The Venice Biennale’s Pavilion of Turkey, which is organized under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and coordinated by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) with the contributions of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, features an installation by Turkish artist Füsun Onur this year.
The Pavilion of Turkey is located in its long-term venue at the Arsenale, one of the main venues of the Venice Biennale, secured by the IKSV for the duration of 20 years from 2014 to 2034. It is set to take place between April 23 and Nov. 27.
Curated by Istanbul Biennial and IKSV Contemporary Art Projects Director Bige Örer, Onur’s exhibition at the pavilion “Once Upon a Time…” tells the story of a group of mice and cats that unite against the destruction humans have unleashed on the planet.
Onur, who prepared this work for two years at her home during the pandemic period, created scenes that present different characters and various sections from the lives of mice and cats by bending and shaping metal wires. Each scene depicted on the clouds spreading over the exhibition space came together to form a holistic narrative.
In this fairy-tale world, mice, who learn about the human-caused pandemic from the newspapers distributed by students, begin to discuss what they can do to overcome it and decide to cooperate with cats to fight against this crisis that threatens the whole world. When cats and mice start working together, one of the mice goes on a journey to Venice, where it falls in love with the magic of quiet music at a festival. The transformative and dizzying power of the mouse’s love does not come from another mouse; it arises from art, life and Venice.
Onur also prepared key poetic notes to help viewers immerse themselves in this tale. The exhibition, which does not offer a definite ending to its visitors, also makes it possible for them to add new meanings to the work through the relationship they establish in their own world.
As one of Turkey’s pioneering contemporary and conceptual artists, Onur creates work that deals with the potentials of space, time, rhythm and form that are inherent in simple, everyday materials charged with narrative and oblique autobiographical references. In her prolific career that spans over half a century, the artist always defied boundaries between painting and sculpture, becoming a pivotal figure in introducing the avant-garde into the artistic canon in Turkey in the early 1970s.