Viola Yeşiltaç: I Really Must Congratulate You on Your Attention to Detail

February 2012

Publication: The Times

Viola Yeşiltaç, who was born in Hanover in 1975 and is now based in New York, is fascinated by the way two-dimensional surfaces can assume apparent solidity under certain conditions. Employing photography to record a series of carefully positioned coloured sheets of paper, Yeşiltaç creates playful and engaging visual conundrums, which invite the viewer to provide narratives and explanations for these subtle constructions.


In some works Yeşiltaç’s methodology is transparent and so may be read as one sheet of coloured paper propped against another. More often than not, however, the construction of these patterns and masses of colour is obscure and what we are left with is pure form. This led to one astute observer commenting that Yeşiltaç’s work was not primarily photography but, rather, sculpture.


It is, more accurately, about the relationship between photography and form; between what is being represented and how this representation is achieved.


Scale and position are important elements in Yeşiltaç’s work.   Her photographs of A4-sized paper are greatly enlarged so the original relationship between the object and its normal size is lost. This, combined with the positioning of these enormous images on the gallery floor, completes a series of disorienting transformations so that the original notion of a photographed familiar object all but disappears.


This is a technique made familiar by the surrealist photographers such as Man Ray – a tradition to which Yeşiltaç implicitly refers.  The notion of scale is clearly important to Yeşiltaç as she places glass tumblers – tall, perplexing paperweights which cast intriguing shadows – on her floor pieces in order to provide a visual context for these works.


Echoing  her floor-works is the enormous wall painting ‘Mode of practice’ done in situ in a stairwell. The college authorities should be persuaded to retain this.  A simple, bold black line painted on vivid vermillion depicts what might be the outline of another sheet of paper, folded at one corner.


One of Yeşiltaç’s concerns is to explore the ‘ordinary’ and render it extraordinary. She has, for example, taken multiple black and white photographs of her New York apartment onto which she has added lines and motifs. After re-photographing these, she then projects the modified images via two carousel projectors onto wall-mounted marble slabs. By this simple technique, the highly adapted images are surfaced, patterned and textured creating work that combines elements of photography, sculpture, installation and drawing.


This is Yeşiltaç’s ultimate purpose: the testing of categorisation and visual taxonomy. It’s an end in which she succeeds brilliantly.