Paul Groot

The nefesh in the talcum powder

about Nezaket Ekici's performance in Mediamatic Supermarket

The history of artistic performances contains a long list of ingredients and props, but as far as I know talcum/baby powder has never been used before.


Performance Nezaket Ekici in Mediamatic Supermarkt -


Performance Nezaket Ekici in Mediamatic Supermarkt 1 -

Then again, perhaps there once was an artist that had just become a mother and in her unmeasurable joy decided to do something fun with her baby. Like when Maxima used the somewhat immature prince Willem-Alexander to present her daughter to the public. But even if that was the case, the talcum powder would have only taken on a supporting role. In Nezaket Ekici's performance the talcum powder has a leading part, or should we say talcum powder's behavioral aspects do. In a performance lasting almost two hours she gave herself the difficult task of blowing a thick layer of talcum powder, bit by bit, off a table, into the room. In a seance (or rather: exercise) that was just as hilarious as it was serious she managed to blow a large amount of powder into the room.


Performance Nezaket Ekici in Mediamatic Supermarkt 2 -

It was not the first time that Ekici did this specific performance, but it was the first time it was staged in Amsterdam. The documentation of an earlier edition in Berlin was reminiscent of a squatter party-like formula, an image of a strong romantic-artistic atmosphere, with beautiful bleached photographs that almost suggested something stemming from horror. The wrong impression, because those who came to Amsterdam encountered a completely different atmosphere. The relatively small space available in the Mediamatic Supermarket had a more clinical than romantic feel to it. In comparison to the table in Berlin, the new improvised table had a far harsher design, and was covered with a substance that was unmistakably talcum powder, if you could smell the penetrating odor. Nezaket Ekici, dressed in a white toga, sat on the table as some sniffing, blowing, heavily breathing creature, displacing the white substance from the table into the room. Yes, she was dressed in white, but what did she mainly remind us of? Not completely of a hissing, caged lion that sought freedom, nor of a snake hunting its prey, nor of a recently resurrected Christ, nor of a patient in an experimental hospital drama, but a bit of each of these, and a few more. And this, while Ekici did nothing except blow the table clean and spread the talcum powder around. But still, with the penetrating smell and the white apparel of Nezaket Ekici, this all had a space-hygiene like character.


Performance Nezaket Ekici in Mediamatic Supermarkt 3 -

Almost two hours late Ekici stopped her performance, clearly exhausted from the almost unbearable physical stress she had imposed upon herself. But she recuperated quickly, since she's pretty tough: Nezaket Ekici created a frenzy when she, dressed in a Turkish countryside outfit, did a hula hoop performance, not so very long ago. A very challenging and touching happening, done at on of the Mediamatic Supermarket Salons, where she, while you could read the anguish on the faces of the audience, spun the hula hoop around her neck instead of her waist! More surprising still was that the hoop somehow suddenly posessed all kinds of political echoes. As if she, by injecting her strong traditional background into the artistic performance, wanted to somehow comment on Turkey's possible entrance in the European Union. With unbreakable self conscience she entered the traditional western performance art, and excelled beyond almost everyone. Well, the tradition never was truly western, because one of the biggest names is still Marina Abramovic, of Yugoslavic descent. It is thus not surprising that she is one of Ekici's teachers; but that you can still send such a strong signal on such strong regional grounds in such a tradition must have delighted Abramovic as well.


Performance Nezaket Ekici in Mediamatic Supermarkt 4 -

And indeed, you could not avoid the question: how large was Abramovic's influence on the talcum powder blowing performance? Of course you could link the design of this physical achievement to a certain tradition, you could see it as and ode to the legend Abramovic. Or does Nezaket Ekici not refer to the legendary performance of Abramovic and Ulay, those muted sitting sessions at a table decorated with gold, performed at various locations in the eighties?


Performance Nezaket Ekici in Mediamatic Supermarkt 5 -

nefesh, which is related to breath and soul, to the greek thumos, life soul, and maybe also to pneuma, the greek word for wind, breath, soul, wanting to try, it is clear that Nezaket Ekici wants to say a lot more that is clear upon the first viewing. We will have to await her next work to open new possibilities and ideas.

translated by Nadya Peek