Curtain Call

Leylâ Gediz  


28.03 - 06.04.2024







  Dear Viewer,  



The show that you are about to see by Leylâ Gediz delves into a story that  took place within these walls more than 50 years ago. As some of you already  know, Cosmos inhabits the premises of CAC (Campolide Atlético Clube), an old  sports and recreational club created in 1930, whose original logo is still  prominently displayed at the entrance of the building. During Salazar’s  regime, Lisbon was home to numerous “Clubes Desportivos”, which played an  important role in the identitarian politics of the dictatorship, as they  were maintained to foster a sense of belonging within the neighborhood.  However, in the late sixties, these establishments served not only as venues  for practicing sports and cultural activities, but were also places where  the opposition would frequently gather to engage in discussions or creative  endeavors.  


As such, in 1970, a group of young members of CAC, convinced Joaquim Benite,  a former journalist and critic, to collaborate with them in establishing an  amateur theater group characterized by a profound communal and ideological  involvement. The ensemble, called Grupo de Teatro de Campolide, was formed  around the shared belief in the power of theater to enact social and  political change and was committed to bringing this transformative art form  to places where its visibility might have been limited but its impact was  potentially greater. Their performances consistently challenged the norms of  institutional and commercial theater of their era, skillfully avoiding  censorship, and captivating different audiences with plays that prompted  reflection on their everyday realities. If initially they were rehearsing  and performing in the gym of CAC, they soon ventured beyond their  neighborhood, garnering critical and public acclaim nationwide. Following  this, in 1977, the troupe left Campolide as they transitioned to  professional status and took over the Teatro da Trindade in Chiado. After  one year, the group relocated to Almada, where they eventually underwent a  name change, becoming the Companhia de Teatro de Almada. Following this, in  2006, the Teatro Municipal Joaquim Benite was established, marking their new  permanent residence where they continue to operate today. 


We must recognize that our understanding of the remarkable journey of this  amateur theater group only surfaced after we accompanied Leylâ Gediz to the  archive of Teatro Joaquim Benite - now some of these  

documents are displayed in two vitrines inside Cosmos. During that  afternoon, we delved into numerous boxes that inevitably evoked 

memories from our initial encounter with Leylâ Gediz several months ago. As  we first entered her studio, we were immediately struck by the fact that the  vast majority of her works depicted stacks of cardboard boxes and other  apparently banal objects. Hailing from Istanbul, then London, and now  Lisbon, the artist has often filled carton boxes over the years, with  transience and their symbols becoming a constant companion both in her life  and in her artistic endeavors. Similarly, as previously mentioned, the Grupo  do Teatro de Campolide embarked on a nomadic path, which was intersected by  Leylâ Gediz when she opened, explored, and ultimately revealed the  microcosms encapsulated within the carton boxes of the archive. 


All the works featured in Curtain Call originated from the encounter with  this material. In the first painting, titled Stunt Girl (2024), Leylâ Gediz  selected an image from the play 'Filipopulus,' which also served as the  poster for the production. In this work, we see a woman seemingly pulling  back a curtain, as if searching for something beyond the confines of the  stage, transcending the play itself, inserting the actress in a  Pirandelliian meta-theater moment. The artist then replaced the traditional  theater curtain with a gray and white grid - the Photoshop background layer  - a recurring motif in Gediz's oeuvre. This digital blank canvas embodies  both emptiness and boundless potential, a matrix generating myriad  possibilities. The centerpiece of the exhibition, Stage-Struck (2024), draws  inspiration from both temporary theater constructions and the process of  digitally arranging numerous photographs sourced from the archive. This oil  painting, originating from a digital collage of images from different plays  and periods, pays homage to those actors by reimagining them in a new  scenario, while honoring their dedication to promote an engaged theater  during times devoid of freedom.

Finally, the performance Home Staging (2024)  set for the exhibition's opening, will present poems written by the artist  over the past six months, which revolve around the concept of reenacting and  re-imagining personal spaces, a practice at the heart of the theater group. In this context, the title of the exhibition alludes to the moment when  performers return to the stage at the conclusion of a show to receive and  acknowledge the audience's applause. However, Gediz’s works transcend a mere  homage that invites viewers to revisit the inspiring story of passion and  resistance through art, right where the first seeds of this theater group  were planted. Curtain Call is also a reminder that theater, much like visual  arts, possesses a profound capacity to 'make the invisible visible,' as  Ranciére would assert, empowering us to delve into diverse realities and  transform them. It urges us, like amateur actors, to actively participate in  these realms, embracing play, exploration, and eventually transformation. 



Orsola Vannocci Bonsi and Mattia Tosti


Stunt Girl, 2024, Oil on linen, 80 x 60 x 4 cm
Stunt Girl, 2024, Oil on linen, 80 x 60 x 4 cm
study (digital collage) for Stage-Struck, 2024
study (digital collage) for Stage-Struck, 2024

Home Staging

Leylâ Gediz



— I wish I had everything in one place. Like all my photos and all my books and all my plants and all my cats – including the dead ones.








When I was very young, like 3 or 4 years old, we had a sofa for three in our summer house. This was made up of a padded frame and six loose cushions all wrapped in the same fabric. Brown and white, drawing shapeless circles, its texture soft and cuddly like animal skin. There were no arms. I remember falling over if you went too much to one side. But this only made sense, because to me, the three seater wasn’t merely a sofa. It was an island, a mountain, a lake, a cave, a tent, a swing, a tree, a bird, a nest. 


There is one other sofa from my childhood that has left a lasting impression on me.

This sofa belonged to my grandmother. 


My grandmothers both had their own places, and one of them had several houses. 


One grandma lived alone in a two bedroom flat on a hill, from where she could observe the ships passing the canal. God knows what else she did all day, every day, or if she had any friends. She had a black fabric cigarette pouch with flower embroidery. She smoked her cigarettes, one after the other at the tip of a black mouthpiece. However, she didn’t smell of cigarettes. But then I couldn’t tell at that age, except that I liked her smell. Seated by her window, watching the canal, daylight whitened her hair and filled her wrinkles.


When I was around, she would tell me stories. In a rusty, dark voice she spoke of faraway lands and timeless realms where men and women lived and played at eachother. 


One day grandma started caughing, and next, she moved with us for a while. I remember her caughing through the night and that it had been hard for me to fall asleep. Soon after, she was moved into a nearby hospital where one day, they cut off her toes on both feet. Absurd as it was, she staged a short play for me then, with her toeless feet, as if they were puppets. She moved them together, to the left and to the right. Finally declaring their names: Edi and Büdü, she introduced them happily, as in Bert and Ernie - from Sesame Street.


Right across from her, on the other side of the canal, lived my other grandma, surrounded by her 4 children and her children’s children. She cooked for them and prayed for them, she sang to them and travelled around the globe with them until one day she was blessed to die in her own bed, at home, overlooking her beloved garden, where among the roses and ivories and bushes and trees, her children were now gathered, mourning.


Her house is kept intact, even after 15 years. If it awaits her return? We cannot talk about that, it’s complicated. There are too many children with inheritence rights to this house. Occasionally, her bedrooms host guests, but her living quarters are kept clean and quiet. 


Here, there’s the dining area with an extendable round table made of natural wood and its eight padded chairs and a matching sideboard filled with tableware and cutlery. A large carpet is laid under the table and chairs. Elegant parquet flooring. A corner cupboard with tainted glass doors on the opposite corner. A single armchair in front of the fireplace. Two sofas and a second armchair two steps below the dining area. A rectangular coffee table in between them. Two high side tables are topped with elaborate lamps and a very white porcelain bowl is centered on the coffee table that has the form of an ocean wave.


Several paintings by a well-known master hang on the surrounding white walls.

Two landscapes made plein-air on the nearby islands. 


The larger one represents a viewpoint from above the island cliffs.

It’s as if you yourself climbed up the hill to enjoy the sight. It’s late afternoon, the sun is softer, casting a warm reflection on the water. One or two pine trees obstruct the view, partially yet gracefully.


The smaller painting depicts the opposite angle, it represents the cliffs as seen from the sea, you are on a motorboat or yacht. The sea is rough, but you are fascinated by the terracotta colour of the cliffs at sunset.


Two still lifes adorn the dining area.


One painting is of a bowl of oranges. Oranges are depicted both inside and scattered around a golden brass bowl.


The second still life is smaller and vertically oval. It depicts three or four hunted birds hanging by their necks from a rope on a grey wall.


I know this house well as nothing has changed in it for years.

And yet there was a second house, reserved for the gloomy days of autumn and winter. Its centrepiece: a crystal chandelier. Smart really, the chandelier kept everyone in a perpetual light and positive mood. So much that I remember little else from this house, except one other thing: I remember vividly the sofa that once stood in front of the television.


Now this, too, was a three-seater, but not only that, it came with two armchairs in matching fabric on either side, thus forming a trio. Heavy and sturdy, their ornate legs and arms long out of fashion, what made the set striking was its textile design. 

A majestic carmin red, bursting through the white background, branching out. I can't say it was in bloom, because there were no flower forms, but the idea was there, with all the red marching and threading across the corduroy, the whole sofa was ready to open up like a flower. But the thing is, by default, a pattern is a pattern only when it is repeated and distributed symmetrically. So all this wild life, all this persistent rebellion, was in effect kept in check, repressed, by the simple means of symmetry, ridiculed, to the point of complete disarmament, leaving the sofa at the tip of a promise, an awakening, but having to settle for a formula, a composture and obedience.


I learned a great number of things from this surface design as a child: abstraction, symmetry, repetition forming a pattern, colour control and a relation between the sum and its parts. It was a mystery to me how the sofa worked. It was neither too much or over the top, nor was it flat and boring. It was simply, a success. 






Leylâ Gediz reads from her selection of texts titled "Home Staging" 2023-2024
Leylâ Gediz reads from her selection of texts titled "Home Staging" 2023-2024