Furkan G. "In the Body" by Nazlı Gürlek Hodder
Updated: Feb 7
Furkan G. is 11 years old and lives in Kurtuluş, a mixed neighborhood in Istanbul traditionally home to Greek and Armenian Christian minorities, presently housing many low-income families. Having left school, Furkan sells water on the street in Dolapdere, an industrial district divided by an inner-city freeway and surrounded by underground manual labor factories employing Syrians, Africans and Kurds.
In contrast to its gritty urban landscape, many fine arts institutions have cropped up in Dolapdere, such as Dirimart and Pilevneli galleries, and more recently, the new Arter and Evliyagil Museum. On the 7th of November, the day of Evliyagil's opening of my solo show, "In the Body" (my first public appearance as an artist), Furkan walked into the ground floor gallery of the compact museum with his friend Azat, asking about the works. He shared meticulous comments on each of them. The work that attracted his interest the most was the piece, "Body Is A Portal".
Furkan said that he liked this piece but that he could come up with a better one based on the inspiration he would take from it. I invited him to come back to the gallery in four days to realize his painting. Furkan created his piece with pastels and paper, which were provided for him. It features three circles representing, in his own terms (from top to bottom) death, prison/infinity and salvation.
He imagined its concept as a visual narrative: "On a nice, calm day while you are sitting at home watching TV and a hole appears all of a sudden dragging you in. Through this hole you come into the space where three circles appear for you to choose a pathway among the three."
Among the color codes on the right hand side, are red, green and blue, defining so-called "bad" areas of death and prison. The color black defines the "good" circle of salvation.
Evliyagil Museum exhibited Furkan's artwork along with mine for the duration of "In the Body". My colleagues at Evliyagil and I started a campaign to support Furkan and his family by selling his drawings. His initial piece , "Hole", sold on the first day of the campaign. Furkan is drawing more now.
Nazlı Gürlek Hodder is invested in developing an embodied aesthetic that reflects the here and now of authentic life experiences in order to speak of freedoms, agency, resistance and empowerment. Through the artistic gestures of healing and resistance, she proposes a return to a desiring, performing, creating body, that is in constant continuation and flow with the rest of life. Following a career as a curator between 2005-18, Gürlek Hodder has returned to her original endeavour of art making as of 2017. Since then her work has been exhibited in group shows "Crystal Chateau" (2020, Evliyagil Museum, Ankara), "Gaia Has a Thousand Names" (2019, Elgiz Museum, Istanbul), the 6th International Çanakkale Biennial: “Before the Past, After the Future” (2018, Çanakkale,Turkey), "Happening Now" (2019, Artnivo at Istanbul Art Week), and “Floating Tactics After a Sunken Island” (2017, Daire Gallery, Istanbul). Her performative art piece “ONE” was staged at Koç University’s Research Center forAnatolian Civilisations (RCAC) in the context of "The Curious Case of Çatalhöyük"exhibition and as a parallel event to the 15th Istanbul Biennial (2017). She holds a BA in Painting from the Academy of Fine Arts of Florence and an MFA in Curating from Goldsmiths College, London. Gürlek Hodder is based between Istanbul, and San Francisco Bay Area of California.