Eti Behar knew from a very young age she had a calling to create and she has dedicated most of her adult life to sculpture, defying all preconceptions about a woman’s career path in Istanbul, Turkey. In her works, being installations, abstract lines or expressive silhouettes, one can read between the lines her interest for relationships, personal evolution and activism, being for women or the planet sake. With studies in art and philosophy done both in Turkey and United States and a soft spot for travelling, Eti Behar is not only a global citizen, but a very astute observer, translating her notes, metaphors and perspectives into resin or metal-stories in ways never told before. “Cielo”, Eti’s recent exhibition in Istanbul, spoke about women self-discovery journey, the violence taboo and the quest for safe haven, in a world gone mad.
1. What would make your soul sing? What makes you happy?
Sincere, intimate relationships.
2. A childhood story that announced the creative person you are today:
My mother and my elder sister were very skilled in knitting and sewing. I was so willing to follow their example, but each of my knitting works turned out to be a disappointment. My mom didn’t necessarily like the outcome. I still remember that very moment when I felt that huge gap between the intention and the execution, and also the need to create something, exceeding my abilities, but didn’t know what or how.
3. Best context ever for inspiration was:
Each failure I had to go through has been an inspiration.
4. The project you loved most:
No 2 project 2010 group exhibition in Galata & my installation “Will you play with me?”
5. The project others loved most:
Cielo 2010, the ongoing expo in Kuzguncuk.
6. The best thing about Turkish creativity is:
Because of its location between Europe and Asia, Turkey has been a crossroad for many important civilizations. Historical and cultural accumulation created its own population. Looking to this cosmopolite new generation, I can say that Turkish creativity is nourished by this very rich, multilayered culture. If political interventions do not occur, Turkish creativity can expand internationally.
7. Best statement of Turkish humor:
“The dates you ate at night will come and scratch your ass in the morning”, meaning “One will always pay for the ill-gotten gains”.
8. Advice for international head hunters, related to Turkish creatives:
Create good networks in Turkey, you won’t be disappointed.
9. Best place in Istanbul:
Besides my studio? Istanbul’s historical peninsula and the Bosphorus.
10. Best Place in Turkey:
11. Your opinion on money
How sad the money has become the essence of life, so that we cannot breathe without it. I dream that one day, the younger generations will fulfill their task in starting the big change on this actual miserable system.
12. Your opinion on spirituality:
Staying connected to “soul and beauty”.
13. Recommend a book for a young creative:
“Madonna in a fur coat”, by Sabahattin Ali
Art critic Lütfiye Bozdağ on Cielo’s launch, Eti Behar’s most recent exhibition:
“Eti Behar is an artist whose works I’ve followed for many years. She builds all of her exhibits concentrating on a concept within life. The focal concept of her exhibit at IMOGA Art Space is “Cielo”, which means Heaven / Paradise in Spanish. When we look at what Eti is questioning in this exhibition, we are confronted with the desire to seek heaven in a world turned to hell. We can also assess this as the desire of the artist to create her own paradise. The desire for a heaven as an escape from evil is inevitable, and her figures are shaped around this theme. When we look at Eti’s art holistically we see the woman as encompassing and her basic archetype, the circle. There are no religious mythological figures of paradise or of Adam and Eve, banished from paradise, in Eti’s sculptures; in Eti’s Cielo, there is only woman. In the female forms she’s stylized, the artist highlights the feminine, fertile body representing abundance in primitive eras, with exaggerated rounded lines and circularity at the fore. She aestheticizes referencing the Venus of Willendorf which represents the symbol of fertility in Europe in ancient times, or Anatolia’s Kybele, the goddess of abundance adorned with forty breasts. For the artist who emphasizes that fertility and creation come from femininity, the woman is the epitome of life itself, through her ability to give birth and reproduce life. In this exhibition, Eti echoes an iconic, deified body. In all of her works, Eti puts forth an increasing aesthetic which is diversified by the round forms of the female body referring to the circle as the founding element. This aesthetic in her contemporary works is progressing towards a transgender transfiguration, beyond the female form. Neither female nor male, both female and male…representing both genders at once, or not reducing it to a single gender, a trans-body transcending gender. The artist compels us to contemplate by way of re-reading trans-figure aesthetic codes with a comprehension of gender that burgeons and transcends that of the body. Paradise, as a subject in Eti’s forms, seeks liberty not for the body itself, but as a phenomenological being beyond the body. With a seamless motion as a result of relinquishing the corners of the trans-body through the diversity afforded by abstract-geometric forms in favor of the soft turns of roundness reaching into space, she references the concept of temporality and suggests an infinite cycle. Where less is more, in the transcendence, where woman becomes man and man becomes woman, by going beyond the reason for a single-sex existence of the body and through achieving ideal forms as a figure, from trans-body to trans-aesthetic, it is highly thought provoking that it takes place in the myth of paradise”