Suspicious Explanations: MICHAEL BISHOP

9 May - 7 June 2014

Michael Bishop’s first solo show in İstanbul “Suspicious Explanations” opens at Galeri Nev İstanbul on May 9th. Bishop’s powder coated metal works and photographs printed on felt transform the gallery space to a stage on which subtle associations between language and objects are played upon.


As Bishop’s surfaces resist reflection and gravitation, the objects create a peculiar sense of presence.  The blurry sense of weight in Bishop’s objects conveys an obscured idea of materiality.  Absorption of light on the surfaces grants the objects an introverted feeling, turning them into self-contained forms.  The distribution of forms within the gallery space, on multiple axes, suggests a dispersed yet coherent linguistic structure.  Symbolic associations attached to these forms pave the way for multiple hovering discourses upon a stage in which the solid and the hollow seem to be cut into two clear halves. The presence of the audience can only have an intermediary function between these two.


The stark contrast between inscribed and vocalized language in Bishop’s works calls for contemplation of the relation between expression and affect.  Quotes from unnamed literary sources and a consistent use of the first-person narrative put subjectivity into question.  The tensional relation between the authority and the subject determines the context of this interrogation.  Baby boy heads with different forms add a satirical dimension to Bishop’s questioning as they subvert the sculptural genre of bust.  The reference to “black and brown” in one of the inscribed texts underlines the bleak political atmosphere the artist attempts to empty out and fill with his call for contemplation within the gallery space; a space one can habituate but not belong to.


The act of counting infiltrates Bishop’s works through different paths, creates a sense of rhythm in line with his call for a contemplative gaze.  The time inscribed on the image (İstanbul Azan hours in “Timing”) and the image of time run out (a pile of ash in “Counting Trees”) brings multiple temporalities forward.  Rather than sticking with these different temporalities Bishop chooses to create gaps between them.  The call for the repetitive act of counting is also vocally and physically present in Bishop’s installations.  The insistent rhythm of the exhibition goes hand in hand with a cold sensation of serenity and abandonment.


Michael Bishop is based in California; both continuing his studio practice and academic work as Professor of Art at California State University, Chico.  He has been in Turkey during his stays as a visiting lecturer since 1985-86 and currently teaches Spring semesters at Sabanci University.  He has received numerous academic and studio awards including: two Fullbright Scholarships to Turkey; Arts & Industry Residencies, Kurtz GmbH, Wertheim, Germany; National Endowment for the Art, Kohler; California Arts Council Artist Fellowship Award For The Visual Arts.  His works are included in many collections including Karstadt GmbH, Essen, Germany, Triton Museum of Art, Santa Clara, California, and John Michael Kohler Art Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin.