Inci Eviner: Giving a Voice to Women

Posted on 31 August 2018 by Liverpool Biennial

Ranging from drawings and video to performative and collaborative practices, Inci Eviner is an artist whose work explores the politics and potentiality of desire, space and subjectivity. It also often focuses on the experiences of women, and the work she has created for Liverpool Biennial 2018 is no different. Presented in the old prison cells at St George’s Hall, Reenactment of Heaven reflects on the place of women in heaven. The artist worked with a female performer to create a film which uses everything from drawings and masks to choreography. We caught up with Eviner to delve deeper into her challenging work and what drives the fascinating processes behind it.

What is the process of making your artworks?

My practice is based on drawing, but I combine this with video and performance. In fact, I would prefer to call my work performative practice, because it involves many different practices coming together. The first step might be drawing, and then the second step may be reading, writing and meeting with dancers or performers. Costume design is also a very important part of the process, and I like to create stages for them. After I have done a video shooting, we edit the footage into what we generally call a composite. During this digital process, I take the many images I have and arrange them in the right place. I put my dancers or my figures in the right place, and that is my composition process. Sound design is another part of my practice, bringing together sound, movement and action. Some might call it animation, but I never have. It is a composite.

Inci Eviner, Runaway Girls (video still), 2015. Courtesy the artist

How did your practice originate?

I started making video work when I was 28, and I was teaching at a university. As it was a cross-disciplinary university, my aim was to explore the programming of basic design and combine it with different disciplines. One of those was modern dance, and the other was sound design. Learning how to use this cross-disciplinary approach in teaching was a wonderful experience.

Later on, I came across a group of dance students and we started working together. They were very open minded, because it was not the classical or conventional dance department – it was quite interdisciplinary, especially for Istanbul. I started working with this group and when they first came into the studio, I asked them, “Please forget all that you have learned about dance”. I asked them to discover the animal inside of them.

Does living in Istanbul affect you as an artist?

Politically, of course, there are issues which affect me, such as gender, which is very urgent in Turkey. Men dominate society, so my work deals with how to give a voice to women and to understand what is happening in Turkey politically. I am researching and looking for what happens behind or beneath. I pick up these dimensions of what is happening across the country, from political events to terrorist attacks.

There are many different levels to my work. One level is very connected to philosophy and the other is performative action or a reaction to all these problems. Time and space is also very important. That means many things come to me from the street, as well as books, philosophy, sociology, writing and reading. But, at the same time, I want to be very sincere in my passion, which is very important for art. I don’t want to be dictated to, and I have never been interested in political correctness.

Inci Eviner, Reenactment of Heaven, 2018. Installation view St George's Hall, Liverpool Biennial 2018. Photo: Thierry Bal

What drew you to look at women’s issues?

Currently, my work tries to focus on religion and economy and how gender connects them. I live in a Muslim society and while there are some republican females, this religion is actually very complicated for women’s freedom. Some women might consider themselves feminists, but there is a very deep conflict, and that is what I am trying to dig in to by looking at their daily lives. I would say that my works are playful as much as they are painful.

How do people respond to your work?

Now, it’s very positively, but when I was young, no one was really interested. My position in Turkey is a little bit privileged because, as a teacher, I support many young artists, especially women artists. My access to them gives some courage to those young artists. To be independent as a woman, an artist and as an individual, there is always going to be a struggle – maybe it’s like this all over, I don’t know, but it is extra difficult to an be individual and to develop yourself in Turkey.

Newly-commissioned for Liverpool Biennial 2018, Inci Eviner’s Reenactment of Heaven is being shown at St George’s Hall until 28 October.