Umay Yilmaz’s first exhibition “Neverland”
By Heidi Trautmann
It is rather weird to go through the quarter by night around the Selemiye Mosque all by yourself, occasionally you meet a cat playing with an empty tin. I went to attend the opening of ESKI, a new venue in one of the side streets around the mosque, just behind the sort of antiquity shop. It was dark, and I thought I was wrong, but then I saw a crowd of people standing in the road, attentively listening to a voice sounding through the emptiness; it was Aliye Ummanel, introducing with philosophical words the new art venue ESKI behind her. It was like theatre. She gave the word to Umay Yilmaz as first young artist to officially lift the ‘iron curtain’ in the true meaning of the word because it is the aim to offer an open space for use by young artists, writers, actors and performers. With warm words Umay waved the guests in: Come in, follow me, this is it; and we followed her into an inner courtyard, the courtyard of a former hardware shop, Aliye explained. Lights were dimmed, I felt a shudder creep up my spine: a space where the past had been enclosed for a long time.
Umay and Aliye have thought of leaving the place as they have found it more or less for the theme Umay was working on: ‘Neverland’…No connection to this country….a country behind barbed wire….with minimal gestures Umay hints at problems which are decades old; a piece of plaster to mend the broken walls, the wounds; a drying rack fitted with barbed wire and the woman’s underwear gone with some shreds left; some frames with wire embroidery, traumatic really; the atmosphere like a stage, the guests like shadows, moving, creating blocks, then individual shapes, mostly young people, artists I know, theatre people…
A badly needed place for the young art scene….and as Aliye Ummanel, dramaturg at the Nicosia Municipality Theatre and co-founder with Umay says with her words: … “We hope it will be the basis for "Newness". We hope it will be "Hope" for young, independent artists here and we hope we will find each other and create together here.” Just one more tentative step to survive here.
On one of the plates describing one of Umay’s installations is the following text:
ESKI - Today, this old, eclectic “place” which was formed through extensions made within a century-old building, stands in front of us like a country metaphor with its rough floor, worn-out walls, dripping rooftop and leaking joints.
With this peculiarity, it is both captivating and scary. Because,inside, it was dark and we found remains of cats which had died of hunger and suffocation when we first opened its door. Then, do these cats become our own metaphor? Are we doomed as we keep staying enclosed in this peculiar place and continue to live in solitary pursuit of self adventure?
What if we find each other? What if we let the air in by opening two small windows? Then, probably, this place cannot cause us to suffocate. The old becomes a foundation for the new. A space for creation. A space for life. Then, we create and live.
Artists that are confronted with this space when planning an exhibition of their own will have to deal with the atmosphere, it is not neutral, it demands respect, it has a life of its own, which will make it the more interesting.
ESKI is close to Selemiye Mosque in Nicosia behind the Antiquity shop in 22 M.Effendi Sokak
The exhibition will be open until Wednesday Feb 27th, until 18:00. Contact number: 05338487037 (my number).
You can also visit their website or facebook:
The next exhibition is planned for March with Sevcan Cerkez, the well-known ceramic artist. I will inform accordingly.
Monday to Friday: 10:00 - 16:30
Saturday:: 10:00 - 13:00