TRUE LOVE SOUL MATE
"True Love Soul Mate", 2011 & "Glass Flowers", 1999. "True Love Soul Mate", 2012 Rampa, Istanbul, Turkey/"Challenging Identities", 2015 curated by Petra Boonstra, Concordia, Enschede, Netherlands. Courtesy: Ebru Özseçen
The manufacture of glass is simple and difficult at the same time. Simple because you need only a few ingredients: sand, soda and lime. Plus energy. Then it starts to become difficult, especially if you want to have colored glass. Then you need metal oxides in fine quantities. Many questions must be answered before you start the process. What's the melting temperature of this kind of glass? Up to 1,450 degrees Centigrade. Every 500 kilograms of the batch are molten in separate earthen pots. It takes about 12 hours to get homogeneous molten glass, liquid like honey. After that the glass needs to rest for a couple of hours before the glass masters show up. They are strong and skilled workers. At 4 o'clock in the morning they take the first amount of glass out of the furnace. With a 2-meter long blowpipe they gather the glass the shape of the fist of a strong man. Turning, turning, turning the blowpipe the glass cools down a little bit until it is ready to add the next portion. Working temperature in the furnace is now 1,100 degrees C. The ball is now really heavy. The blowpipe is getting hot. It must be cooled with water without stopping to turn the blowpipe. Before the real blow process starts the glass must be reheated in the furnace. Then the glass masters blows his breath into the ball of hot glass. The ball grows to a balloon. No, it is more the shape of a tear drop. By blowing in more of his breath the bubble is getting bigger. It is difficult to keep the shape. It is incredible hot only an arm length away from the furnace. And the glass at the head of the blowpipe is heavy. To fix the breath of the glass master - the moving, twisting lines like exhaling on a cold winter day in Istanbul - we add small parts of cold opal (white) glass to the glowing red clear glass. Glass parts laying on a heavy steel plate the glass master rolls the ball over the opal small cullets. Dips single pieces. In his imagination he knows how the final result will look like. Everything is reheated in a small oven at 1,200 degrees. The white particles start to move to flow like feathers on the clear glass. That is what the artist wants. To catch the moment. To freeze it. To keep it for eternity. When the glass cools down the glass master knocks off the glass object from the blowpipe. Smoothly it is carried to the annealing lehr. Step by step the temperature goes down from 850 degrees to room temperature. Beautiful mouth blown glass made especially for the artwork of Ebru. Unique. Precious. Rare. With the breath of the World's best glassmakers.*
It is impossible to disregard the gender aspect in Özseçen’s work, in which she indiscriminately plays with the androgynous form – the phallus, vulva, uterus or scrotum. At times pushing the boundaries of pornographic obscenity, the artist always places erotic intensity in the foreground. On the other hand, in many of her works it is possible to see Özseçen driven by her deep-seated admiration for the tradition of artisanship. The artist is drawn to the sensual quality of the form and the beauty of a well-accomplished object. This approach invites us to interpret the artist’s practice from a new perspective. Özseçen’s sharp gaze on the form, and her romantic obsession with the beautiful, the pure, and the unsoiled confront us as sharp yet sensitive, violent yet graceful works that have been refined in the hands of a craftsman.
The first of Özseçen’s works to be exhibited at Rampa, Toplar / Balls (1997) is one of the earliest works of the artist. Toplar / Balls portrays shining ball and pendants on a chandelier, which the artist photographed in an antique store in London. Özseçen returned to these forms in this photograph over and over again throughout the years. She used the same form in Şeker Avize / Sugar Chandelier exhibited in the 1999 İstanbul Biennial; in the tears falling from façade of the Elhamra Passage on İstiklal Street in Beyoğlu in 2001; and in her 2009 sculpture Kısmet among others. For her exhibition at Rampa Toplar / Balls is revealed again, to greet us as a three-dimensional photograph/relief/sculpture in the hands of the famous glass master Mayer of Munich. The work, which has been reprinted as relief over glass and ornately designed with mirrors, opens a new space where Özseçen questions the relationship between space and body through her inner experiences. As the spectators are able to see their own reflection on the very work itself, Özseçen invites them to redefine themselves within the space in the photograph.
Özseçen’s new work, Gerçek Aşk Gönül Eşi / True Love Soul Mate (2011), which will constitute the backbone of the exhibition at Rampa, is comprised of over 100 separate glass pieces. This work is realized in collaboration with Mayer of Munich and Glasshütte Lamberts, which are among the most prominent handmade glass studios of the world that has for the first time opened its doors to contemporary arts for this work. Each piece is produced in different sizes and forms with hours of effort in 1450-degree ovens. Recalling many of Özseçen’s work, heat once more emerges as a dominating component in this work, both as a physical force and as an allegory. For this work, the artist divulges that “the concept of true love and soul mate employed in the title should be sought not in the realm of romantic love, but rather in companionship, camaraderie as signified in the craftsman’s delicate touch on the objects he has amorously devoted himself to.” Installing two of her works of the same form together, one from the beginning and the other from the most recent phase of her career, Özseçen incites the audience to trace a playful phantom form.**
*Text by Hans Reiner Mendel "A Short Description of a Long Process" written for Ebru Özseçen's work "True Love Soul Mate".
**Excerpts from the press release by Üstüngel Inanç for the exhibition "True Love Soul Mate".
"True Love Soul Mate", 2012. Air injected blown glass mixed with opal, felt.