Zişan (1894-1970) is a recently discovered historical figure, a channeled spirit and an alter ego, who appears with fragments from her archive. In the Posthumous Production Series, İz Öztat takes on Zişan’s work and claims an anarchic lineage that goes back to a queer Ottoman woman, who drifted with political commitments, coincidences and obscure obsessions.
Zişan’s destiny is marked by an ambiguous belonging from the outset. She was born as a consequence of the affair between her mother from an upper class Turkish family and an Armenian photographer. She was brought up in her mother’s family house as if she was an adopted orphan. Growing up, she learnt the craft of photography from the Armenian photographer without knowing that he is her father. She left Istanbul in 1915, fleeing from the Armenian Genocide, to embark on a lifelong journey through a vast geography and the guts of 20th century. She didn’t identify as an artist and distributed her work anonymously and with pseudonyms during her lifetime. Her recently discovered archive consists of texts, photographs, photomontages, objects and documents.
İz Öztat’s untimely collaboration with Zişan was initiated at Maçka Sanat Galerisi (2012) with Inherited Weights. Each of the following exhibitions were accompanied by a publication; A Selection from Zişan’s Utopie Folder at Matadero Madrid (2013), Every name in History is I and I is other at Rendez-vous 13, Insti- tut d’art Contemporain (2013), Conducted in depth and projected at length, Heidelberger Kunstverein (2014).
Every name in history is I and I is other
Produced on the occasion of Rendez-vous 13 with the support of Institut d’art Contemporain.
Titled after Zişan’s autobiography, Every name in history is I and I is other conjures a suppressed narrative of the Ottoman past and the top-down transformations imposed by the Turkish Republic through a collaboration. Zişan, who is a recently discovered historical figure, a channeled spirit and an alter ego, appears with selected fragments from her archive. In the Posthumous Production Series, İz Öztat takes on Zişan’s work and claims an anarchic lineage that goes back to a queer Ottoman woman, who drifted with political commitments, coincidences and obscure obsessions.
Taking on Nietzsche’s revelation of eternal return, İz Öztat engages in a posthumous collaboration with Zişan that speculates on other possibilities of her own existence, historiography and the times to come.
A Selection from Zişan’s Utopie Folder (1917-1919)
Supported by Matadero Madrid and exhibited as part of Here Together Now at Nave 16
The displayed selection of her work from the Utopie Folder was produced in 1917 as she travelled through Barcelona, Madrid and arrived in Murcia to spend the summer with a community engaged in crafting vegetable fibers.
The Utopie Folder includes collected fragments, photographs, collages, drawings and texts with which Zişan attempts to shape temporalities that are oriented beyond existing conditions. The exhibited fragments give a sense of the circumstances in which they were produced: Zişan’s disillusionment caused by World War I and rising nationalisms that is partially overcome by her engagement with revolutionary movements; her intersection with the European avant-garde that contributes to her playful critique of rationalism and the coming machine age; her deep engagement with materials and processes that manifests as an animistic relationship with inanimate objects.
Inherited Weights, Maçka Art Gallery, 2012
“İz brings together her own works with a collage, by an intellectual named Zişan, born in İstanbul in 1894, which she encountered in the MSG collection. Zişan is a marginal figure who produced many photographs, photomontages, collages and written works, but nevertheless remained invisible and thus didn’t make it into the pages of history. The two works which İz produced with inspiration from this collage by Zişan and the title of her biography, “Every name in history is me and I is another” set the beginning to the series entitled Posthumous Production. By showing and making visible Zişan, who has influenced her yet has no place in the history of art, İz questions the “myth of the artist” that the art system consistently nurtures through two distinct angles: the role of influence in artistic production, and the role of the culture and art industry in marginalizing individual production in the writing of history.”
From the press release for IZ, Maçka Art Gallery, May 2012, curated by Nazlı Gürlek
Zişan I Untitled I Collage I 1928 I Maçka Art Gallery Collection
Iz Oztat I Posthumous Production Series (Inherited Weights, Zişan, 1928-2012, polyamid, 7 kg)