Born in Istanbul in 1990, the artist has begun her studies at NYU’s Steinhardt Media, Communication and Culture and completed her undergraduate studies at the Media and Visual Arts, Sociology Department at Koç University in 2014. Larissa Araz produces works in a variety of media including text, video, image and sound. Through a personal viewpoint, she focuses at the topics of history, identity, memory and belonging that are included or not included in social memory. The questions that are not answered by history that we repeatedly ask ourselves – or not anymore – are the main threads of an existential research of Araz.
Recent workshops and artist residency programs that the artist has participated in include: “Qayyem” Bassam El Baron, Binna Choi, Maria Berrios, Mass Alexandria (2019), “Articulating Research”, Ben Eastham, Aslı Seven, Merve Ünsal, SALT (2018); “Resource Utopia”, Andreas Rost, Michael Biedowicz, Volkan Kızıltunç, Goethe-Institut İstanbul, NOKS Art Space (2018); Tony Chakar and Marwa Arsanios “In Seeking Incuriously” Workshop, Salzburg Summer Art Academy (2017). Exhibitions she has participated in are: “Words Don’t Come Easy” Dreiviertel, Bern, Switzerland; “The Soil You Thread”, Akbank Sanat, Akbank Contemporary Art Prize Exhibition, Istanbul (2019); “Chance For a Miracle”, Poşe Artist Run Space, Istanbul (2018); “Large Meadow Exhibitions”, Ariel Sanat, Istanbul, (2018); “Unerlöst”, Corpus G Gallery, İstanbul, (2018), “Survival Kit”, Cultural Transit Foundation, Yekaterinburg, Russia (2017) and Space Debris, Istanbul (2017); “30 under 30 Women Photographers”, Popping Club, Roma, Italy (2017); Printed, Mixer Gallery, İstanbul (2017); “Young, Fresh, Different 7”, Gallery Zilberman, İstanbul (2016); “We are not dead yet!”, Mamut Art, Küçük Çiftlik Park, Istanbul (2016); “Second Eye Women Photographers from Turkey”, Sismanoglou Megaro, Istanbul (2013). Araz founded Poşe Artist Run Space in April 2018 and has been working at SAHA Studio since August 2019.
Begin to See through the Darkness
Begin to See through the Darkness departs from the story of a fig tree emerging from the belly of Ahmet Cemal, who was killed during the war in 1974 in Cyprus. The location of a fig tree in a cave reached only from the sea is investigated in a region close to Limassol, a place not suitable for the cultivation of the fig tree, and eventually the research evolves into a search expedition reaching the lost corpses of three Turkish Cypriots. The fig, which is the last meal of Ahmet Cemal before he was killed, grows with the sunlight leaking through a hole at the top of the cave, which had been detonated with dynamite and turns into a tree. The fig tree growing from the belly of Ahmet Cemal, which serves as both a war archive and a cemetery, blurs the relationship between soil and identity.
Traveling to Cyprus to find this tree, the artist looks at the story through myths of light, cave and shadow, adding her own travel experience to this research. In the installation, while the light falling on a soil altar examines the sin and the relationship of the human body with the soil, the coffin-sized photographs of the cave tree focus on the relationship of historiography with death. The shadow of the lost fig tree that lies on the floor of the space opens up a confrontation with the past and the future for our subconscious. Thus, it makes people think about the war and the mental and physical destruction that existed after the war.
Interpreting the boundaries that are not accepted by the involved parties, the bodies that are still missing and the transformations of the identities in the light of the lands that cannot be embraced, Araz tries to position the political meaning of the absences as well as the presences in political imagination.