"6,5 Ruble" Denef Huvaj
Time & Location
About the Event
Arthan Gallery meets its audience on June 4th with Denef Huvaj's most comprehensive exhibition in Turkey, “6.5 Rubles”.
Denef Huvaj, who studied engineering and fine arts in Russia, has been producing photography and video works in Turkey, the North Caucasus and Abkhazia for a long time, following the ties between the two geographies.
The folk tales told in the south of the Caucasus Mountains speak of supernatural living creatures that are half peacock, half female: the folk tale goes like this: a magnificent creature has thousand enchanted eyes which display like a hand fan in the form of a light breeze. With these eyes, it sees all of the forests and the water; the goodness and the evil; the past and the future, simultaneously. Coveted by this evil eye beldames transform into young women, and men with grim faces into charming boys. This graceful creature walks continuously all year from where the mountains along the western shore of Caucasia touch the clouds and brings spring to the lands as it turns its thousand eyes to.
Is the woman who comes through the blue clouds and appears in Denef Huvaj’s frame, the relative of this mythical creature? We cannot know; however, we can take our place in the view that emerges before her eyes. For She is the one who sees not only with her eyes, but with her eye lids, her whole body, with the pearls in her chest and with the pair of roses in her hand. “rose, oh pure contradiction, delight of being no one’s sleep under so many lids.” The secrecy of this sentence written on the Austrian poet Rilke’s headstone can be contemplated through a Caucasian tale.
The exhibition takes its name from the “6,5 Rubles” that were kept without ever being spent and given to the artist by her grandmother when she left home in order to go to Russia. The exhibition is installed on the two floors of ArtHan Gallery which is located in a 500-year-old structure, commanded to Istanbul by Mimar Sinan. In Denef Huvaj’s works, an enormously diverse universe of images that extend from what is witnessed to what is dreamed and from what is in vogue to myths, appear. Are these images entangled in a single net? Are these images all weaved by a single woman? Are all of these worlds unsealed by a single artist? Despite all of their differences, the same morning breeze blows to our faces through the doors that each one of them cracks. It is a velvet road from Turkey to Abkhazia, from childhood to adulthood, from exquisite pleasure to playful joviality that lies ahead of us.
There exists some kind of soundness in the relationship that Denef Huvaj establishes with the world. A grace which raises the obscurity encompassing not only the world, but the language of contemporary art concurrently. This eye, which can take a look at the most noble being and the most common object, as well as a traumatic memory and an ordinary moment all from the same distance, is in a way an instrument of tolerance. This beauty that becomes entirely distant from perfection, as Denef Huvaj overcomes all of the thresholds from youth to elderliness, from wealth to poverty, from an individual to society with identically resilient steps; is the joy of being able to embrace everything that life brings forth with compassion. The sound of an unpretentious Yes rises from the frames of Denef Huvaj. A wedding dress that has not found its owner yet; a Christmas tree waiting in the corner all year; white, long braids; the smell of warm milk spreading in a room all have equal value, because every single thing that has fallen into disfavor today was surely once loved with feverish passion in the past. That porcelain young lady with rosy cheeks sitting on the edge of her own bed looks like the riddled facade windows of a ruined building. Everything is exactly where it’s supposed to be, when it’s supposed to be. Life which is of pure contradiction is terrifically fragile, thin like pellicle, transparent and temporal; and for this very reason worthy of love.
Denef Huvaj must have passed through the mined history of an extraordinarily beautiful geography as a ghost who sees with its whole body. She can stare from the cracks of her frames right into the eyes of time without fear. It is where no distinction between the past and the future exists, where singular lives are left hanging that she learned taking photographs on her fingertips. Perhaps this is why she keeps the same compassionate distance with everything she encounters. She allows them to exist on their own. Her eyes are those of a child who sees the world of grown-ups bare-naked through a camera without a film inside that renders her pocket money a treasure.
Is it still that little girl who is behind the camera? Is it a woman in love? An engineer with sharp wit? Perhaps, all of these. Instead of experiencing the sorrow and fate of a single person, she adopted timeless geographies as her home. An ability similar to those developed in nomads, poets and lovers is visible also in children. One must have nothing left to lose in order to embrace the past, which is a source of anguish, with such compassion; except the 6.5 Rubles left in the palm of her childhood.