Art Talk: Didem Erbaş & Kaya Genç

Bilsart presents Didem Erbaş’s video work titled ‘Faint Flames’ between February 28 and March 9, 2024.

In 1977, in his text “L’articolo delle lucciole”, Pier Paolini Pasolini compared the power vacuum in his country to the disappearance of fireflies due to artificial lights and environmental factors. The vacuum that Pasolini refers to was created when the left was intimidated by the government and erased/extinct.

Inspired by Pasoli’s article and Georges Didi- Huberman’s book “Survivance des lucioles”, this exhibition is part of a process in which I work on migration, politics, power relations, drones and war strategies. In the exhibition, fireflies appear as abstract forms to represent the power vacuum in my own country and all the forms in the exhibition, together with the elements and images in the video question the relationships between the living and the non-living, the artificial and the natural.

“To resist in the days of fascism was to illuminate the night with luminous signals, like fireflies. Have the fireflies disappeared completely or are they alive after all?”


Cheerful Strangers, 2023

latex, paper mache, ceramic paste, plastic, wax, silicone, paraffin, powder paint, polyurethane foam, wire, epoxy, metal, copper wire.

The installation on the floor, the paintings on the wall, and the video are three separate works that are all interconnected.

Although the starting point of the forms that compose the installation were a few engravings and objects I bought in the first weeks of my stay in Paris, in the process these forms became reminiscent of the creatures (maggots) in the video. Along with the engravings I found, pipes, metal parts, and similar architectural protrusions I saw in Paris inspired the embodiment of these objects. The objects and forms, which I create using different materials, are also intended to evoke the indistinct figures of an animal or a human being found in archaeological excavations such as bones, etc.


The paintings on the wall are made with colors I obtained from rose and poppy flowers. Although the material I used is extremely delicate, like flowers, the paintings depict scenes from video footage of modern wars using unmanned aerial vehicles like drones. As in modern war videos, the images in the paintings are offered from a bird’s eye view, from a perspective that only birds, drones or instruments of power can witness.


Found footage, found sound and short videos taken in Silivri, İstanbul.

The tapeworms and maggots seen in the left frame of the video are planarians that spontaneously come into existence in nature (in water).


Their cell renewal is so fast that no matter how many pieces you cut them into, each one forms a new planaria. In other words, they can live forever. For this reason, they are used in human research in areas such as cell regeneration, the fight against cancer, the regeneration of lost limbs, tissues and organs, and eternal life.

The fireflies – also seen on the left frame – are inspired by Pasolini’s article and became the material for the video.


Fireflies are small insects that have an extraordinary ability called bioluminescence. Bioluminescence results from chemical reactions in the fireflies’ bodies and causes impressive light shows, mostly at night.

Firefly larvae live in the soil and prey on snails, slugs, grubs, cutworms, and other soil dwellers. Habitat loss, pesticide use, and artificial light are the three most serious threats facing fireflies, with some species more at risk than others.

War Images

The images seen on the right frame of the video are war scenes from around the world that have been normalized by being shown repeatedly on various TV channels.  The text in the video is a short essay on how the images shown on TV by the mainstream media are normalized in the human mind.

Sound Footage

One of the sounds accompanying the video is “Didgeridoo”, an ancient Aboriginal instrument. The other accompanying sound is a metronome I found at a Paris flea market, a found sound blended with the sounds of drones and unmanned aerial vehicles.


Didem Erbaş is an artist born in Istanbul, currently living and working in Istanbul. She holds a BA in Painting from Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University and an MA in Visual Arts and Visual Communication Design at Sabanci University. In her practice, she works with installation, site-specific installation/intervention, paintings, and video with a focus on geography, human intervention to nature, traces on spaces, and transformation. In her works, she is interested in socio-politic issues in her living geography – Turkey.  She participated in many group shows in Turkey, USA and also London, Berlin, and Bulgaria. She was one of the first participants in the “Useful Art” studio under the direction of Tania Bruguera in 2013. She had a three-month residency at Cite Internationale des Arts in France with the support of IKSV. From January to February 2024, she will continue her research at Delfina Foundation in London with the support of SAHA. After having worked as an assistant for the Major Works of Modern Art course at the Sabancı University for two years, she now continues her Ph.D. study at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University.