In a poignant exploration of resilience and transformation, the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) unveiled its latest installation, “Shattered,” by Turkish artist Felekşan Onar.
The thought-provoking exhibition, which opened to the public yesterday, delves into the inherent strength that emerges from adversity, focusing on the recent earthquakes that wreaked havoc in southeast Turkiye and northern Syria, causing a staggering loss of over 55,000 lives. “Onar’s work deals with human displacement. Her creative journey explores the profound impact that political unrest, war, and natural disasters have on people,” MIA explained on its website.
The exhibition is located at Damascus Room, where visitors are greeted by a mesmerising collection of meticulously crafted glass birds. These birds, chosen by Onar as her symbolic language, and glass, her preferred medium, serve as representations of both fragility and strength, mirroring the experience of communities affected by natural disasters, explained MIA.
What sets Onar’s artistry apart is her technique in creating these glass birds. She employs a traditional Japanese method known as Kintsugi, typically used for repairing ceramics. This technique involves mending broken pieces with gold, leaving the fractures visible, symbolising the beauty that arises from transformation and change.
MIA said: “Onar associates these cracks with the damage caused by the disaster but, in doing so, emphasises the beauty that arises from transformation and change. Onar uses her glass birds as a contemporary commentary on politics, society and history.”
“Shattered” builds upon the success of Onar’s earlier acclaimed project, “Perched,” which made its debut in the Aleppo Room at the Pergamon Museum and subsequently graced the halls of institutions such as the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Damascus Room at Dresden State Museums.
“These birds, serving as symbols of both fragility and strength, undergo a process of repair and restoration, mirroring the healing experienced in the aftermath of natural disasters. The incorporation of gold, further emphasizes the beauty that arises from imperfections and the profound journey of transformation,” according to Onar’s website.
Visitors to the Museum of Islamic Art can experience “Shattered” in the Damascus Room, located in Gallery 12.
The exhibition is open to the public and will be on display until May 7, 2024. Entrance to the exhibit is complimentary with museum admission.