‘What would have happened if history had been written by a woman?’ and also, ‘what would have happened if the defeaters and the victors had sat down at the same table to tell us the events of our past history?’ We will never know the answers but we could certainly say that our vision would be different, totally different. In a way, it is not very useful for our progress to stand still at ‘we could have’, ‘we should have’ or ‘would have been better if’. Looking critically at the narratives of history, searching for progress that is not based on the winner-defeated, giving back a voice to the many cultures that have been swallowed up by the Western vision, are just some of the things we can do to restore dignity to the very sense of history.
This is what Esra Sakir does with her research, she is constantly concerned with achieving hybridisation. Sakir wants to recreate woman empowerment, life replicating a figure that is related to mothers, such as Mother Earth or Mother Goddess, and a new way to re-read history. In fact, looking at Esra’s sculptures is like the petrifaction of those topics. We can see from her approach the tensions between prehistoric and classical, modern and traditional, abstract and figurative, combined with the use of classical lines and her more modern abstraction of form. Her sculptures bring all of these elements together.
These sculptures spark curiosity, she wants to explore the human condition through the production of her fertile figures, emblems of matriarchal traditions and mother goddess iconography. Full of life, resilient and descendants of Venus, these portraits of women represent the way of seeing the world that the artist has discovered.
Esra Sakir seeks to throw off the classical monumentality of sculpture and embrace it at the same time: the sculptures do not have feet like the propitiatory Venuses of antiquity, and some of them do not have arms like some Roman and Greek statues have arrived to us, and at last, they are polished to bring us back to the contemporary. With this mix, Esra’s sculptures raise another fundamental question: not only ‘what did women represent?’, but ‘how are women seen historically?’. It is not about opposing classicism but more about embracing the transversality of history, because it is by accepting relativity that we own a fragmented body where we can find some resolution. Her figures are at once both near and remote, like and unlike; they force the viewer into a vital confrontation with the past and the present, such as the known and the unknown.
As can be seen from this thread, everything is part of a route, like a progression. Such is the upcoming workshops Matter & Found Forms that we are hosting in New Metropolis Nieuw-West. This collaborative initiative is aimed to build a mosaic sculpture that not only serves as a symbol of hope and unity but also empowers the community through education in the art of sculpture making. In order to do that, the artist will guide us to discover the essence of what clay is made of and how we can mould it together around a table. In this workshop the sculpture, with its physical objectivity, will be used to explore, through modeling we will discuss the main topics we have mentioned above, such as the position of the woman in history and the absurdity of the historical narrative of the Middle East in a western scenario.
The artist has always been concerned about the truth, and how this can be transmitted. For instance, the fact that the surface in her sculptures are not perfectly slick, is to represent the body in torment. Also, we can see some dissected statues, like tree trunk slices, to represent everything that we have gone through, as well as the way that women are perceived. Those are some of the reasons that bring her to decide to represent the human form – a representation of humanity, love, community — to make sense of the mistakes that are transpired.
On the 19th of October and the 23rd of November Esra Sakir will host clay workshops in New Metropolis Nieuw-West. Join her and discover more about the material and how to create various sample sculptures. During these sessions, we will work together and exchange ideas, messages, and values and we will explore how to translate them into tangible shapes. The workshops will last two hours, all material will be provided.