Exhale, 2017

HD video; black-and-white, sound

2:59 min.

Courtesy of the artist


“I am the missing link of sometimes … and the universe, myself. Who was this?

In this moment, I cannot accept my estranged reality. The state I’m in – we are both in – we all are in. I know that I have traveled the time … not only the the place … not only the city. This story will never end … even when I exhale for the last time in this life, in this sad … mad … and lost life of Elektra.”


– Excerpt from Life of Elektra (2012), by Taline Temizian



Taline Temizian’s video work Exhale originated as screenplay the artist wrote between 2007 and 2015. A semi-fictional memoir set in an estranged reality, Life of Elektra depicts Temizian poised on an emotional and intellectual precipice, considering the influential and challenging events in her life. Described by the artist as a “memoir of myself as an artist,” Life of Elektra collapses the division between art and self, depicting the alter-ego of Temizian as “artist”, wrestling with anxiety and despair so profound that it leads to madness, while also understanding that her creative expression is a beacon of hope – her only way through. Art imitates life in Temizian’s screenplay as composing prose and poetry (her father was also a poet as well as a cardiologist) has traditionally been an essential part of her practice – like other painters who have influenced her work including Pablo Picasso and Kazimir Malevich– both as an emotional catharsis and a generative activity.


Exhale brings Temizian’s screenplay to life, as the artist herself performs the central monologue from Life of Elektra, catalyzed by the British filmmaker and artist Max Maxwell’s newly composed score. Using costuming, makeup, movement and vocalization, Temizian lays herself bare in a performance underpinned by a host of references that make up the artist’s oeuvre. While the influence of performance art practices by Vito Acconci and Marina Abramović from the 1960s and 1970s are evidenced in Temizian’s public confrontation of inner-space, her movement brings to mind Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights choreography and her methods are decidedly informed by The Stanislavski System. The mise-en-scène of Exhale oscillates between Commedia dell’arte and Bauhaus, with a nod to Robert Wilson’s opera The Black Rider: The Casting of Magic Bullets (1990). Temizian adopts the dramatic stage make-up of Dominique Horwitz as “Pegleg,” Wilson’s satanic ringmaster, and incorporates recognizable motifs from her own paintings (the bisected face and the single red eye) in order to pull back the curtain – depicting the artist as her own work.


This work marks a cumulative and transitional point in the trajectory of Temizian’s practice –  both with regards to the preoccupations of her inquiry and her strategies of manifestation. The artist’s early work employed painting, drawing and collage to explore emotional experiences and themes, often represented by the symbol of the heart, as seen in the Cardiac Distortion Series (2010-2016). Temizian’s current work with The Networks Project (2016 – ongoing) looks away from inner space as a non-cognitive landscape represented by the heart, towards a science-based conception personified by the forms and functions of the brain. Taking as its totem the German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich’s Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (1818), Exhale sits between these two periods in Temizian’s body of work, simultaneously imbued with the gestural passion of her historical position and systematically casting its gaze towards a kinetic future.


Exhale debuted as a part of curator Vanya Balogh’s satellite project The Age of Anxiety – Empire II during the 2017 Biennale di Venezia and has toured with this exhibition to Carter Lane Gallery, London, and Brussels Art Week, in association with Frédéric de Goldschmidt and John Adams Brussels, Belgium. A limited edition catalogue for The Age of Anxiety – Empire II has been published by Studio Viktor Hotz, Zürich.


Upcoming presentations of Exhale will be announced shortly.


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