For "House Girl" Solo Exhibition by Elif Gül Tirben

As if Always Happy

Pretend! The holy book of the lost generation starts with this order and continues; as if you do not feel, as if nothing bothers you, as if always happy.

At the beginning, we followed the order with belief but in time, we have broken down like a pressed cola can. All we did while falling apart was to express our adolescent anger that we could not yet overcome. We did not aim to change anything, we just wanted to resist. Since this was the case, our priority as the adult candidates of the lost generation has been trying to close the gap between the external world and ourselves that the necessity of pretending created. Accordingly, we have started questioning who we are as individuals and where we stand in the social, in an era in which differentiations between physical/mental, individual/social, inside/outside lost their validity theoretically but maintained their sharpness in daily life.

Olgu Ülkenciler who has lived her childhood in the 90s, is one of the members of the lost generation. In her paintings, she has been questioning the gender issues, by analyzing spatially the phases of sexual awareness and individualization. Visually, the artist, who has been affected by the simple but powerful graphical expression of the earlier digital aesthetic, succeeds drawing the attention of the audience by using sexual images in a simple but impressive way and at the same time by using a childlike language in her representations, creates a humorous atmosphere.

Despite the fact that the works in Ulkenciler’s second solo exhibition House Girl leave a pornographic impression on the audience by the use of disembodied sexual organs that have interlaced each other, when carefully analyzed one realizes that they make visible a complex spatial system that have been characterized by gender codes. In this system, the house girl travels between her house (decorated by lacework and releases blood or dark smokes through its door and chimney) and the external world. In the paintings, while the house represents a place for sexual privacy and isolation, the world outside the house is the space where sexuality is shared and at the same time repressed. Body fluids flowing from one place to the other and the playboy bunny which runs away from the house and comes back again combine these two separate places and seem like saying ‘even though space is fragmented, body and mind will always go beyond the boundaries’. Therefore, the questions ‘where are we?’, ‘where is the house?’ ‘where is sexuality?’ are wrong to ask when it comes to Ulkenciler’s paintings. The actual question is the relationship modals that we create in our minds and spatial practices we experience in our daily lives or where the runaway bunny goes or what it does when it is away.

Ulkenciler who is a member of a generation which perceives and criticizes the social through personal experiences, shows in her paintings that she is an individual who is questioning not because she is lost, but because she wants to confront. In this context, her paintings remind the question that the “lost” generation should direct to themselves and to the ones before them: is the one who is searching always and only ‘lost’?