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Location and Mobility in Kutlug Ataman's Site-specific Video Installation Kuba

Kutlug Ataman's award winning feature film Lola + Bilidikid (Lola and Billy the Kid, 1999) introduces most of its characters in a sequence in which we see a drag cabaret show of a performance group called Die Gastarbeiterinnen (the female guestworkers) in a dark and smoky bar.1 On stage, the performers Scheherazade, Calypso, and Lola ironically perform the stereotypical role of the victimized female guestworker with a headscarf (Gokturk 2000). In so doing, they subvert the stereotype of the submissive Turkish woman in Germany by reenacting that identity in the form of a stage performance: as hyperfeminine belly dancers, they sing, dance, and interact with the audience very comfortably. The handheld camera places us first on stage with the dancers and then with the audience watching them, which evokes a sense of intimate but also claustrophobic space shared with the characters. As the first film to explore queer Turkish German subjects openly in cinema, Lola and Billy the Kid foregrounds the sexual and ethnic diversity of migrants in Germany as well as the multiplicity of the experience of migrancy (for a more detailed discussion, see Mennel 2004 and Clark 2006). Thus the film transgresses essentialist identity politics that assign fixed roles to migrants and natives.

Even though Ataman did not personally experience migration to Germany, his film has been discussed within the frame of a new wave of Turkish German filmmaking that has flourished since the mid-1990s.2 The significant role assigned to Lola and Billy the Kid in this context encourages us to formulate new ways to approach migrant and diasporic cinema, moving beyond ethno-racial or territorial definitions that fail to account for multidimensional mobilities and moorings of our global age (see Hannam et al. 2006). Lola and Billy the Kid aptly illustrates Ataman's artistic and political concerns that pervade his cinematic and video works: the issue of mobility and marginality, performative and constructed identities, and idiosyncratic senses of places. Ataman's multichannel, sculptural installations expand these issues to include experimentation with different forms of presentation and exhibition as well as incorporation of the viewer and the site as integral parts of the artwork. In this essay, I focus on Ataman's forty-channel video installation Kuba (2004) in relation to issues of migration, displacement, and urban marginality as well as embodied spectatorship and site specificity. In Kuba, as in Lola and Billy the Kid, Ataman underscores both particular individuals and the collective. He subverts essentialist notions of identity politics through embodied spectatorship and the extended duration of the installation, challenging conventional forms of passive observation. Furthermore, he offers countermodels to the stereotypical representation of Others by incorporating traditional forms of political cinema such as documentary and social-realist filmmaking.

As Lola and Billy the Kid's reception in the festival circuit testifies, Ataman has started a successful career as a filmmaker, but following his first video installation semiha b. unplugged (1997), which was a hit at the Istanbul Biennial of the same year, he has begun to produce works in the domain of contemporary art and since then become one of the best-known Turkish artists in the international art world.3 His works have been presented at prestigious art exhibitions and galleries in the United States and Europe.4 The single-screen projection semiha b. unplugged is an eight-hour video that features an interview with Semiha Berksoy, an octogenarian Turkish opera singer whose life story was enmeshed with modern Turkish history, which the video reconstructs from her own personal perspective. Following his first video work, extended duration and open-ended monologues with no clear beginning or ending have become Ataman's signature in his installations. For example, semiha b. unplugged's 465 minutes of almost uninterrupted monologue deliberately subverts the standards of conventional narrative cinema despite its allusions to documentary. Like most of Ataman's video works, semiha b. unplugged offers multivalent expressions of experience and narrative of a self that expand the notion of documentary into fiction through storytelling. And Berksoy's monumental tale, staged in the intimacy of the diva's Istanbul bedroom, allows viewers to create their own versions of the piece based on fragments they watch in the exhibition site for, in Ataman's words, "it is impossible to watch" the piece in its totality.5

With his four-screen installation, Women Who Wear Wigs (1999) that premiered at the Venice Biennale, Ataman has started using multiple screens in different scales and positions, simultaneously featuring several stories in sculptural forms (Baykal 2008: 49). In Women Who Wear Wigs, Ataman uses the wig as a link holding together the stories of four different women: a revolutionary who spent several years in hiding, a journalist who lost her hair following chemotherapy, an activist in the Turkish transvestite and transsexual community, and an unnamed university student who wore a wig to cover her headscarf to be able to circumvent its ban at institutions of higher education. In Women Who Wear Wigs, Ataman juxtaposes four screens next to each other to allow viewers to be able to experience the different stories simultaneously. Indeed, in his later work, Ataman has experimented with the spatialization of narratives using the particular spatial characteristics of a chosen site, the physical and psychological involvement of the viewer, as well as the practice of montage in space. While Ataman's earlier works center on eccentric individuals such as an aging opera diva or an English woman who devoted her life to her passion for the flower amaryllis, his more recent works Kttba (2004) and Paradise (2006) are multicharacter installations that evoke notions of collective identity and belonging.

Ataman's award winning video installation Kttba, commissioned by the London-based arts organization Artangel, is a forty-channel video installation based on interviews in a gecekondu (shantytown) neighborhood of Istanbul populated primarily by migrants from southeastern Turkey.6 The installation addresses issues of forced migration and the spatial construction of displacement and confinement in Istanbul's urban space. For his video installation, Ataman spent two years filming interviews with residents of the shantytown of the same name in Istanbul. Ataman convinced Kuba residents to take part in his work and gained access to their private spaces through the mediation of an ex-Kuba resident who spoke of Ataman as a trustworthy person (Horrigan 2004: 3). Ataman promised his subjects not to show the piece in Turkey because many of the stories refer to conflicts in the neighborhood, state violence, criminal activities, and sexual and domestic violence that might cause trouble for the interviewees if the content became public knowledge. Thus the subjects presented in Kttba were not the intended audience of the piece.

In the installation, Ataman incorporates video-based images into a sculptural mise en scene and creates a virtual neighborhood that consists of forty talking heads, articulating their own descriptions of alternative community. Ataman presents these interviews on forty secondhand TV monitors that are placed on used tables with forty mismatched armchairs. The installation allows viewers to move among the monitors, piecing together the videos according to their own choices in the exhibition site. Elizabeth Cowie points out that the multiscreen format renders the piece "inherently unstable, unavailable as identically repeatable," as each viewer's experience is personal and unique (2009: 127). Indeed, Kttba calls for an engagement with the extended duration of the work, proposing an active and participatory form of spectatorship that demands constitutive relations from viewers. In so doing, it makes the viewer and the experience of viewing central to the work.

Installation view of Kutlug Ataman's Ktiba, The Sorting Office, London, March-June 2005, commissioned and produced by Artangel, photo courtesy Artangel

Figure 6.1 Installation view of Kutlug Ataman's Ktiba, The Sorting Office, London, March-June 2005, commissioned and produced by Artangel, photo courtesy Artangel

Ktiba has been presented in various sites, each time producing a new mode of experiencing the work: in museums, in a derelict postal sorting office in London, in a courtroom in Southampton, in a passenger ferry terminal in Sydney, and on a container barge traveling along the Danube River. The spatial articulation and meaning of Ktiba has changed in relation to the architectural, historical, and cultural specificity of each location that housed the virtual neighborhood, and the work has taken on the memories of the sites of its display. For instance, Stuttgart's Central Station where Ktiba was exhibited in old railway cars was a place where many of Germany's "migrant laborers from Turkey first arrived on their long journey" (Halle 2009: 46). In this particular site-specific constellation, Istanbul's gecekondu neighborhood Kuba expanded to encompass the history of guestworkers who migrated to Germany in the 1960s and 1970s—guestworkers whose descendants make up a large number of European citizens today. In the Central Station, the sign Ktiba, showing the way to the old railway cars placed on Track 1A, brought the viewer to an unfamiliar yet very intimate zone of Kurdish stories mainly told in broken Turkish with English subtitles. The installation does not mark its subjects ethnically but most of the stories provide various references to the subjects' Kurdish identity and their experience of migrancy. In the railway cars, viewers could sit on a seat to watch a story unfolding on a TV monitor also placed on a passenger seat; they could enter into a cloistered compartment in which the movement of other passing trains on nearby tracks was highly felt. Indeed, the installation invited not only art audiences who enter the station to see the work but also travelers and other people who use the space for various purposes. In the Stuttgart exhibition, in particular, the installation underscored the ways in which migrant experiences are conditioned by travel networks, infrastructures, and transport technologies, and produced a palimpsestic spatiotemporality marked by various migratory routes.

In London, Kttba was presented on the enormous upper floor of a derelict postal sorting office with additional electric heaters due to the cold weather. The worn-out, wooden floor and broken windows of the postal office provided a stage for the tales of Kuba residents, further emphasizing their vulnerable condition in urban space. To see the exhibition, the viewer went through seemingly unsafe staircases, following arrows that led to the exhibition site; "the circuitous journey echoe[d] the journey to the obscure, out-of-the-way, Istanbul slum that is Kuba" (Lebow 2007-8: 61). As Randall Halle points out, each installation of Kttba "took on a different quality, mirroring differently various aspects of ghettoization/community building" (2009: 47). Thus Kttba as a site- oriented artwork navigating various spaces not only indicates a shift from static notions of time and space toward a coexistence of multiple spaces and histories, but also relates to a notion of site specificity that indicates "a shift in visual art toward the conceptual and performative contexts in which the idea of the work is defined" (Kaye 2000: 183, emphasis in the original). Constructing a dialogic relationship between the artwork and its site, Kttba blurs the boundaries between material and cinematic spaces and calls into question what Nick Kaye defines as "the art object's material integrity and the very possibility of establishing a work's proper location" (2000: 183). While remaining integrally linked to its place of origin, the shantytown, Kttba has undergone a process of reconstruction in each installation, persistently rearticulating the relationship between moving images and the site of their display.

Catherine Fowler's notion of "gallery films" helps to articulate the altered relationship of "in-frame" and "out-of-frame" in video installations. Fowler explores "the continuum between the in-frame (the content of the image and issues of film style) and the out-of-frame (the space within which that image is placed to be viewed)" in order to understand "how context might affect both the content of the images and the viewing experience" (2004: 326). As Fowler suggests, the migration of moving images from theaters to galleries has produced new forms of spectatorship that alter the viewing experience and meaning of images by allowing the viewer to "perambulate, choose when to enter or exit, where to stand, sit or walk, and even (with multiscreen work) where to look" (2004: 329). To take these arguments a step further, I suggest that an engagement with the specificity (historical, cultural, geographical, or architectural) of the site of display and how it informs the viewer's experience of images is crucial in understanding embodied spectatorship in a particular context rather than framing it through an abstract notion of spectating or site. The installation Kuba is able to evoke specificity of time and space through its geographical, social, and personal context as well as through "[its] architectural space, organizing the spectator's access to mobility and stillness" (Cowie 2009: 124). The sites temporarily occupied by Kuba become its constitutive parts with their architectural and sociohistorical specificity, conjuring up unique forms of engagement with the work. Hence, Kuba attests to Jonathan Crary's statement that "contemporary installation art involves the creation of unanticipated spaces and environments in which our visual and intellectual habits are challenged and disrupted" (2003: 7).

The stories told by the residents of Kuba present their neighborhood as an exclusive island in the city—a politically charged environment of displacement, poverty, and alternative community formation. In that sense, the installation belongs to a growing body of site-specific art practices that can help to "provide support for greater visibility of marginalized groups, and initiate the re(dis)covery of 'minor' places so far ignored by the dominant culture" (Kwon 1997: 105). In the installation, the medium closeup images of various people telling their stories in their living rooms produce the sense of place and of location. The staged domestic environment of the installation—the mismatched, secondhand TV monitors and chairs—foreground the authenticity of Ataman's subjects because these secondhand objects seem to possess an indexical relation to the sites and subjects presented in the work. In fact, one might find them in the houses of individuals portrayed in Kuba. As documentary filmmaker Alisa Lebow observes, "Ataman recreates the atmosphere of a neighborhood, not by faithfully reconstructing its streets and structures, but by inviting us into the residents' living rooms for a sohbet, an informal chat" (2007-8: 60). Art historian and critic Miwon Kwon argues that site specificity and ethnographic methods in this context can be mobilized to provide "distinction of place and uniqueness of locational identity, highly seductive qualities in the promotion of towns and cities within the competitive restructuring of the global economic hierarchy" (1997: 106). Indeed, in contemporary art, there has been a strongly pronounced interest in ethnographic methods that involve marginal or peripheral places and subjects, an interest that often turns the Other or the hybrid into assets of cultural economy.

In his 1996 essay "The Artist as Ethnographer," art historian Hal Foster has identified an "ethnographic turn" in contemporary art—a system of artistic production based on investigations of the cultural Other. Focusing mainly on site-specific art practices, he outlined a variety of problems that arise when artists try to follow the ethnographic methods without any ethnographic training or clear ethical framework. According to Foster, such quasi-ethnographic practices might reify cultural and ethnic

Installation view of Kutlug Ataman's Kttba, The Sorting Office, London, March-June 2005, commissioned and produced by Artangel, photo courtesy Artangel

Figure 6.2 Installation view of Kutlug Ataman's Kttba, The Sorting Office, London, March-June 2005, commissioned and produced by Artangel, photo courtesy Artangel

differences, colonizing these marginal spaces and turning them into global commodities.

Kttba might be considered a quasi-ethnographic artwork, for Ataman has used interviews with sociopolitically and economically disenfranchised subjects as the basis of his installation. Additionally Lebow sees the extended duration of Ataman's installation as an obstacle in conveying the politically charged issues raised by the interviews. She argues that "the dehistoricized context of Western exhibition sites" might reduce Kttba's stories into "mini-soap opera[s] of the poor and dispossessed" (2007-8: 64). In Kttba, however, the ethnographic gaze, initially foregrounded by the interview format, and the sculptural component's impression of authenticity are undermined by the extended duration of the interviews. It would be impossible to view Kttba in its totality because the forty screens show more than thirty hours of interviews. Unlike many ethnographic documentaries or commercial films that tend to present "authentic" or "exotic" Others to First World audiences, Kttba constantly reminds us that visual access is not a given. The work demands an embodied durational engagement from viewers who have to take their time to grasp the work, to explore the multidimensional nature of the persons portrayed as well as the work's relationship to its particular site. In so doing, Kttba refuses its viewers the satisfaction offered by mainstream news images of disenfranchised people from a Third World city. Furthermore, with its open-ended stories running in loops, Kuba offers a circular structure in which the linear time loses its meaning. Hence, the structural framing of this video installation prevents viewers from treating the residents of Kuba as fully accessible or consumable subjects. In that frame, Ataman's Kuba subverts the essentialist and homogenizing aspects of identity politics.

Irit Rogoff insists that Kuba "is not a body of information about a place, or a demographic, it is not social or cultural history ... If we were to leave Kuba with some notion that we knew something about Kurdish migrants into Istanbul or about ghettoized ethnic communities—we would have failed it" (2006: 35). Kuba, as most of Ataman's work, alludes to documentary and social-realist filmmaking (which has been prevalent in migrant and diasporic cinema) by depicting authentic characters in their original locations and filming unscripted and improvised narration of the characters with minimum direction of the filmmaker whose presence is felt through the sudden and small movements of the handheld camera (see also Baykal 2008: 9). Hence, Kuba incorporates some elements of what might be seen as conventional documentary methods such as location shooting and interviews. Sometimes we hear Ataman's voice asking very brief questions from behind the camera but we also see characters addressing him directly by asking a question or even threatening him.

In an interview, Bozo, a middle-aged Kuba resident, tells Ataman: "Tomorrow I'll say, 'Kutlug, let's send Hakan [Bozo's son] to school.' You won't send him to school? I will take out a gun and shoot you. You think I wouldn't? I would. Someone is going to make it out of Kuba. No one has, but he will." And in the video, we do not hear Ataman's reaction to Bozo's threat. Bill Horrigan defines Ataman's method as an "ethic of self-effacement" (2003: 25) and points out elsewhere: "Ataman is an artist whose medium is people's lives that, for him and for us, take form in the words they produce. As that artist, he accords them respect by submitting to the time it takes to listen to them speak. The contract he extends to his viewers requests that they do no less" (2004: 1). Ataman's handheld camera, like Ataman himself, does not react to its surroundings— it stays focused on the character and never zooms out or provides an establishing shot that would help the viewer locate the person within a larger picture. There is no voice-over narration that addresses the viewer directly or renders the images mere illustrations of what the authoritative commentary describes. Thus Ataman's videos defy notions of objectivity and truth foregrounded by conventional documentary filmmaking that claims to be presenting first-hand experience and reality.

Ataman's approach suggests that the artist is not interested in replicating or reproducing the experience of the everyday as lived in a socioeconomically and culturally marginal site of Istanbul. Rather, he is intrigued by the representation and remaking of place in the act of storytelling and narration. The aesthetic and political efficacy of Kuba lies in the ways in which it generates countermodels to the dehumanizing representations of the so-called Others and offers a strong political comment on the nature of documentation and information. It utilizes storytelling and narrative to refer to very concrete personal and social matters and takes the viewer to an unfamiliar zone of ignored or silenced communal memory of poverty and violence. Hence, the composition of the installation emphasizes the contact with disenfranchised subjects that are neither victimized nor idealized by the artist. Furthermore, by foregrounding storytelling, Kttba defamiliarizes the banal activity of TV viewing—one of the most dominant cultural experiences, which effects viewing conditions and expectations for today's viewers. And the installation demands an engagement with the slowness and introspection of the activity of storytelling and listening.

Most stories of Kuba's residents concern issues of immigration and mobility as well as social and economic marginalization in Istanbul's urban space. They invoke cultural conflicts concerning the rights of ethnic and religious minorities as well as the rifts between the urban population and the new migrants to the big city. Kttba portrays Istanbul as a "heavily trafficked intersection ... instead of a circumscribed territory," and evokes the city as a place "crisscrossed by the movement and multiple migrations of people, sometimes voluntary, but often economically propelled and politically coerced" (Conquergood 2002: 145). The representation of Istanbul as a city of migration is not unfamiliar to viewers of Turkish cinema, which has addressed internal (rural to urban) mass migrations, urban decay, and class conflicts since the 1950s.7 As Ipek Tureli aptly explains: "Migration was formative in the rapid growth of Istanbul in the second half of the twentieth century so much so that contemporary Istanbul can be considered a 'city of migrants' with most of its adult population born elsewhere in Turkey. Although no longer the driving force of the city's population growth, migration remains central to cultural imagination" (2010: 144).

The second half of the century witnessed economically driven, massive rural-to-urban migration in Turkey, followed by concentration of migrants on the outskirts of major cities who built their own houses and villages known as gecekondu areas or squatter settlements. These rural-to-urban migrants expanded the city geographically and created a more polarized class structure. Internal migration movements have changed in the 1990s. Since the mid-1980s, the civil war between Kurdish militants and the Turkish army in the southeastern region of Turkey caused displacement of rural people from their regular places of residence. Kurds constituted the majority of internally displaced people whose villages had been burned down or evacuated due to armed conflict (Yildiz 2005). The forced migration has had a profound effect on urban areas, developing various subcultures and changing the urban texture of Istanbul.

Significantly most residents of Kuba are Kurdish and have migrated from eastern and southeastern Turkey since the early 1960s. Kuba has become a shantytown of nearly three hundred households on the outskirts of Istanbul. We learn from the interviews presented in the installation that the city authorities destroyed parts of Kuba several times because of the illegal status of households that accommodate the poor, unemployed, criminals, and drug addicts. But each time, the community replaced the demolished houses overnight. A Kuba resident, Arife, recounts: "When they wrecked houses, we'd get together and built it again in one night. People gave cement, bricks, and other materials. By morning, we'd have it done" (gecekondu literally means "built over night"). After 1984, when the Turkish government declared a state of emergency in the southeast, thousands of Kurds fled to the cities. In the installation Kuba, Dilsah talks about the difficulty of life for Kurdish people in Istanbul and not knowing much Turkish when she married her uncle's son. Fevzi remembers his village in the southeast: "When I was in the village ... the soldiers were pursuing the PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party], the PKK passed through our village. The soldiers came into the village too. With the intention of protecting the animals, the villagers fired a few shots, fearing that there might be a wolf. Then the soldiers start shooting at them, left and right, at the tents and so forth." Makbule tells about her longing for her land in the southeast, and how she wrote a petition in Kurdish, in her native language and got arrested for "terrorism." "I want my language. I want education. I want to read," she says, articulating her rights in the idioms available to her. Muzaffer complains about not having proper education in the east. He says that the people who come to his coffeehouse speak in broken Turkish: "We have a coffeehouse. Ninety percent of the customers are unemployed Kurds. And we always speak Turkish. Poor and broken Turkish. If we spoke Kurdish we'd be more at ease, we could communicate more ... We are afraid to speak Kurdish. There are constant raids, constant complaints, constant prohibition."

The stories in Ataman's installation suggest that what unites Kuba residents is the shared experience of discrimination, poverty, and urban segregation—not their ethnicity, religious beliefs or political views. Ataman states, "Living in Kuba—above all else—defines their sense of identity, unique in the sense that it has no political, ethnic, gender, religious or national determination. If you are from Kuba then that's enough . Kuba is first and foremost a state of mind. This consciousness etched in childhood and constructed through adult life is more important than religion, or origin" (qtd. in Horrigan 2004: 3). The installation evokes the shantytown Kuba as an urban myth (no one really knows where it is), an illegal settlement located somewhere on the outskirts of Istanbul. Kuba exists not in official records but in the imagination of people who do not occupy the secure place of citizenship. Bahri informs us in the installation: "They named this place Kuba. To tell the truth, I don't know this name. Who named it, why? How? I really don't know." Yet Zubeyde provides another explanation: "I don't know why they call it Kuba. There was a film once on television, I remember. Wasn't there? There was a film. A film about Cuba. A poor place where there were a lot of fights. Because of that film, the young people, they spread that name around and it stuck." A very young Kuba resident Arafat says: "It's a nice neighborhood. When you are from Kuba, you look and act bigger. When you go places, people don't dare to bother you. 'I'll beat you up,' he says, 'I'm from Kuba. If you mess with me, I have a lot of people behind me.'" The stories of Kttba propose a postnational basis of collective identification, one based upon the construction of a culture of non-belonging, exclusion, and resistance to authority within common experiences of displacement, violence, and poverty.

In his interviews, Ataman insists that Kttba is not an overtly political artwork about the Kurdish minority or urban poverty in Turkey. Rather than reconstructing the specific suburban area in Istanbul, Ataman attempts to create an imaginary place that could be anywhere in the world, that could be defined not as a real, territorially bounded geographical location but as a metaphor, as a state of mind. Bill Horrigan suggests, "what matters to Ataman are 'alien narratives coming into an alien city and mixing with it.' Village by village, legally and illegally, Turkey is absorbed into the European union" (2004: 4). Hence, for Ataman, Kttba is about various articulations of a precarious collective identity and resistance to authority that could be found on the edges of any major city. Ataman highlights the creation of a defiant collective identity rather than the historical and sociocultural context of the stories. But this attempt to downplay the specificity of Kttba becomes difficult when the weight of the individual stories that involve civil war, the state of emergency, or military coups as well as poverty and domestic and sexual violence exert their own pressure on the work. When we think of the Kuba residents in the larger context of European mobilities and the question of the borders of the European Union, we realize that Kttba's story is not new. Ataman brings Kttba's stories into an interpretive arrangement with the long tradition of labor migration but also with the current dynamics of undocumented migration and urban segregation (Kuba residents might be seen as potential "illegal" migrants by the European Union). The intertwined stories of a mobility that stretches toward Europe include Turkish German labor migration and the increasing anti-immigration sentiments both in Turkey and Europe, and do not only belong to the private lives of a group of shantytown people. The stories of Kttba and the installation placed in specific sites in Europe questions what it means to belong to a European space and who has access to its collective. As a site-specific video installation, Kttba performs material and symbolic interventions into various public and private spaces, and it locates the metropolitan city as a place where belonging, the right to be in the world, is negotiated.

Notes

I would like to thank Deniz Gokturk, Barbara Mennel, and William Weprin for reading and commenting on earlier versions of this text.

  • 1. Lola and Billy the Kid won the Teddy Special Jury Award at the Berlin Film Festival and the Best Film Award at New Festival, New York in 1999.
  • 2. Many scholars have noted the shift from the earlier stereotypical representations of the victimized migrant to a new cinematic language that involves transnational and transcultural encounters and multiple border crossings. Ayse Polat, Fatih Akin, Aysun Bademsoy, Yuksel Yavuz, Seyhan Derin, Thomas Arslan, among others, belong to this new wave of filmmaking that fosters a hybrid and plural Turkish German cultural identity (Gokturk 2002a; Mennel 2002a).
  • 3. Ataman received the Turkish Film Critics Association Best Director, Best Film, and Best Screenplay Awards with his first feature film Karanlik Sular (Serpent's Tale, 1993). Iki Geng Kiz (2 Girls, 2005) won the Best Director Award at the Antalya International Film Festival and Istanbul International Film Festival.
  • 4. Alisa Lebow documents Ataman's professional trajectory: "His work has been included in some of the best known and arguably most important international exhibitions of the past decade, including Documenta XI (2002), the Berlin Biennale (2001), the forty- eighth Venice Biennale (1999), Manifesta 2 (1998), and many more. In New York City, he is represented by Lehmann-Maupin, a well-placed Chelsea gallery, where he has had nearly one major show every year, each involving multi-channel video projections of his documentary images. He is also represented by high-profile galleries in Chicago, Sydney, and Istanbul" (2007-8: 58).
  • 5. To explain the extended duration of the piece, Ataman states that semiha b. unplugged "is about life, it could be as long as one wishes. I very well remember thinking this: Make it impossible to watch. Because in eight hours, you at least have to pee or you get hungry, it's impossible to watch it in one go. Like a metaphor for life. You come and go, and continue watching from another bit" (qtd. in Baykal 2008: 25).
  • 6. Kuba won the prestigious Carnegie Prize in 2004.
  • 7. Ipek Tureli refers to Halit Refig's Gurbet Kuslari (Birds of Exile, 1964) and Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Uzak (Distant, 2002) as "the earliest and latest most well-known examples of internal (rural-to-urban) migration films" (2010: 144).
 
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