Sights and Sounds: Turkey

December 26, 2014 - January 29, 2015

Sights and Sounds: Turkey features new work by Nevin Aladağ, Fatma Bucak, Zeyno Pekünlü, and Aykan Safoğlu, selected by Emre Baykal.

Installation view of Sights and Sounds: Global Film and Video in the Goodkind Media Center. Photo by David Heald.

This selection of works from Turkey teases out the way in which moving images incorporate other artistic modes, such as performance and photography, as well as adopting various documentary and narrative styles. The four artists shown here embrace a wide range of media and formats, using their personal artistic tools and strategies in filmic terms.

Aladağ borrows from video playback and theatrical mime techniques for the recorded performance Hochparterre. In this video, a single actor becomes the face of a whole community. Through this work, the artist assigns a collective and anonymous body to its residents. In Blessed Are You Who Come, Bucak also tests the conventions of performance, transforming her male audience into performers themselves.

Pekünlü uses cataloguing, statistical research, repetition, and decontextualizaton to open up a space for critical thinking, reorganizing texts, images, found footage and visual symbols through mechanical means.

Found materials—photographs, postcards, newspaper clippings, and other everyday objects—also star in Safoğlu’s Off-White Tulips, and indeed are its sole actors. They are assembled cinematically to create alternate readings of historic artefacts, queer politics, and cultural confrontations. Defying strict categorization, the work lingers between video, photography, literature, and performance.

Emre Baykal

Emre Baykal (b. Istanbul, 1965) is the Exhibitions Director and Curator at ARTER, Istanbul. He was previously Director of Exhibitions at santralistanbul (2005–8) and director of the Istanbul Biennial (2000–5). In 2013 Baykal was Curator of the Turkish Pavilion for the 55th Venice Biennale.


Nevin Aladağ, Hochparterre (Mezzanine), 2009, video, sound, 9 min. Artwork © Nevin Aladağ, provided by the artist, Rampa, Istanbul, and Wentrip, Berlin. For Hochparterre, Nevin Aladag˘ creates an audio portrait of Naunynstrasse, a street in the Kreuzberg neighborhood of Berlin. The soundtrack is based on the artist’s interviews with the quarter’s residents, who speak freely of their lives and discontents. A single actor lipsyncs their stories and impersonates each character through mime, creating a temporary common stage for the diverse identities that construct a community.

Zeyno Pekünlü, Man to Man, 2012, video, sound, 5 min., 32 sec. Artwork © Zeyno Pekünlü. Man to Man, the first work in Zeyno Pekünlü’s Manhood, is a collection of short scenes extracted from popular Turkish movies from the 1950s through the 1980s. In this montage, men enthusiastically embrace, kiss, and cry on each other’s shoulders; they get drunk and have fun together; a minute later they fight, punch, and hurt one another; then they again find consolation and comfort in each other’s company. Seen in rapid succession, these manly actions appear childish and absurd. It is often said that a woman is responsible for whatever happens to a man, good or bad. So what happens when the women
are not around? Man to Man investigates male company in the absence of female presence.

Fatma Bucak, Blessed Are You Who Come: Conversation on the Turkish–Armenian Border, 2012, HD video, sound, 8 min., 42 sec. Artwork © Fatma Bucak. Fatma Bucak’s works embrace performance, video, and photography incorporating observations from reality and constructed fictional, mythological aspects. Blessed Are You Who Come was filmed at an uninhabited site on the Turkish-Armenian border. A woman in black performs a series of silent rituals, offering bread to a group of twelve older men. The work explores and questions the relationships among people of different generations, genders, ethnicities, and religious identities.

Aykan Safoğlu, Off-White Tulips (excerpt), 2013, HD video, sound, 23 min., 46 sec. Artwork © Aykan Safoğlu. The video essay Off-White Tulips is a tribute to the novelist and essayist James Baldwin, constructed through archival documents and everyday objects. Baldwin’s prolonged stays in Istanbul in the 1960s and 1970s, and his personal history as a black American gay writer, form a fabric upon which the artist’s own biography is poetically stitched. Though the two men never crossed paths, their playfully interconnected stories allow Safoğlu to explore issues surrounding queer politics and identity, racism, self-exile, and transnational discourse.

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