Elif Yavuz

Clutch, vine leaves, salt, thread, beads, ribbon, safety pins. 2013

On the 17th of January 2010, I was rushing through the people and traffic in Istanbul trying to get from one place to another. Gradually crossing off destinations on my “to visit list”, Eminönü- Yeni Camii (New Mosque) was next. Eminönü has one of the busiest ferry routes that cross the Marmara Sea and the Bosphorus, hence it is the reason why the busy rush is at its peak from early morning hours till the night. The fascination and awe I felt watching thousands of people running around to various places, each having a home, family or a job to get to, I had never felt or experienced before.  The only relation I could possibly have to these strangers was the fact that we were all moving around in the one city together, trying to get somewhere, (no eye contact or even a smile, only passing by.) Excited about the enormous amount of pigeons flying around, I did not have the slightest idea of being smitten with these pigeons, a hut and a nana.

Why was this woman sitting on buckets in a little hut during the peak of the winter season selling seeds?         Is she destined to make a living by depending on pigeon feeders? I often wonder, if there is one specific person that passes her every day during the rush hours in Istanbul and buys seeds from her just to make a difference. I would do that... I would go beyond being a customer and ask her questions to understand why she is there and if I could be any help. If she is there.


(Fig.6)  Nene, Photograph, Elif Yavuz, 2011

12th of December 2012, she was there. Only this time in a white hut.

Travelling back and forth from Australia to Turkey in the last 4 years, I have embraced various elements from my temporary environments throughout the years and documented components most see as a part of daily life. In order to visually represent these elements, I produce photos, videos and installations with temporarily lasting things such as food.
Clutch is an ephemeral piece made with layers of fresh vine leaves covered with salt- a form of preservation. Stitching the preserved vine leaves together with red thread, represents bloodline and my grasp on holding onto my Turkish culture. Placing the “Evil Eye” beads given to me as a gift from the nana in the hut, signifies her existence and my preserved Turkish culture crossed with Australian culture. Whether these are details of co-existence such as the rug we step on, the stool we sit on or the people we pass, they become a part of our existence and the vine leaves will decay day by day with us as humans over time which then recites ephemerality.

Marul,          Lettuce and beeswax

Intertwined, Digital Print, 2010

As a great man once said (my father), “Senin bacakların bu aralar çok uzadı”, meaning ‘your legs have grown too long’. In reflection of this quote, I have come to the realisation that the differences between Turkish and English vocabulary emulates the cultural diversity and social language, which is a major part of every cultural identity, in relation to everyday communication and social aspects.
As an Australia-born Turkish woman, my life is compiled of many different aspects and beliefs such as, family, spirituality, studies, ambitions, work and friends. In retrospect, I have learnt to embrace both cultures, and balance my daily lifestyle by intertwining these two important factors in my life.
To convey the intertwinement of the two cultures visually, I have embraced various elements from my environment. Working with both complex and aesthetic elements, I would like my viewers to not only step into the space but also engage in a mixture of Australian and Turkish cultures that many may have not had a glimpse of.
Elif Yavuz

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