Ceylan Öztrük

Call me Venus is the research and production process in which I focused on history, the writing of history, and the patriarchal nature of historicization. Throughout the different phases of this process, different media, disciplines, and spaces were used; while the subject remained the same the works and the projects evolved to foreground the specificity of each medium. The project, Call Me Venus, looks at womanhood within the frameworks of historic knowledge and contemporary practices.
While criticizing male intervention, it emphasizes the necessity of female intervention.

The Venus of Willendorf was the beginning point for the research process. Venus in Besiktas constitutes the second phase. Call Me Venus and Call Me Venus, Reviews make up the last phase.

I produced these Venuses by using prehistoric Venuses as examples - designed all of them and produced them myself. The materials used are ceramics, glass, and silicone - the glaze on the ceramics is also ceramic paint. The reason I chose ceramics as my main material was to preserve a relationship with the prehistoric Venuses and to make sure these objects are useable.

The glass display vitrines used in museums represent power and patriarchy. I wanted to see the female body without a glass vitrine, accessible. This is was one of the reasons why I built the exhibition space like a store.

In all of the images and footages used within Call Me Venus, Venuses are held, emphasizing their objectness.

You can satisfy yourself with these Venuses — you can take a beautiful woman’s body inside you. You can see it as an art work, a sculpture. You can satisfy yourself with a sculpture, because these are art works—they were produced by an artist and they were exhibited as art objects. They represent the woman and they are so close to you, so accessible that you can insert them into your body. They are art objects that can “literally” give you pleasure. The whole project is based at least on the potential pleasure of these possibilities. The goal is to put a smile on women’s faces and this goal has been reached.

Press Release of the exhibition Call me Venus is below.

“The exhibition Call me Venus aims to banalize the male interpretation and discourse on the female body; as the Venus figurines become objects of pleasure, the woman’s being able to please herself with the ‘image of a woman’ is emphasized.

Discourses about the woman’s body have always been based on masculinity. While in an ideal world,
history exists for people to get to know themselves, actually it is written to shift a specific flow or to enable a flow and thus became a tool of the structures of power. Then, how does the male narrative of history define women? Is it a coincidence that the woman’s body was only interpreted through “fertility” and “motherhood”? If history is an ideological device, then historians and archeologists, who interpret the past with their practice of transforming historic notions into knowledge, remain as parts of the system and are threatened by becoming appropriated by the knowledge directly produced by ideology.

For a nude female figure from 25000-5000 BC to be related to fertility, without any records, documents to point in any direction, and for this interpretation to be taken as a fact is evidence to the maleness of the writing of history. The woman’s body being glorified in this narrative as “fertile” and “maternal” affect the woman’s perception of her own body as well as her place in society.

The Venus statuettes are re-interpreted by Ceylan Ozturk in the exhibition, Call me Venus, and are re-produced.

With an attitude that separates the woman’s body from patriarchy, a new space is created. The Venuses are charged with a new interpretation, liberated from the realm of the patriarchy, becoming
objects of pleasure for women. ‘The woman’s image’ thus becomes her own domain and returns to her own private world.

By transforming the image of the woman’s body into an object of pleasure that is liberated from patriarchy, Call me Venus says to the woman: “What appears to be distant is actually your private.” This also produces a construct in which what is removed from the person is actually an image of the person themselves.

The space constructed at the exhibition is fictional: Ceylan reproduces the practice of exhibiting the woman’s body behind a glass case, with removing the glass case.

The exhibition is spread throughout the space with an installation which consists of multiple pieces. There are also video documents of two interventions/performances on display: The Venus of Willendorf (Vienna, Natural History Museum, 2014) and Venus in Be?ikta? (Istanbul, Be?ikta? Market).

The exhibition presents the culmination of two years of research during which the artist looked at the writing of history and being a woman through the specific lens of the Venus statuettes.”

- Press release of the exhibition, Call me Venus, Installation, Dimensions variable, 2016, Mars, Istanbul.