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Work Samples

Untitled (Caryatid Performance) - Still

45 Minute endurance performance with objects. Image courtesy of Hamiltonian Gallery.

Monument II (Reliefs)

2018.14'x28'x5". (Variable, site specific size for future editions).Prints on concrete, charcoal

Dates from Mecca (: Mekke’den Hurma)

2017. Lost-wax cast bronze. 25” x .25 x 1” "Okumak-Üflemek" is a Turkish cultural practice wherein a person says a protective prayer and transfers it, through breath, onto an edible object. Prayer is dormant until consumption. My grandmother brought dates back from her pilgrimage to Mecca. They were blessed by a very important Imam there. I was to consume the dates and keep the pits for protection. Instead of consuming them with my mouth, I used fire.

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About sera

Baltimore City

sera boeno's picture
Sera Boeno is a sculptor and installation artist from Istanbul, Turkey.  Her praxis is research based and influenced by the sociopolitics of her motherland, which she extrapolates to her current setting. Narratives of and around women in historically silenced topics –politics, sex, religion, trauma– are central to  her work; she explores these topics via para-fiction, “mockuments”, “fauxrcehology”, archival and museological language. Boeno holds a B.A. from Dartmouth College with degrees in... more

Untitled (Caryatid Performance)

From the press release:

Join us on Tuesday, April 16 from 7 - 8 pm for a performance in Sera Boeno's exhibition "Kelimeler Kıyafetsiz (:Words Naked/Are Not Enough)" starring Molly Margulies, Jamiee Shim, Sheya Isabelle Jabouin, Lindsay Chestnut, Rex (Alexandra) Delafkaran and Sheba Newman-Blount.

In this forty-five minute-long endurance performance, six female identifying performers will put themselves on vulnerable display while wearing bronze ornaments of domination and torture that are embellished with delicate patterning found in Turkish illuminated manuscripts and textiles. Taking choreographic cues from the contra-posto stance of the six female "pillars" that form the Caryatid Porch at the Erechtheion, the performers will transition from object to subject through gaze and subtle shifts in pose.The performance in "Words Naked / Are Not Enough" calls into question ideas of authority and subjecthood, and the gaze's role in female subjugation, domination and power. The performance in "Kelimeler Kıyafetsiz (:Words Naked/Are Not Enough)" was made possible through the financial backing of the Foundation for Contemporary Art Emergency Grant, production assistant Molly Rose Shulman and performance consultant Jeramie Bellamay.

Ornaments VII-XIII - From the Kelimeler Kıyafetsiz (:Words Naked/Are Not Enough) Series

Ornaments start out as traditional 2-D tezhip drawings, which are then digitized, 3-D modeled, 3-D printed, cast in bronze by lost-wax casting and finally finished by hand. The back-and-forth between contemporary and ancient fabrication methods is testament to paradoxical identities assigned to women in today's society.

This second set of Ornaments were used during the Untitled(Caryatid Performance) at the Hamiltonian Gallery, in 2019.

(see Monument I, II, III-V, Ornaments I- VII and Monument VI for the previous sections of Kelimeler Kıyafetsiz (:Words Naked/Are Not Enough project statement)

Monument VI (Altar) - From the Kelimeler Kıyafetsiz (:Words Naked/Are Not Enough) Series

The final iteration, Monument VI, is fabricated into an altar/temple form, inspired by the Altar of Zeus, extracted in whole from Bergama in Ottoman Empire (Now Izmir in modern day Turkey) and transported to Berlin for display in Pergamon Museum.

Antithetical to the ancient and archaeological visual language employed in these works, the methodology, the typography and the materials all relate to modern processes such as gentrification and mass printing. This visual oxymoron yields contemporary historical objects, paralleling the antiquated conceptualizations of womanhood in modern day patriarchies.

(see Monument I, II, III-V & Ornaments I-VII for the previous sections of Kelimeler Kıyafetsiz (:Words Naked/Are Not Enough) project statement)

Ornaments I-VII - From the Kelimeler Kıyafetsiz (:Words Naked/Are Not Enough) Series

The quotes read on the Kelimeler Kıyafetsiz (:Words Naked/Are Not Enough) Monuments read:

“Turkish lady is the ornament of her house…”

“I don’t believe in the equality of men and women... Men and women are different. They are each other’s complementary.”

And so, in 2018 the body of work has bifurcated to house a non-equal but complementary counterpart to the Monuments: a set of golden mouth Ornaments that cage the lips of its wearer in motifs from tezhip - an Ottoman manuscript Illumination style. A parallel is drawn between the relationship of tezhip and text, and that of “Woman” and “Man” for as Turkish Woman ornaments the house of her man, tezhip ornaments the house of the word, the page.

Delicate, seductive, valuable in material and silencing, these beautiful gags confirm women’s exclusion from the linguistic realm, marginalization and ornamentalization within history

(see Monument I, II, III-V for the previous sections of Kelimeler Kıyafetsiz (:Words Naked/Are Not Enough project statement)

Monument IV, V (Twin Obelisks) - From the Kelimeler Kıyafetsiz (: Words Naked/Are Not Enough) Series

The 2018 iterations of Kelimeler Kıyafetsiz (:Words Naked/Are Not Enough), Monument III , IV and V take the form of obelisks comparable to the one of Pharaoh Thutmose III transported to and re-erected in the Hippodrome of Constantinople. From the Washington Monument in D.C. to the Trajan's Column in Rome, phallic monuments have been built and displaced throughout history as markers of power/conquest.

(see Monument I & II for the previous sections of Kelimeler Kıyafetsiz (:Words Naked/Are Not Enough project statement)

Monument III (Obelisk) - From the Kelimeler Kıyafetsiz (:Words Naked/Are Not Enough)

The 2018 iterations of Kelimeler Kıyafetsiz (:Words Naked/Are Not Enough), Monument III , IV and V take the form of obelisks comparable to the one of Pharaoh Thutmose III transported to and re-erected in the Hippodrome of Constantinople. From the Washington Monument in D.C. to the Trajan's Column in Rome, phallic monuments have been built and displaced throughout history as markers of power/conquest.

(see Monument I & II for the previous sections of Kelimeler Kıyafetsiz (:Words Naked/Are Not Enough project statement)

Monument II (Reliefs) - From the Kelimeler Kıyafetsiz (:Words Naked / Are Not Enough) Series

In 2016, the Kelimeler Kıyafetsiz (:Words Naked/Are Not Enough) text was formed into a concrete frieze inspired by the Assyrian Reliefs that eulogized Ashurbanipal who once sat in the now ancient palace of Nineveh, by rendering him as hunting lions.

(see Monument I for the previous section of Kelimeler Kıyafetsiz (:Words Naked/Are Not Enough project statement)

Monument I (Writing Stones) - From the Kelimeler Kıyafetsiz (:Words Naked / Are Not Enough) Series

Kelimeler Kıyafetsiz (:Words Naked/Are Not Enough) is a research project on representations of women in political speech from Turkey wherein quotes that refer to women are extracted from the public speeches of current Turkish politicians and re-presented in archeological forms that have historically celebrated male glory.

In 2014, the collection of quotes were formed into 10 writing stones, Monument I, visually drawing from Orkhon Inscriptions: bilingually inscribed Turkic artifacts erected to glorify 8th Century Göktürk Princes.

Concrete Landscapes

The concrete Kelimeler Kıyafetsiz (: Words Naked/Are Not Enough) Monuments I make are not light work. They are very cerebral; not fun, intuitive or particularly beautiful. Once I am done with the extensive concrete molding process, I go back to the wooden molds I used over and over again, and chalk landscapes I find in the spills and marks. These remind me of Ottoman miniatures. I manipulate them even further to exaggerate the concrete landscapes I see. The pieces simultaneously act as work on their own and an archive of the process of making the Monuments. Finding something serene and random in the heavy and political work is cathartic. I number them in the order I make them, but they all have informal nicknames in my head.

Grandmother Series (: Anneanne Serisi)

My family, and the practices of women in my family, are things that I hold very dear to my heart; these small bits of ephemeral information are building blocks of larger, enduring concepts that give way to monumental work.

Grandmother Series (Anneanne Serisi) is an intimate body of work that records my Grandmother, Neriman Aydin’s stories, dreams, obsessions, loves and traumas in objects.

Grandmother Series is comprised of small scale, simple and domestic materials and working methods, as well as found or acquired objects and non-objects (practices, Oral histories, prayers.) I sculpt these physical and abstract artifacts into my work as research “data”, the meaning of which I have expanded to include objects that have gained specific significance through experience. When worn to a funeral, a piece of black cloth is elevated to a signifier of time; stones and fruit pits my grandmother brings back from a pilgrimage to Mecca into that of faith; pricked into drywall, sewing needles become documentations of waiting. I build these objects into the series to widen in space and solidify in time the active states of such object’s fleeting stories.

  • Dates from Mecca (: Mekke’den Hurma)

    2017. Lost-wax cast bronze. 25” x .25 x 1” "Okumak-Üflemek" is a Turkish cultural practice wherein a person says a protective prayer and transfers it, through breath, onto an edible object. Prayer is dormant until consumption. My grandmother brought dates back from her pilgrimage to Mecca. They were blessed by a very important Imam there. I was to consume the dates and keep the pits for protection. Instead of consuming them with my mouth, I used fire.
  • Prayer (:Dua)

    2017. Wood, cooking twine, candies prayed on by my Grandmother. 12” x 7” x 1.5”. These mint candies are my grandmother's choice of object to pray on. She distributes them to her grandchildren for protection. She used to pray on them one by one. Eventually she started blessing them by the pack. The last batch she sent me was a 7 lb eco-pack all blessed in one go.
  • Prayer II (Neriman’s Blanket) (: Dua II (Neriman’ın Yorganı))

    Wood, cooking twine, cement, candies prayed on by my Grandmother. 78” x 26” x 3”.
  • Prayer III (Chandelier) (: Dua III (Avize) )

    2017.Wood, cooking twine, candies prayed on by my Grandmother. 6’ x 2’ x 2’.
  • Prayer III (Chandelier) (: Dua III (Avize) )

    2017. Wood, cooking twine, candies prayed on by my Grandmother. 6’ x 2’ x 2’. Detail.
  • Proposal for a Monument for Neriman (Penelope)

    2017. Sewing Needles, thread. 2” x .25 x 1.5”. My grandfather was in the Turkish Navy. Military missions took him to the United States many times. He returned from his odysseys with excitement, stories of patriotism and adventure. It is rumored in the family that he took an American lover. My grandmother never made it to the U.S. She was a house-wife. She stayed in Golcuk, a small town in North-West Turkey and took care of the house and her three daughters. She made all of their clothes by hand.
  • Board Game (: Çocuk Oyunu)

    2017. Concrete, interactive. Variable ( 4”x1.5”x1.5” blocks)
  • Laying Stones

    2017. Wood, found cloth, pebbles, thread. 11" x 19" x 1.5"

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