29 June – 30 July 2016
Curator: Aslı Seven
@ Galerist Istanbul

Installation views, Casting the circle, Istanbul, 2016

The exhibition’s title refers to the multiple meanings associated with the act of casting: casting a mold to give form to matter, casting a spell or cards to see and effect the future, casting actors to play out a role, or casting a net to abstract a meaningful portion from the wider expanse of reality. Casting a circle is then to draw an impassable spatial and temporal limit that suspends the acquired knowledge of reality to suggest alternate modes of producing meaning and action; while at the same time it refers to contemporary feminist revaluations of practices of magic and witchcraft.

The circle that is cast by each one of these three artists acts as a hole within the fabric of the real. The works in the exhibition propose metamorphic relationships between altered states of consciousness, sleep and wakefulness, science and magic, human body parts and elements of landscape.


« …The “Magic on Paper” series links traditions of witchcraft to modern science as Bal’s water-marbled black circles on paper evoke both forms of stem cell imagery and the magic circle, a fundamental element in witchcraft traditions. Bal diverts the traditional artisanal form of water-marbling with her minimalistic and monochromatic use of the medium. Combined with the chance imagery of this traditional craft, the resulting forms blend traditional cultural forms with scientific imagery of microscopic views of life forms. The use of natural pigments and the ritualistic nature of the water-marbling process is also evoked in her short poem accompanying the works: 

“Aged horse’s hair tied to a rose-wood stick; Here’s thy brush! Earth & fiery coals; Here’s thy colors! At the end of each ritual are caught fractals of nature - & not symbols- on grainy surface. I look to the Universe, through both ends of this organic, telescope-paper.”

The Witch's Cabinet

Sculptures, drawings, photograph, found objects, sound
170 x 74 x 97 cm

"The water-marbled works are pinned on a steel rope, suggestive of the drying process of these same works after being pulled off of the water. This installation of the works on paper is complemented with a table display of poetic objects, texts and photographs from the artist’s studio, transforming the display into one of artistic process. Arranged on the table we see corals and seashells transformed through paint, mirror fragments, a candle and a talisman. These objects attest to the central role of magic rituals in Bal’s art-making and her positioning of female reproductive organs and artistic creativity on a common ground. The sound piece mixes the chanting of Bal’s poem by a chorus of witches with sounds collected from natural processes like rain and fire. Combined with the dark, violent and horrific tone of this sound piece Bal’s work brings to the fore questions of reclaimed female reproduction and cultural creativity in all their complexity."

Asli Seven
Paris – Istanbul, June 2016