Born in 1989 in Istanbul, Gülşah Mursaloğlu received her B.A. degree from the Department of Sociology at Boğaziçi University before completing her graduate studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In her works, she explores materiality, matter’s agency and human and non-human temporalities. Her installations emerge after an in-depth and extensive research process, and don’t remain stable in form, but instead manifest themselves as dynamic and fluid systems through their ephemeral nature.
Devouring the Earth, in Perishable Quantities
Devouring the Earth, in Perishable Quantities is a body of work that contemplates the ways we devour the earth and the underground, both literally and metaphorically. Human and non-human communities have indulged in practices of geophagia (eating dirt), at times as a means to receive particular minerals, at other times as a way to establish a connection with the land. These practices became shameful for people over the course of several centuries. However today eating clay and other minerals have made a comeback as healing practices and a way to boost immunity.
Departing from the act of eating the earth, the installation brings together several materials; non-food items we devour both intentionally and involuntarily over the course of our daily lives. It covers a range of cases across different lands: kaolin that is extracted from the mines in Georgia and later sold in zip-locks in supermarkets as Grandma’s White Dirt; arsenic that was regularly ingested by different communities in Austria in the 19th century; and the microplastics that find their ways into our guts through the city water. Devouring the Earth, in Perishable Quantities investigates the limits of hosting a foreign substance/matter in a body, and borrows forms from the geological and biological extraction processes. Within the installation microplastics meander in washing machine filters, arsenic in the solar pills and computer chips slips into soaps and artificially manufactured mineral blocks unite with kaolin and transform into medicinal clays. It hosts various processes of leakage, amalgamation and digestion across different temporalities. In doing so, it aims to underscore the entanglement within the acts of eating/consuming/devouring that are often promoted as choice-based; and the points and practices of continuity between humans and other agencies.
Dear Laurie, Dear Gülşah
Dear Laurie, Dear Gülşah is a publication that brings together the correspondence between A. Laurie Palmer and Gülşah Mursaloğlu across distant geographies from April to September 2020. Within this transformative year that bore witness to a global pandemic, anti-racist protests, fall of powerful figures and monuments and fires around both continents, the letters both reflect on the present moment and offer insight into the artists’ practices and long-term projects.