Marcelle Joseph Projects proudly presents Unseen Memories, a solo exhibition of new work created by London-based Turkish artist Güler Ates at the House of St Barnabas before it was converted into the world's first charitable private members' club in 2013.
In line with Güler’s prior time-based practice, her new work explores notions of female identity as seen through the lens of the artist’s own experiences of cross-cultural displacement as well as accepted models of culture in the West. In these new works, a 21st century woman fully covered in swathes of brightly coloured silk reminiscent of a “veil” with all its contemporary Western readings is positioned against the backdrop of this Grade I listed Georgian building. This juxtaposition of the old and the new as well as Middle Eastern exoticism and Victorian propriety are common themes in Güler’s practice. The model’s costume in this new series is often adorned with domestic utensils used in the kitchen and dining room to make and serve food, sustenance that was provided to London’s homeless by the House of St Barnabas charity since its founding in 1862.
Playing on the history of this house as a women’s hostel since the Second World War and up until 2006, Ates titles this show, the fourth solo exhibition with Marcelle Joseph Projects, Unseen Memories, honouring the reminiscences of the ex-service women and other women who were provided a place of refuge and solace by the House of St Barnabas. According to the charity, temporary guests at 1 Greek Street included “all who found themselves in a condition of friendlessness and destitution that is not the manifest result of idleness or vice.” Finding resonance in the artist’s own autobiography of diaspora and displacement in her home country as a result of her family’s Kurdish and Zaza origins in eastern Turkey, Ates pays tribute to the “mental home that we carry wherever we go”.