Working with found garments and domestic fabrics, Gözde Ilkin is interested in objects that embody cultural codes and collective memory. She uses these clothes and textiles as intimate materials that carry the traces of history, while devising her own contemporary imagery through such techniques as needlework and stitching, as well as painting. A careful attention to line, used both figuratively and in abstract forms, dovetails with her focus on patterns, whether those representing social and political relationships, confrontation and definitions of power, or gender and urban histories. For Ilkin, patterns in fabrics are structures that bridge memory and the present, the imagined and the real.
For the Istanbul Biennial, Ilkin presents a number of works constructed from domestic fabrics that come from her family. Dowry sheets, curtains or tablecloths are modified using techniques such as cutting, perforating, disassembly, appliqué and fastening, some of which she learned directly from her mother and grandmother, who also taught her to weave. The imagery that she has incorporated into the works is culled from family photographs. The effect, as well as the multiplicity of styles and reference points, is to counteract and render unstable the normativity of family life – making it ‘disjunctive’, to borrow a word used in one of the works in her series Inverted Home (2017). With such titles as Adjacent Territory and Bonds of Love, The Individual Footing, the Layout Plan, and The Deficient Joint Gap, the series investigates the borders of the home, and points out the contradictions of the safe spaces within, the intransigence of memory, and the controversies that persist within social and family settings. At-Home Day (2009) combines floral motifs with what appear to be four women while Boys Eat Turkish Delight (2008) presents a domestic scene in which three men are seen playfully feeding each other at a table.