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Vielmetter Los Angeles
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Hayv Kahraman at Vielmetter


Hayv Kahraman’s solo show at Vielmetter investigates the body alongside issues of otherness, migration, war, and medicine. Potently, Kahraman connects the medical notions of virus and antibody to her own immigrant experience. “I was a virus before the virus,” she writes in the press release. In the large paintings, female bodies overlap and acrobatically entwine with each other. In several, the women hold animals that have historically been used as methods of communication (snails, rabbits, and pigeons). Subtly, the overlapping and stacked women, together form Y shapes, mimicking the form that antibodies take in the human body. In another work, “Swallowing Antibodies,” a figure with several arms voraciously eats the large blood-red, Y-shaped proteins.

Kahraman explains that “The antibodies act as a bridge between the foreign and the self. They are translators that tirelessly negotiate how, when, and if our body will respond. I find this role of mediation interesting, as it reminds me of dwelling in the border; of being in between one, two, or multiple spaces.” As we begin to slowly crawl out of the medical horror that has been the Coronavirus, Kahraman draws parallels between the damaging language that we use to describe both infections and otherness and celebrates a fluid identity that, like the antibody, might deny binaries and instead exist as a bridge between things.

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Photo: Hayv Kahraman, “Snails,” 2021 (detail). Oil on linen, 80″ x 60.” Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles. Photo credit: Jeff Mclane.