This month, the Tophane-i Amire Culture and Arts Center in Istanbul hosts a very special exhibition by Yaşam Şaşmazer called Metanoia, a psychological term that refers to the process of reforming the psyche for self-healing during psychological breakdowns or an existential crisis. In her current series, Şaşmazer manages to merge her artistic talent and aesthetic perception with a challenging theory and meaningful concepts. Staying true to the original theme, the artist simplifies the “metanoia” term to describe a “productive act” in which there is transformation and change.
In her well-balanced series of artistic installations, Şaşmazer’s real-life sized protagonists are old and strong. They are neither helpless nor melodramatic. Dressed in black, they stand in unity with their shadows — as if both accept their relationship as a part of their being. Consequently the shadows have an equal formal and conceptual importance with the protagonist of the scene. Due to the shadow’s unbreakable physical relation with the falls and floors, the protagonists are too deeply involved with their surrounding physical space.
Most of the installations show a positive outcome of the power struggle between the protagonist and the shadow. Some scenes depict the internal fight of the characters, while others exhibit a haunted peace between the shadow and the protagonist. In a way, Şaşmazer’s selected scenes reveal the impact of the unconscious hidden in our psyche, sometimes presenting ways to deal with various shadows.
Metanoia is a striking exhibition with bold presentations of the on-going fight between people and their shadows — their darkness, if you will. Her sculptures communicate strong feelings with deep artistic thought. Şaşmazer does an exceptional job discussing the dark and bright sides, as well as the productive and destructive characters, of the psychological state in her emotionally moving and intellectually challenging installations.