depict a cross-sectioned anatomical slice. The violent and nonchalant aspect of plane sectioning a frozen cadaver speaks to a similar detachment and separation that occurs within people of a diaspora or in exile.

Kahraman further extrapolates this point through a 3 dimensional sculpture, namely the Möbius body. The structure, of no beginning and no end, aims to deconstruct binary notions of mind and body, male
and female, inside and outside; where hierarchy is created by one element inherently becoming the
subordinate of the other.

According to Kathy Davis, senior researcher at the Institute of History and Culture in Utrecht University, Kahraman’s interest in the female body transcends the aesthetic, prurient and even the
imperialist reason of study. The focus instead lies within “the body as an object for thinking critically about the place women occupy in societies around the world. These representations force us to rethink what it might mean for women to be embodied agents in a world that constantly threatens to dis-embody them”. As a result, we are forced to rethink social structures and push boundaries, which when merged, create “extimacy” – or “external intimacy”.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


ink on paper mounted on panel
size is 68"x68"

This work is essentially an infographic map of my body. Each of these tiles that are called "girth" tiles (discovered recently for their 5-fold symmetry and ability to tesselate on an infinite plane - they were also widely used in medieval Islamic architecture) contain a body part where a line radiates from each piece outwards. On the tip of each line a number is assigned based on the order in which each body piece should be placed to reconstruct the complete body in its entirety. i.e body part number 542 is the sole of the feet, body part number 541 is the next piece up etc until reaching body part number 1 which would be the tip of the head..   

The slices are derived from  a 3-dimensional scan of my entire body that was then cross sectioned into 1/4" horizontal slices.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Corporeal geometry?

A new obsession of mine is GEOMETRY, geometric solids and how they occupy our spatiality.

I'm working on an installation piece that stems from a further investigation of the new work I’ve been doing that essentially deals with the link of borders and divisions created geographically as well as corporally in the form of dissections.

To sum everything up; I'm working on building a dodecahedron which is a geometric shape that resembles a globe and is created by 12 pentagons. Whithin each pentagon I have asymetriclly neseted cross sectional pieces of my own body creating holes within that shape. This was achieved by a detailed 3D scanning of my entire body that was then horizontally cross sectioned into 1/4" pieces. The pieces amount to 541 organic shapes.

Why a dodecahedron?! well, this is where the link back to geographical maps come in! It's the most globe like of all 5 platonic solids whithin which the golden ratio is found. Did you know that dodecahdrons form naturally in crystals and flowers and that there is a new study done by a french astrophysists employing that our universe is shaped as a dodecahedron!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fragmented state

Fragmented state
3 gypsum torsos, sewn burlap with rise, charred wooden shoe lasts, wilted leather and chalk on floor
size of each torso 36x22x14" 2011

I'm very interested in the notion of space and spatiality both in terms of actual geographical location i.e looking at cartography and the power of maps, visually and socially but also realizing that our bodies occupy a space within themselves. The deconstruction of space, the separation of borders and the creation of boundaries occur in exterior or physical location but they also occur subjectively within our internal body space. This is how I became fascinated with the notion of external dismemberment as an expression of internal disassembly.

Capitalism,modernity, post-colonialism, migration and dispersion all take form in three-dimensional geographical landscapes and due to the explosive growth of transportation and communication technologies, our notions of space are being redefined. Fredric Jameson a literary critic claims that contemporary culture is 'increasingly dominated by space and spatial logic'. Territorial outlines, boundaries and margins are being created, erased or blurred on a military and personal scale. The use of map projections in the work represents this calculated, abstract, mappable and geometric space. They are mathematical representations of a 3D globe onto a 2D surface where the graticule (longitude and latitude lines) creates calculated, geometric patterns and shapes. I also chose to include map pins in the work as a direct association to maps and strategic war planning. Maps are very problematic as they can be tactical social constructions and instruments of power, as in the Mercator world projection where Europe's centrality is the priority. These defined spaces are inhabited by us "the subject" and are therefore reflected on us, our corporeal space.

Because of the inherent attachment of identity to spatial location (i.e. Our identities are formed based upon the place we are from and subsequently the places we occupy) when this link is broken we find ourselves in a fragmented and disconnected state. The dissected bodies act as semiotic representations of a fragmented territory/identity. A few works also examine anthropometric divisions or lines (based on measurements and proportions of the human body) that resemble in a direct way territorial divisions created on maps. The lines created from human hair (a reference to gender) and held together by map pins separate the limbs of the body and are the same lines separating countries.

The installation comprises three life size unidentifiable torsos placed strategically on the ground. They are all dissected in the abdomen and act as vessels or containers. By omitting the face and limbs these vessels become nameless and are reduced to temporal, mundane function. Conceptually referencing sand tables that are used in the military to rehearse action and reaction within synchronized movements in time and space across a battlefield, these torsos bring to mind little figurines or emblems that can strategically be moved around the field.

Each body carries a different material. Sewn burlap pieces with rise inside referencing transportation, trade and commerce. Wilted boxing gloves referencing worn flesh and corporeal limits. Also referring to the notion of games and sports mirroring sandtables and war games. Shoe lasts or molds that are wooden anatomical representation of feet used by shoemakers. In this case burned and charred as an outcry of dejection and mortality.

The torsos are made out of hydrocal, a gypsum plaster used in frescoes, artist's casts and medically to support broken/ damaged limbs. I have drawn the Peirce quincuncial map projection on the ground with chalk. I like the idea of calk being a fleeting medium that can be erased when walked on and is reminiscent of the transient nature of geographical borders. This can also refer to simulations of terrain on a sand table.

The paintings are paper mounted on wood and map pins with human hair. Inspiration of dissected figures was taken from Valverde (16th century) who strayed away from the norm of illustrative dissection at the time and created an uncanny violated representation of the body where his figures actively engaged in their own dissection. In this case the dissected area is filled with protruding map pins forming a calculated geometric pattern based on different map projections. The anthropometric figures on the other hand are inspirations of Durer's systemization of human proportions. Each map pin here serves as an anchor point to connect human female hair.

Corporeal Mappings

Corporeal Mappings
oil on mobile panels
199x199x12cm 2011

I developed the sliding puzzle with the intent to link this game with the plasticity of the malleable body. With the advent of todays medical or more specifically surgical advancements, our body has become more and more malleable and the idea of modification and alternation has gained a worldwide audience. We are now able to change and alter our flesh to conform to what we perceive as the ultimate ideal beauty.

Puzzles are learning tools that challenge our ingenuity and require recognizing patterns and creating order within them. Sliding puzzles are panels to be configured to create a final coherent image. The separation of the individual panels creates a deconstruction in the final image that reflects the common dualistic psychology of today as in mind/body or feminine/masculine etc. The attempt of actively assembling these separated panels into a coherent image transcends the Cartesian dualism of mind versus body and the obsession of control.

This piece focuses on the corporeal aspect of gender and body modification where these women are excessively altering each other in a never-ending cycle of a deranged path to an unattainable utopia.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Shortlisted for the Victoria and Albert museum's Jameel prize
Visit the V&A

I will be showing a new piece titled "Asad Babil"

Oil on panel
96"x70"- 244 cm x 178 cm

Inspired by Neo-Assyrian reliefs of lions and men in perpetual battle, this painting depicts a humiliated lion riddled with arrows, regurgitating intricately folded poker-sized playing cards that are reproductions of large paintings from the Waraq series reflecting characters of the Iraqi diaspora

The work parallels Mesopotamian motifs as well as events from Iraqi political history. During the first gulf war, Saddam Hussein developed a battle tank he named Asad Babil, or the Lion of Babylon. Utterly outclassed by the American forces it was ironically named after an ancient basalt monument depicting a man being trampled by a lion.

By interweaving significant historical scenarios this piece is a manifestation of the pandemonium and depression that arise from a tragic loss of solidarity in thought and culture.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Al Malwiya
constructed from 1800 individually sewn poker sized playing cards that are reproductions of large scale paintings on wood.
153 cm in diameter and approximately 4 meters high.