Suzanne Lovell Inc

Fine Art

Jennifer Steinkamp’s inspiring Istanbul installation

April 24, 2016

Jennifer Steinkamp, Eye Catching, 2003. Video projections, 3, each 20 X 14 ft 

All images courtesy of the artist.

With Jennifer Steinkamp‘s Times Square, Midnight Moment installation coming up May 1-31, 2016, we wanted to feature one of our favorite projects by the L.A.- based artist. 

Eye Catching is Steinkamp‘s installation at the Istanbul Modern (2003), a site-specific work that responds to the Medusa heads in the Yerebatan Cistern and the power of female sexuality to invoke fear and paranoia in men. It’s the projection of this awesome, powerful beauty within an aesthetic (historic) space where one contends with time and movement in experience….THIS is a concept that we naturally meld with and return to again and again as we create site-specific installations in interiors, a sprinkling of fairy dust that invigorates and uplifts the everyday. It’s this experience of the story, in the round, that is so moving.

The Yerebatan Cistern, or Sunken Palace, lies beneath Istanbul, and was built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. Originally a great Basilica built in between the 3rd and 4th centuries, it is said to have contained gardens surrounded by a colonnade and faced the Hagia Sophia. 7,000 slaves were involved in the construction of the 6th century Cistern, which provided a water filtration system for the Great Palace of Constantinople and other buildings until modern times.

The artist said of this project: “I researched the incredible story of Medusa, realizing there is a very feminist psychological interpretation of the tale. Medusa is an extraordinarily beautiful woman, she was raped by a sea god, then through jealousy she was transformed by the Goddess Athena into an incredible monster with serpentine hair and a gaze that would turn men to stone. One interpretation could be that this is the ultimate extension of the power of female sexuality (stone as erection), and the fear and paranoia this can invoke in men. I created the serpentine trees to add to the enchanted environment of the cistern, as if Medusa’s sensuality transformed the environment and everything around her.”

Image courtesy of The New York Times

We have been lucky to connect with this artist regarding client commissions, a very special opportunity for the collector!

Here, another collector had Jennifer Steinkamp’s “Eye Catching” (2003) video installed in a 1915 Pump House which sits adjacent to their residence. The collectors had the pump house renovated by the architect Gary Cunningham – It still contains all of its pump equipment and can be flooded with some four inches of water for special occasions like barefoot black-tie parties.