In many ways, my practice is similar–both in terms of approach and thinking–to the Dansaekwha School that emerged in response to the questions of identity and belonging in postwar Korea. Through my paintings, I explore the motifs of Turkish kilims (rugs) to contemplate my own fragmented identity. Traditionally, each kilim motif represents a singular idea and when woven in combination with other motifs and colors, they evoke nonverbal narratives of lives lived. For example, the burr motif, depending on its positioning, represents either a nomadic lifestyle, or survivorship after displacement. The hairband motif can mean a celebration of a joyous occasion, or more strikingly, a desire for immortality, perhaps in grief of a devastating loss. This symbolic language has endured centuries of wars, migrations, and even the rise and fall of empires to communicate the joys and the sorrows of humans in a way that transcends the boundaries of time and space. As an immigrant from Turkey to the United States, and now to Switzerland, always new to somewhere, and always from elsewhere, I use these motifs to mark the twists and turns of my own journey towards belonging.
Ilknur Demirkoparan is a Turkish-born American artist whose interdisciplinary practice spans painting, sculpture, installation, performance, and digital media. Her practice explores the intersections between political power and the narration of history by tracing her own identity in time and space. While her early work evokes the bizarre and often baffling narratives of identity and otherness, with her current work, she explores the tension between erasure and endurance through the abstract language of kilims which she translates into paintings.
Demirkoparan has performed and exhibited her work at the Berlin Biennial Art Wiki Project (2012), Highways Performance Space and Gallery in Los Angeles (2013 & 2016), FAR Bazaar (2017), Mark Borghi Fine Art, NY (2022). She has an MFA from California Institute of the Arts, and a BA from University of California, Riverside. Her awards include the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Max H. Gluck Foundation fellowships. Demirkoparan is the cofounder of the MinEastry of Postcollapse Art and Culture, an artist-run space and think tank dedicated to rethinking our contemporary moment since the fall of the Berlin Wall. She currently lives and works in Zurich, Switzerland.