in Frieze London | 19 OCT 23

Frieze Sculpture Conversations: Monumentalism

Frieze Sculpture curator Fatoş Üstek talks to artists Leilah Babirye, Gülsün Karamustafa and Zak Ové about working on the grand scale

in Frieze London | 19 OCT 23
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For Frieze Sculpture 2023, curator Fatoş Üstek spoke over Zoom to participating artists in a series of wide-ranging themed discussions. In this conversation, artists Leilah BabiryeGülsün Karamustafa and Zak Ové talk about scale, importance, ideas of ‘the monument’ and sculpture in the great outdoors.

Watch the other discussions in this series on performance and nature.

In this discussion

Leilah Babirye: Where I come from we don’t have that many monuments. We’ve seen over 157 monuments demolished in the past two years since George Floyd died. So that kind of brought up all the monuments that people are calling bad and weird and good and renaming things. So I wouldn’t like my work to be called a monument. 

Gülsün Karamustafa: For 100 years, we have a produced replicas of Atatürk’s monuments and put them everywhere in Turkey: in front of schools, in public squares, in public buildings – everywhere. Many of them feel that they are ephemeral, because they’re very vulnerable, they can be broken. Monuments have been a nightmare for me since my childhood: I grew up under the shade of these big sculptures. 

Zak Ové: I was looking at iconic buildings in the US and in London, and was interested in how most of these monuments, representing the Western world in many ways, were built by the hands of slaves and indentured labourers, from the Caribbean, from Asia and from South America. So in a way, what I was doing in sections of the totem is referencing those buildings that were built by Black hands, and trying to revise a sense of the invisible history. 

Read more

Performance: Fatoş Üstek talks to artists Jyll Bradley, Temitayo Ogunbiyi and Holly Stevenson

Nature: Fatoş Üstek talks to artists Yuichi Hirako, Suhasini Kejriwal and Hans Rosenström

Discover more

Thumbnail pic: Zak Ové, The Mothership Connection, 2021. Gallery 1957. Frieze Sculpture 2023. Photo by Linda Nylind. Courtesy of Linda Nylind/Frieze