Yeşim Akdeniz's work is concerned with Orientalism, gender and queer studies as well as cultural appropriation. Primarily focused on painting, her work is infused with symbolic narratives that can be read as signs of cultural production, negotiation and appropriation. Akdeniz juxtaposes modernist objects such as designer furniture and architectural fragments as well as art-historical references and through this juxtaposition questions the attitudes and notions represented by modernism. Her new series Selfportrait as an Orientalist Carpet consists of three textile pieces with upholstery and clothing appliqués sewn onto them.The artist has stitched the fabric elements together in a lengthy process of manual labor. Quilted, superimposed fragments create a compositional fabric relief with protruding pockets, eyes, cubes and pumpkins. With connecting elements found on clothing, such as buttons, zippers and buckle straps, Akdeniz creates a symmetrical arrangement of geometric forms.The addition of the adjective orientalist is a reference to orientalism. Edward Said describes it as knowledge about the part of the world, designated as the East, that is produced by the west and used for the purpose of control and oppression.Set in this context, the artist addresses certain readings of her works and formulates them as a contestation of identity politics and power relations.Of particular interest here are the incorporated sleeves of men's suits - a uniformly conservative garment symbolic of privilege and capitalist relations of production and domination - as well as the fringes and borders that contrast directly with the invitingly soft, cushioned surface that promising softness and intimacy. Selfportrait as an Orientalist Carpet combines autobiographical moments with (art)- historical narratives that position questions of identity along with ascriptions and self-attributions as carriers of political structures.
From the exhibition 'MIRRORS AND WINDOWS' Sammlung Philara, Düsseldorf