Focusing on history, nature and archaeology, subjects such as ancestral seeds, memory, lack of communication and ecological destruction have always been at the center of Börüteçene's works. The "Land of the Three Inland Seas" exhibition, which traces 40 years, is at Salt Beyoğlu.

Handan Börüteçene is an artist who has been out of sight for a while, even though her art production has been continuing for more than 40 years. Maybe it's because he brought up topics that are almost popular today, with his works 30 years ago, that they are not so visible today. Because those words were already spoken 30 years ago! On the other hand, the artist continued to produce.

Focusing on history, nature and archaeology, subjects such as ancestral seeds, memory, lack of communication and ecological destruction have always been at the center of Börüteçene's works.

“The areas we leave empty are as valuable as the areas we leave full. He clarifies this state of silence by saying, "The areas in which we remain silent are as important as what we say, or the exhibitions you refuse to be in are as important as the exhibitions you are in." Maybe that's why his exhibition, which traced 40 years at Salt Beyoğlu last Tuesday, caused many to ask the artist, "Where have you been?" It opened with the question:

"Working on the exhibition was like excavating"
This is the artist's most comprehensive exhibition to date. Its name refers to Börüteçene's cultural heritage, the lands of Anatolia and Thrace, where he was inspired by myths and where he was in constant dialogue with historical figures:

The exhibition brings to the fore many works of the artist, from his early works for his graduation project to his award-winning installation "Rip/See" (1985), from the "terracotta" series he showed at Urart Art Gallery in 1987 to his large-scale sculptures placed in public spaces in Istanbul. Amira Akbıyıkoğlu, who programmed the exhibition, says, "When we had an in-depth conversation with Ms. Handan, I discovered her works that I had never known before." That's when Handan enters the Böreteçene universe.

“Many people may not know about these jobs here. Working on the exhibition was like digging, and many of his works were full of references to his own past. "On the other hand, Handan Hanım seemed to be doing her own archaeology."

birth writings
Because this is a universe; This is a world with the excavation sites and villages he has visited step by step for many years, the "birth writings" of his exhibitions, the historical figures he talks to, his storytelling and ultimately the works he produces. Of course, it is necessary to add to this universe that the artist does not prefer to be represented by a gallery.

While listening to his work in his own words, we also witness Börüteçene's storytelling.

Handan Börüteçene starts each of her exhibitions with "birth writings". Those writings make visible the layered artistic way of thinking. It is possible to see these birth inscriptions on the walls in the exhibition spread over three floors in Salt.

To prevent the memory mirror from getting dusty, Börüteçene says the following:

“This is the first time we are in such a comprehensive exhibition where I show these works of mine. There is a completely different world behind these works. In that world you would never imagine; A grandfather collecting grass in a plateau village in the Taurus Mountains, an iron stonemason in a small town, all the books you read, all the excavation sites or the trees that passersby notice when they pay attention, each of the ecological layers has a place here.

“I thank this city, the city where I was born and raised, where my ancestors sleep, the city of the three inland seas. If they hadn't carved it, I wouldn't be like this. Throughout this process, I realized how important memory is. “I did everything to keep that mirror from getting dusty.”

Sappho's lost verses
The exhibition opens with the artist's 2023 productions in the forum section, which is perceived as a continuation of Istiklal Street with the arrangement of the columns at the entrance. So, in the lost words of the Ancient Greek lyric poet Sappho.
“Even if she is not alive, in real life she is actually Sappho for me. “I visit him, and sometimes he invites me,” says the artist.

"Sappho's lost poems were found. But I realized that there were lost words and even lines in her old poems. And the translators somehow completed those lines in their own language.

“I wondered what Sappho would say and decided to complete her lost words with glass spheres.”

The artist is also a name that organized the first personal exhibition in the history of Hagia Irene. It is also possible to see works from this exhibition in 1991 on the ground floor.

Declaration of loss for the work; When the works begin to be collected from the collections for this comprehensive exhibition, it turns out that some of the works are missing. Although this situation happens to many artists, it falls into a somewhat strange place when we consider Börüteçene's works weighing up to 400, 500 kilos. That's why a tip line is being established. And they produce ghosts of works that they wanted to have in the exhibition but could not find. Akbıyıkoğlu said, “While visiting the exhibition, you will see ghost works. "There is also a lost declaration for every work that we cannot find and want to show in the exhibition," he says.


The artist, who graduated from the ceramics department of the Istanbul State Academy of Fine Arts in 1981, settled in Paris and worked in the sculpture workshops of Georges Jeanclos and César (Baldaccini) at l'École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts for two years. He also opens his first personal exhibition in Paris. On the other hand, she continues to participate in important exhibitions held in Istanbul.

He opened his first personal exhibition in Turkey at Urart Art Gallery in 1987. Works from this period are located on the third floor of Salt. The artist, who worked a lot on women's issues after the 70s, says that this exhibition has always been women-themed.

28 years ago about the ancestral seed issue
The memory cases in his "Memory of the Earth" series, which he created in 1995, look at the issue of ancestral seeds from 28 years ago.

In this series, the artist discusses cultural continuity through the Anatolian flora that has existed since the Hittite period. In line with the information in the Hattuşa (Boğazköy) tablets, he produces "memory cases" in which the various herbs and seeds he collects from the Kızılırmak spring are intertwined with the soil from the Troy and Aiolis regions. The concept of earth's memory focuses on the fact that for the artist there is no such thing as a dead culture, and that every culture continues to live in layers.

"I traveled from village to village to collect ancestral seeds. I said my word in 1995. Art may not have the ability to change things, I am only commenting on my own behalf," adds the artist.

"We can't communicate"
His work "Tools Without Mass Communication etc etc zzz… bızzz", dated 1987, is based on the contradiction that as mass media increases, it brings with it lack of communication.

“As these vehicles get higher and higher, you start not being able to communicate. I combine these tools, which enable mass communication, with pastes and turn them into a closed box. Because we can't really communicate. There are vehicles from the 80's on this floor. "On the lower floor of the exhibition, you will see it with today's tools."

The viewer is greeted by a quadrangular adobe building, which is an example of the Neolithic residences in Hacılar and Çatalhöyük. Its interior is filled with everyday objects, from technological devices to newspapers, banknotes and grocery items. This work, which has a prominent place in the contemporary art narrative of Turkey, invites the viewer to break cuneiform clay tablets with mallets.

“All these items are sacred dead, we live our lives for them. The Neolithic period was the only period in which people lived in peace and harmony. After that, it's the end of us."

*"Land of the Three Inner Seas" is at Salt Beyoğlu until April 14, 2024.