July 2022
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The transformation currently taking place in Liverpool – the process officially known as ‘regeneration’ – provides a starting point for many of the artists in International 06. For Esra Ersen, this deliberate attempt to create a new identity for Liverpool connects suggestively to her ongoing interest in questions of personal and social identity and the complicated ways in which ‘identities’ are formed and reformed. In Perfect, Ersen transfers the process of ‘regeneration’ from a city to person, performing a makeover on a longstanding resident of Liverpool. Ersen challenges us to question the whole idea of ‘regeneration’: when change is imposed from outside rather than being organic, what really changes, and what stays the same? Ersen’s work addresses social identities and behaviour, examining how they are formed and reformed within the structures of society. Confronting these issues politically, Ersen formalises her investigations by engaging intimately with the specific location of her activity. Ersen has been struck by the radical transformation currently taking place in Liverpool and the impact upon its inhabitants. Regeneration promises a new identity for the city in the run-up to being European Capital of Culture. Ersen’s work is a critical examination of the universal process of ‘regeneration’, where typically the change is not organic but grows out of decisions made by governing bodies rather than residents. Acting as a kind of urban planner, transferring her methods from city to person, Ersen has performed a makeover on a long-standing resident of Liverpool. The person chosen is close to her community and part of its history. By changing her, Ersen provokes questions about the changing city as a whole. The result is a document of the process of ransformation. The work reveals the contradictions inherent within visual regeneration, becoming a metaphor for its processes. Just as with a makeover, it is only the fagade that is transformed. The internal structures remain the same. Kyla McDonald


16 September – 26 November 2006