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Sweet Garden of Vanishing Desires, a three person exhibition with Olivia Strange and Deborah Tchoudjinoff, curated by Deniz Kirkali 

Exhibition text by Deniz Kirkali

Exhibition poster design by Serra Sensoy 

Downloadable version at the bottom of the page



13 September 2023

ArtOn Pera


Ülgen Semerci, Deborah Tchoudjinoff, Olivia Strange

Curator: Deniz Kırkalı

Sweet Garden of Vanishing Desires

Sweet Garden of Vanishing Desires, bringing together works of Ülgen Semerci, Deborah Tchoudjinoff and Olivia Strange, curated by Deniz Kırkalı, looks at how pleasure and desire are explored, expected, pursued and expressed in times of multiple crises we are going through. How do we act on our conflicting desires, especially when we consider the impact of the ecological crisis on the entire living world, albeit under different contexts, scales and conditions, and in times when loss, grief, and anxiety define our collective emotional map? How do we grieve in the absence of what no longer exists or something on the brink of happening? How do these desires contradict each other and require constructing alternative ways of being?


In times dictated by anxiety and the unknown, facing a certain future puts people on a libidinal threshold and requires surrendering and letting go of control (as well as accepting that we were never in control to begin with). At the same time, while continuing to exist in this dilemma, it renders our desires even more visible. Sweet Garden of Vanishing Desires, which deals with the feelings of love, loss, mourning, longing and pleasure, assumes that desire is not only human, singular and consistent. It approaches pursuing these desires as a queer form of resistance, a posthuman proposal to live together, a method of remembering what no longer exists, and as a form of speculating the future we face collectively. Ülgen Semerci's three-channel video and installation works deal with attachment styles, love, nature, and power balances, Olivia Strange's painting and sculptures transform queer desire and the notion of jouissance, and finally, Deborah Tchoudjinoff's installation which constructs speculative worlds based on various minerals, invites to remember what is no longer and to contemplate future narratives.


Desire is not always a positive emotion; on the contrary, it is an intense tension shaped by our relations with different others, which may evoke violence and destruction. In the increasingly digitized world and in the aftermath of the pandemic, with the absence of bodies, we are witnessing the disappearance of desire that is not reduced to only the erotic and the sexual. However, for this very reason, pursuing desire and pleasure means revolting against human and labor exploitation and the value parameters brought by the capitalist system. As such, desire creates new possibilities for engagement and collective action. Remembering and mourning the lost pleasures and continuing to anticipate pleasure has great potential to be a worldmaking practice. 

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