Queens College exhibit explores evil eye mysticism

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Often when a tourist visits Turkey they’ll see an eye drawn on a door or knocker in the shape of a hand. This is the Nazar, a talisman against the evil eye, a curse directed at a person or thing the spell caster dislikes or envies. Now the evil eye is the subject of a fascinating art exhibit at Queens College Art Center.

Called “Amulets, Nazars & Evil Eyes: Artists Looking Forward,” it’s part of Queens College’s “Year of Turkey: Exploring Past, Present, Future.” The exhibit features the works of more than a dozen artists, not all of Turkish descent, including Jonas Angelet, Adam Cooper-Terán, Asya Dodina & Slava Polishchuk, Rehab El-Sadek, Anujan Ezhikode, Roya Farassat, Julia Forrest, Becky Franco, Flore Gardner, Reineke Hollander, Beth Krensky, Batya Kuncman, Howard Lerner, Anush Mirbegian, Zac Monday, Shervone Neckles, Yasemin Ozsavasci Nehan, Carin Riley Shelton Walsmith and others.

Not all of the artworks were made specifically for this exhibit, though they were all chosen as a response to the theme. The works are in different media and range from spooky to quirky to humorous. In Walsmith’s “The White Album No. 66,” a digital photograph shows the sort of toy eyeball a person might get from Archie McPhee’s joke store clipped to something that looks like a key ring.

On the other hand, the Dutch artist Reineke Hollander’s “Dead Fetishes Waiting for a Ceremony” is by turns playful and unsettling. It’s a mixed media collection of brightly colored, unnamable, vaguely African objects. Some are fixed in neat rows to a wall, while the rest lie in a jumble on the floor. Many are covered in what looks like fish netting. On some of the objects, the viewer can see a hint of a Nazar talisman.

Tara Mathison, the exhibit’s assistant curator, spoke to the TimesLedger via e-mail about the new exhibit.

Why was it being put up? And why now?

“Recently Turkey has received more global attention, due to the current political climate, as well as being a haven for artists, writers and musicians,” wrote Mathison. “We wanted to do a show responding to Turkey’s cultural resurgence on the global art world.”

The exhibit took about a year from conception to fruition, she added. As for the artists, “We selected artists from an international call, based on how the work fit into the overall thematic structure of the exhibition.”

Amulets, Nazars & Evil Eyes: Artists Looking Forward will be at the Queens College Art Center, Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library, 65-30 Kissena Blvd, Flushing through June 29. The gallery is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and May 29 through June 29, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed weekends and holidays. Free and open to the public.

Posted 12:00 am, May 19, 2012
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