Gaia Has A Thousand Names - An Eco-Feminist Exhibition at Elgiz Museum

September 13, 2019

Nowadays, various scientists, organizations, and individuals suggest that it is no longer accurate to use the term "climate change", but that we should rather refer to it as "the climate crisis". The humanity is facing the state of urgency due to the rapid sea-level rise, storms and floods, not to mention the horrifying forest fires happening in the Amazon, Siberia and parts of Africa.

The nature of our planet is collapsing, lots of it having to do with the human usage of fossil fuels in the past century (ever since industrialization). Currently various initiatives are being undertaken in various fields, and naturally, the environmental issues are being questioned throughout the arts as well.

The current exhibition titled Gaia Has A Thousand Names is a perhaps a more poetic, but certainly socio-politically charged take on the mentioned climate crisis. This survey is essentially rooted in the feminist stance, so it tends to examine contemporary spirituality and holism centered on the Earth.

Tracey Emin - Sometimes
Tracey Emin – Sometimes, 2004. Digital Photograph, 123 x 100 cm. Courtesy the artist

The Exhibition Concept

Namely, the word Gaia refers to the primordial Greek goddess of Earth or The Mother of All. This particular female divinity is known under a thousand names - Cybele in Anatolia, Anat in Babylon, Isis and Hathor in Egypt, or PachaMama as was called by the Incas.

The curator Tara Londi formed this concept under the influence of two significant booksThe Civilization of the Goddess written by an archaeologist Marija Gimbutas, and The Death of Nature by eco-feminist theorist Carolyn Merchant. This exhibition is her attempt to trace the contemporary notion of earth-based spirituality and holism in regards to the Eco-feminist movement, recent geophysical discoveries, and the mentioned climate crisis.

The works of ten critically acclaimed artists such as Nan Goldin, Elsa Sahal, Tracey Emin, Gözde İlkin, Domingo Milella, Jesse Jones, Nazlı Gürlek, Romana Londi, Marion Verboom, and Sarah Morris (including a selection from the museum’s collection), will show how they perceive the Planet Earth as a female goddess in a broader context of women's identification with nature. Furthermore, the selection will critically explore how the naturalization of women and the feminization of nature developed throughout human culture.

Sarah Morris -High Heels
Sarah Morris - High Heels (purple), 1996. Gloss household paint on canvas, 183 x 183 cm. Courtesy the artist

Gaia Has A Thousand Names at Elgiz Muzeum

This particular exhibition is a sketch for Londi’s upcoming touring exhibition on eco-feminism. The visitors can follow the exploitation of nature and women in historical terms so the overall articulation of patriarchal codes can be established.

Here it's important to mention that this exciting survey concerning the feminist interpretation of the cultural, social and political implications of the ongoing crisis is part of the program of the 16th edition of the Istanbul Biennial titled The Seventh Continent, Art in the Anthropocene.

Gaia Has A Thousand Names will be on view at Elgiz Muzeum in Maslak, Turkey until from September 13 until 14 October 2019.

Featured image: Nan Goldin - Red Sky From My Window, NYC, 2000. Cibachrome print, 76 x 102 cm. Courtesy the artist. All images courtesy of Elgiz Museum.

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