Observations: Britishness plays it for reel
Friday 20 March 2009
Kutlug Ataman is Turkey's foremost contemporary artist, but for his latest exhibition at Thomas Dane Gallery in London, he's turned his eye on the subject of Britishness.
The Turner Prize-nominated artist is showing a new work, fff, which consists of 10 video installations based on genuine cine-reel footage of two English families from the 1950s and 1960s, accompanied by a score composed by Michael Nyman. All the film reels with individual scores are played simultaneously in the same space to create an operatic cacophony of sounds and sights. Four of the films will be shown on Channel 4 from Monday to Thursday next week in its 3 Minute Wonder slot.
An abbreviation for "found family footage", fff consists of images borrowed by Ataman from the archives of two British families, the Fryers and the Howards, whose fathers were both pioneering researchers into the effects of G-forces on pilots. The viewer sees clips of family life – someone brushing her hair, a child kicking a football, another licking an ice-cream cone.
The work plays with ideas of English nostalgia from the perspective of an immigrant. Ataman's preoccupation with Englishness may have stemmed partly from his British partner, Martin Fryer, whose family became part of the artwork. The Istanbul-born artist gained British citizenship in 2002 and now lives in east London.
"It was sheer chance that I watched the family footage that Martin brought home," he says. "It sparked the idea in my mind and I started developing a narrative around people coming in from different cultures and rebuilding their lives and their identities. I wanted to use footage I had found rather than created, as it was a metaphor for coming into a new, host culture and repositioning myself in it by editing these images."
He has, in the past, explored his Turkish heritage through his artwork, most dramatically in his submission to the Istanbul Biennial. That was a film featuring his Armenian nanny, who suffered from Alzheimer's, so was unable to carry out her desired task of talking about her personal history. It was, says the artist, an indirect comment on the collective amnesia towards Armenian history in Turkish society.
For now, his Turkishness is an aspect of his identity that he has exhausted. "It's not so Turkish-specific any more. I have dealt with it as much as I can. I'm more excited to be in Britain and to be part of a more global culture."
To 18 April ( www.thomasdane.com)
film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
- 5 Rashida Jones speaks out against male-centric porn saying 'women should have sex and feel good about it'
Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
Game of Thrones really doesn't want Danny Dyer - EastEnders star rejected three times
Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
The secret joke hidden in Silence of the Lambs' most famous line
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account