"Elif Saydam's works are crawling with clues: a rotating cast of characters, logos, and symbols", writes Adam Fearon in his text Clueless, or There and Back Again. "Their work is not figurative in any normal sense: there is no representation of reality, no use of illusionistic space, no straightforward figuration. Instead, a kind of lexicon of symbols builds up: padlocks, CLOSED signs, hearts, a frog or two, grapes, lemons, fresh fruit, rotten fruit, ladders, landlords, chromosomes, labels from honey jars, brain scans, chains, daisies, daisy chains, mosquitos, bees, bugs, smiley faces, a stomach, mood rings, bow-tie pasta, wilted roses, charged political slogans, ice tea, Antifa, 555-phone numbers, butterflies, a lucky star, bloodshot eyes, wheat, the hand of Fatima, four-leaf clovers, the iconic Blue Marble . . . and mazes".
Published with Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof, Hamburg, this exquisitely illustrated book also includes essays in English, German and Turkish by Maxi Wallenhorst, Asa Seresin, Vera Palmeand, and a poetic contribution by the artist.
Published following the eponymous exhibition at Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof, Hamburg, in 2021.
In an expanded painting practice, Elif Saydam (born 1985 in Calgary, Canada, lives in Berlin) addresses the relationship between social categories and the construction of taste. Drawing on decoration as well as the judgements and mechanisms they entail—both implicit and as exclusions—this work raises questions around valued labor, identification impulses and social mobility. Saydam's profound and humorous practice brings forth the connections between aesthetic and social ambivalences and their transgressive potential.