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January 14, 2004

By Gigi Marino

The work of Tulu Bayar, a photographer and assistant professor of art and art history at Bucknell, exceeds the limits of two-dimensional prints. Bayar is strongly aware of the power of narrative and uses story as a chief component in her multimedia installations.

In a show called "Admissions," Bayar asked four women to tell her a secret. She taped their stories. Their voices played continuously in the background during the installation, which was surrounded by curtains. Small Plexiglas balls hung inside the curtained area. And inside these were slides of the women illuminated by a single light.

Bayar's work is poetic, using juxtaposition, symbolism, and metaphor, resulting in what she calls "visual narratives."

Bayar is fascinated by what Proust calls "involuntary memory," the outpouring of sensory data that flood one's consciousness from the smallest association — the smell of oranges, the touch of velvet, an image of faces.

In a recent installation at the Samek Art Gallery, Bayar did an installation called "Settlement," which used water as its main theme. "The recent increase in violence and incendiary rhetoric in the Middle East — which in turn, only begets more violence — has led me to think more about the water scarcity problem among Jewish and Muslim communities," she says.

In this show, two channel videos projected an image of a woman, purposely made vague, ritualistically pouring water over her arms and legs. The intention, she says, was to "draw attention to water not only as a source and essence of life but also a tool for spiritual cleansing in both faiths."

"My work is timely," Bayar says. "I listen to the news. I derive my information from the didactic."

In her classes, Bayar teaches students how to consider taking such messages and reinterpreting them. For the first time this semester, she is teaching a course in installation art, which, she says, is highly unusual at the undergraduate level at a liberal arts school.

In the past, class projects have led to collaborations between her and her students. "Last year, three of us worked day and night putting together a multimedia piece. We didn't stay within the limits of my knowledge. And now, we have a piece that I am taking to a conference."

Gigi Marino is the editor of Bucknell World.


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