The Tale of Sitare
Tasarim Bakkali presents a solo show by artist and curator Sheyda A. Khaymaz. The exhibition consists of a culmination of research during Khaymaz’s residency at TAB, Tasarim Bakkali’s newly launched artist-in-resident programme. “Anthropological Conjectures” aims to respond to the rich history of the Ancient Anatolia while exploring the themes of scientific knowledge, systems, and cultural traditions. The artist uses archaeological evidence as a starting point to re-imagine the everyday life in the ancient world, then conceives a traditional folktale in which fact and fiction coalesce. For this exhibition, Khaymaz transforms Tasarim Bakkali into an imaginary archaeological museum which houses the newly excavated grave of a fictional woman buried beside her personal objects.
The exhibition contains quasi-archaeological artefacts belonging to a healer and the high priestess of goddess Ishtar named Sitare. This fictional woman supposedly lived during the Bronze Age on the mound of Ash Hill, a trade outpost of Assyrian city Karum Kanesh located in today’s Kayseri, central Turkey. The tale of Sitare is born out of the pseudo artefacts and personal belongings created by the artist. While the underpinning facts weaving the story alongside the techniques used in re-imagining “ancient” objects are based on modern archaeological knowledge, the script and symbols used in the exhibition are created in fiction.
The Post-Processual Theory in modern archaeology informs the exhibition’s line of enquiry which proposes to unearth the human agency. Hence, Khaymaz tries to connect with Sitare’s individuality undeniably unique to her era. Understanding the nature of knowledge as subjective, and rather than seeing archaeology as a method of scientific data collection and objective generalisation, the artist embraces the political and social situations as well as the free human agency in shaping societies.
Expanding the idea of a re-imagined past, the works in the exhibition draw on the daily life, rituals, and traditions of people who lived in the dawn of civilisation. In preparation for the exhibition, Khaymaz taught themselves to write in cuneiform; a script initially emerged from Sumer around 3500 B.C, as well as earlier forms of written language, pictograms. While pictograms were used widely by the masses regarding daily matters throughout Mesopotamia, the cuneiform was reserved only for the privileged. In creating a dialogue on clay tablets utilising both systems, Khaymaz points out to the discrepancy between the production of knowledge and its distribution in relation to sociopolitical connotations of language.
The artist developed this exhibition in collaboration with philologist and poet Mete Ozel who will be performing on the preview night to enact the story of Sitare.
Tasarim Bakkali is a non-profit organisation and an independent art space with an international artist residency programme, based in Istanbul. Inspired by “accessible art and accessible design for all” motto, Tasarim Bakkali aims to create a diverse and open platform together with artists and designers who share the same philosophy. For more info, visit: www.tasarimbakkali.cc