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Respiro, meaning “breath” in Italian, is complemented by a musical composition by Jacopo Baboni-Schilingi, which is based on the artist’s rendering of the rainbow’s seven colors as a system of partitions. 

SAHA supported the production of Sarkis’  ‘Respiro’, curated by Defne Ayas to be held in the Pavilion of Turkey at the 56th International Art Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia between the dates 9 May–22 November 2015.

The installation ‘Respiro’ consists of two site-specific neon rainbows and two large-scale mirrors with fingerprints applied in watercolor by seven children—Abay, Anna, Aren, Helin, Karla, Claudia and Linda. In addition, it brings together several of Sarkis’ iconic sculptures, including an altar made out of red glass cut to the exact size of the one surrounded by Caravaggio paintings in the church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome.

Thirty-six stained glass panes created with a medieval technique thread the installation. These illuminated panes feature images that encrypt pain, war, Eros, and autobiography through a pictorial orchestra so as to point to a deft but subtle critique of humanity.

Respiro, meaning “breath” in Italian, is complemented by a musical composition by Jacopo Baboni-Schilingi, which is based on the artist’s rendering of the rainbow’s seven colors as a system of partitions. The music is played day and night, together with the neon works breathing in and out for the duration of the exhibition. Respiro took its first breath on 3 April and became fully alive on 23 April 2015.

About Sarkis

Sarkis (1938), a graduate of Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts, Istanbul, had his first exhibition at the Istanbul Art Gallery in 1960. A prominent figure of the global art scene, whose career spans more than five decades, Sarkis has worked with various mediums, and has been, since the end of the 1960s, an icon of installation art in particular. His works have been exhibited worldwide in established institutions, including the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris; Kunst-und-Ausstellungshalle, Bonn; The Louvre, Paris; Bode Museum, Berlin; and Kunsthalle Düsseldorf. Sarkis was part of When Attitudes Become Form, Kunsthalle Bern, 1969; documenta VI and VII, Kassel, 1977 and 1982; and the biennials of Sydney, Shanghai, São Paulo, Moscow, and Istanbul. Most recently, Sarkis has had solo shows  at Galeri Manâ, Istanbul, 2013; ARTER, Istanbul, 2013; Museum Boijmans  Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 2013; Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris, 2014 and 2011; Mamco, Museum of Contemporary Art, Geneva, 2011; Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2010; and Istanbul Modern, Istanbul, 2009. He has been living and working in Paris since 1964. Sarkis is represented by Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels.

About Defne Ayas

Defne Ayas (1976) was the Director of Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art since between 2012-2017. Before moving to Rotterdam, Ayas worked between New York and Shanghai, where she initiated a partnership with Prince Claus Fund – co-founded Arthub Asia in 2007, an Asia-wide active research and production initiative. The curator at large at Performa  –  the biennial of visual art performance of New York City– she has been organizing acclaimed projects and programs with an international roster of artists, architects, curators, critics, and writers from across the world since 2005. Ayas also acts as a Curator-at-Large to Spring in Hong Kong and as an advisor to Blind Dates Project – an artistic platform that is dedicated to tackling what remains of the peoples, places and cultures of the Ottoman Empire (1299-1923), which she co-founded in 2006. In 2012, Ayas co-curated the 11th Baltic Triennale to great acclaim.  Ayas completed De Appel Curatorial Programme in Amsterdam and received her BA in Foreign Affairs at the University of Virginia.