Lale Tara, "Lolita con Bambino", 2015, edition of 4 + 1 AP, archival print on semi matte fine art paper, 140 x 154cm. Image courtesy of Yavuz Gallery and the artist.
Lale Tara, “Lolita con Bambino”, 2015, edition of 5 + 1 AP, C – print, 120 x 132cm. Image courtesy of Yavuz Gallery and the artist.

Lale Tara is known for creating surreal, visually evocative and often provocative photographic works, posing a life-size doll as her Doppelgänger. Her narrative photography constructs alternative realities and explores the themes of blurred dualities, bringing forth tendencies that run counter to dominant cultural canons, intentionally treading the line between different artistic media, between history and contemporaneity, between cultures, between self and other. In her latest series, Tara filters her favourite female characters from well-known works of Western literature and opera, and crafts them along the axis of her own imagination. The meticulously staged photographs in Reverse Exotic, sometimes arranged as elliptical narratives in large-scale diptychs and triptychs, depict famous characters such as Miss Havisham and Estella from Dickens’ Great Expectations, Konstanze from Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio, and Lolita from Nabokov’s novel of the same name, all with the psychological drama and grandeur of opera stills.

Reverse Exotic presents a reversal of gaze towards the West as the exotic Other. An artist of Eastern origin, Tara hails from Istanbul, a Gateway of East and West that has long been depicted in Western art through the exotic and fetishizing lens of Orientalism. Here, she appropriates these exotic musings by isolating them from their geographic, political and cultural associations, and integrating them into her own artistic vocabulary. Tara’s use of a technologically humanized replica as her central protagonist and her self-representation in front of the camera, allows her to weave real human emotions into fictional events. Custom designed costumes, contemporary fetishized fashion and fads, studio settings and backdrops, also play a role in de-contextualizing and re-contextualizing the ‘exotic’.

Lale Tara, Estella "by ourselves again", 2015, edition of 4 + 1 AP, archival print on semi matte fine art paper, 180 x 120cm. Image courtesy of Yavuz Gallery and the artist.
Lale Tara, Estella “by ourselves again”, 2015, edition of 5 + 1 AP, C – print, 180 x 120cm. Image courtesy of Yavuz Gallery and the artist.

The protagonists of Reverse Exotic are not to be seen as mere Eastern constructs of the exotic West. Rather, they exist in alternative realities that share an uncanny similar trajectory of human experiences. They are constructed as surrogates with hybrid identities, and serve the purpose of reframing, redefining, and disrupting traditional ideas and expectations about art, gender and society, such as beauty, originality, representation, and authority.

Reverse Exotic highlights a cultural phenomenon of contemporary society, in which self-invention and notions of identity and identification as processes of ongoing construction, play an essential part. (Excerpt from the catalogue.)

Lale Tara (b. 1957) lives and works in Istanbul, Turkey. She is known for taking surreal, visually evocative and often provocative photographs of a life-size doll as her Doppelgänger, juxtaposed with alienated and abandoned locations. Film-like production goes behind every project, where Tara, as a writer, producer and photographer, along with celebrated costume designers and experienced crew members, sets up a shot on location to create events of the photographs.

Tara has exhibited extensively in the Middle East, Asia and Europe, including group and solo exhibitions at Istanbul Modern (Turkey). Her works are included in the Salsali Private Museum (Dubai, UAE), Samawi Collection (Dubai, UAE), Istanbul Modern (Turkey) and the Sevil Sabanci Collection (Turkey).

Opening Night: Friday, 25 September 2015, 7-11pm

On view: 26 September to 7 November 2015

For inquiries and more information, please contact Irene Fung at [email protected] or Tel: +65 6734 3262.