Selections from Turkey
 Basak Senova
artists: Özlem Sulak, Basak Kaptan, Zeren Göktan, Bengisu Bayrak
venue: Fondazione Merz
coordinates: Torino, 2009


curated by Francesco Poli, Francesco Bernardelli, Mario Gorni, Paola Nicita and Cristiana Perrella
Artegiovane Nazionale


The selection incorporates four young women artists’ works, which are based on long-term research. Their research process nurtures itself through interdisciplinary sources and this aspect clearly manifests itself with the documentary tone that these works inhabit. Each video piece clearly indicates its production process. Nevertheless, their subject matters alter diverse issues of social, political, cultural, and economic aspects of our daily life. Each work, in its own way, has the restrained intention of trying to understand the local realities that surround us and shape our identity. In this sense, this selection all together communicates some off the record information about various conditions and realities in Turkey. Lacan conceived the past, the present, and the future of a linguistic order. In the same line of thought, the “colonial” historical continuity is also dependent upon the realm of speech. The “off-the-record” narratives have the potential to generate voids in the vortex of registered signifiers. We clearly witness such narratives in different verbal and visual levels in each work. In case of Ozlem Sulak, it is the memories and even jokes of the grannies took place in the interview which conceals unheard of information about the history and the collective memory of two nations; in Basak Kaptan’s work, it is the cultural productions which give hints about the nature of the popular culture in Turkey; Zeren Goktan’s documentary gives snapshots about the social, cultural and economical situation of the current state of the country; and finally Bengisu Bayrak’s work questions the relevance of religious messages for contemporary life in Turkey through the small anecdotes of the interviewees. Some of these narratives belong to the present-day while some of them derive from the recent past, which shapes the present.

Özlem Sulak
“Granny” (2005), 9′

Granny (2005) is a short video about personal histories. The artist conducts an interview with two old women about their story of immigration from Yugoslavia to Turkey. Through the conversation of these two women who are the grandmother and the great-aunt of the artist, we get acquainted with some off the record and veiled information about the history and the collective memory of two nations.

Basak Kaptan
“Windshield Strategies” (2008), 5’13”

Windshield Strategies is a two chaptered video created by stop motion animation technique. In the first part, various indispensable accesories of truck drivers, traditional ornaments, car decoration items of 80’s which were a means of an identity revealing/belonging stage, are shown like a parade on the windscreen. These mobile objects animated with the sounds turns an abandoned car ‘Serce’ into a stage where these collected objects can perform through the past. In the second part  of the video through a colourmatic chaos of letters, words and rhymes in the popular car stickers of the period come on the screen while a foreign voice is trying to understand and interpret then translate to English.

Zeren Göktan
Extracts from “We are Volunteers” (2007) 15′

Non-Governmental Organizations are the buzzword of the day. The EU process in Turkey transforms state and society relations and removes legal obstacles to the advancement of NGOs but what do the people who volunteer in them think? This documentary is about volunteers in Turkey, be they bird watchers, teachers, activists in women’s rights or doctors. By giving voice to volunteers by way of interviews, the project aims to create a meaningful, fruitful and interesting debate about issues and themes surrounding voluntarism. The stories of individuals who have taken civic responsibility paints a diverse picture and understandings as to why they volunteer and how they see the future of volunteering while also exposing the strengths and weaknesses of the NGOs in Turkey, sector by sector. The documentary also contains comments by leading scholars in the field and NGO representatives about the third sector and promises to be an optimistic story about the future in Turkey.

Bengisu Bayrak Fast-Iman, Documentary, (2003) 10′ 13”

“Fast-Iman” questions the relevance of religious messages for contemporary life. On another level, it also documents the consequences of neo-liberal economy on our way of life. The video documents a strategy developed by a mosque in Istanbul by running lines from the Quaran on a digital display screen above the entrance of the mosque.

Other Screenings