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Grounded in a process-oriented approach to sculpture and installation, Elif Erkan’s artistic practice focuses on the affective and psychological associations of traditional sculptural materials combined with everyday objects of contemporary consumerism in narrative constellations that bridge ancient mythologies and pop culture. 

 

Drawing from her background in photography, Elif Erkan’s process involves simultaneously the material event and the material documentation of the event. Her early sculptures are often aimed at the documentation of a performative action such as the shattering of china plates or the folding and tearing of clothing items encapsulated in plaster. As such, they operate as records of the processes whereby forces and materials come into contact with one another to give and take form. Her sculptures preserve spontaneity and the material’s accidental and irrational behavior while revealing joy, fury, depression or melancholy as affective charges of everyday objects and gestures.


The common thread that runs through Erkan’s work is causality, fully embodied as a propositional aesthetic quality through a series of dynamic correlations between socio-political issues, vernacular objects turned into sculptural materials and contemporary and mythological cultural narratives filtered through a radical subjectivity. Whether she reinterprets the Greek myth of lotus eaters through modern day dietary supplements to question whether an object can suffer depression, or turns to textile and mathematics to explore female labor as a form of radical subjectivity, Erkan is interested in setting a relational field where positions of object and subject are constantly rearranged in a spectrum of possibilities.


Elif Erkan (b. 1985, Ankara, Turkey) lives and works in Vienna. 


Elif Erkan holds a BA from Städelschule Frankfurt (2013) and MFA from Otis College for Art and Design, Los Angeles (2016). Her solo exhibitions include La Bocca Della Vérità, Ve.sch Kunstverein (Vienna, 2023); What is it that possesses me?, Weiss Berlin (Berlin, 2018); Bag Answers, Kunstverein Heidelberg (Heidelberg, 2017); Ex Oriente Lux, Park View (Los Angeles, 2016); Konzentration der Kräfte, Kunsthalle Portikus (Frankfurt, 2015) and M.E. - I like your backpack, WIELS (Brussels, 2014). She has participated in recent group shows such as Sculpture Garden, Geneva Biennale (Geneva, 2022); To Exhibit in Case of Emergency, Cité international des Arts (Paris, 2021); What Remains Is What The Poets Found, PS120 (Berlin, 2019); Work Loves Me, Lanserhof (Bolzano, 2018); Paroxysm of Union, Kunsthalle Freeport (Athens, 2017) and Capital Debt, Territory, Utopia, Hamburger Bahnhof (Berlin, 2016). Elif Erkan was the recipient of a residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, with the Hessische Kulturstiftung Grant and in 2015-2016 she received the Villa Aurora Berlin fellowship with the DAAD Travel Grant USA.