The Turkish artist Ayşe Erkmen has set up an installation beneath the glass cupola of the K21 that is designed especially for this vast and spectacular space. Her piece – a textile structure that is essentially plaited into the roof steel construction – concentrates on the skin of the containing architecture. The large, colored lengths of fabric delineate the structure’s essential contours, not unlike an architect’s building survey.
The artist has charted a path between architectonic integration and autonomous artistic gesture, so that both literally and metaphorically, her work occupies an intermediate zone. The textile material not only subtly modifies the structure, coloration, and illumination of the space, but also relativizes the dominance of technology, thereby generating a new "atmospheric environment." The remainder of the space under the cupola remains empty - except for a single sculpture having barely the width of a hand, a depiction of Erkmen herself produced in a scanning process by her colleague Karin Sander. Displayed elsewhere is the tangle of a textile strip into which Erkmen’s first and last names have been woven.
The works of Ayşe Erkmen always develop from the actual givens of specific locations. Her points of departure are preexisting spatial, formal, or societal structures. Her pieces are characterized by extreme economy of means: she seeks less to add something new to a given space than to take up and reinterpret elements that are already present. In all of their material and emotional dimensions, the spaces with which she engages are not only occasions for interventions, but also essential co-actors. Erkmen is committed to no definite style, nor to any single medium. Her works extend from architectonic and urban interventions, to objects, text, writings, and videos, and all the way to acoustic structures. Hers are works for the present, for a particular moment of experience. With few exceptions, they disappear again at the close of a given exhibition – although a few may resurface in altered form at new locations.
The artist lives and works in her birthplace of Istanbul as well as in Berlin. Her works have been exhibited in numerous international museums and galleries, and she has participated in many exhibitions, including the biennials in Berlin, Kwangju, and Istanbul, the Manifesta, and the Münster sculpture projects. A retrospective of her works is currently on view at the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Berlin.
Also on public view in conjunction with the K21 project will be a sculpture created for the roof of the NRW.BANK (located in the museum’s immediate vicinity), which will be visible from nearby streets. Both projects are documented with commentary in a catalog scheduled for release in late 2008.