SELF-ORIENTATIONS Screening Program
SELF-ORIENTATIONS brings together Turkish and Lebanese artists whose moving image works incorporate queer & feminist self-makings using, manipulating, and correcting the orientalist gaze, voluptuous fantasies, and perennial expectations from the oriental other. Curated by Alper Turan and conceived within the exhibition, Partisans of the Nude: An Arab Art Genre in an Era of Contest, 1920 -1960, SELF-ORIENTATIONS includes artists’ video, documentary, essay film, performance documentation, and desktop film by İz Öztat & Ra, Deniz Pasha, Şükran Moral, Nadir Sönmez, Ardıl Yalınkılıç, Nil Yalter and Akram Zaatari. This screening program flips the oriental lens reduced to passive imagery and objectification, bringing forth fervent narratives of libidinal energies, feminist audacities, queer storytelling and black revisionism of orients and orientations. Through the scenes from photography studios, Ottoman harem, İstanbul brothel to Amed streets, selected works vibrate the positions of the viewer and the viewed, exposed, and exposer, the urge to show and the need to hide the bodies.
The full program follows below the registration link.
SELF-ORIENTATIONS is a collaboration between ArteEast and the Wallach Art Gallery as part of the legacy program Unpacking the ArteArchive which preserves and presents 20 years of film and video programming by ArteEast. The screening program is curated by Alper Turan in conjunction with the Wallach Art Gallery exhibition Partisans of the Nude: An Arab Art Genre in an Era of Contest, 1920-1960, curated by Kirsten Scheid.
The program will be screened at Columbia University’s Lenfest Center for the Arts on January 13th and online on artearchive.org from January 11- 21, 2024.
To register for the in-person screening please use the link below.
Akram Zaatari, Her + Him VAN LEO, 2001-2012, documentary, 33 min., Egypt / Lebanon
In 1998, Zaatari interviewed Egyptian photographer Van Leo in Cairo. In 2001 he made the video Her + Him Van Leo and based it on the story of a woman who once entered Studio Van Leo and asked the artist to take pictures of her naked. At the time, Zaatari had access to a few of the woman’s twelve pictures. In 2010 Zaatari came across the entire series showing “Nadia” undressing in twelve poses and expanded the original work into this HD remastered version.
This documentary utilizes traditional portrait photography and video in a dialogue between two media: crafted black and white print, and the electronically colored and manipulated screen. This dialog comments on the transformations in art practices and terminologies, and evokes some of the social/urban/political transformations that took place in Egypt over 50 years of its recent history.
Iz Öztat and Ra, Boo Boo, 2022, video, 7 min., Turkey
In the ongoing body of work titled Every name in history is I and I is other, İz Öztat fabricates the (auto)biography of Zişan (1894-1970), who appears to her as a historical figure, a ghost, and an alter ego. She takes on Zişan’s archives and interprets them through her practice to propose a complex temporality where a suppressed past haunts an increasingly authoritarian present.
The chapter titled Boo Boo feeds off the research process that seeks to imagine the love affair between Zişan and Vita (Sackville-West), who meet in Istanbul, in 1913. While Zişan works at the photography studio of her father Dikran Bey, Vita comes in to have her photograph taken. They fall in love at first sight. During the one-year period when Vita lives in Istanbul, they spend time in the photography studio, imagining each other in the representations they produce, getting to know each other’s desires and documenting their love.
Şükran Moral, Bordello, 1997, performance documentation, 8 min., Turkey
Bordello is a documentation of performance Şükran Moral did in 1997 in one of the small brothels in Istanbul. With self-confidence, she dons a nightgown and poses with a cigarette between red nails, offers herself for sale and uses this provocative gesture of self-determination to put off every potential client. At the same time she takes a small side-swipe at the art scene by renaming the establishment the Museum of Modern Art. In her works, which often take the form of performance art, Şükran Moral addresses traditional themes of emancipation art of the 1960s and 1970s and transposes them in a masterly fashion into the social structures of conservative and authoritarian systems. Şükran Moral’s work also highlights how asynchronous social and cultural developments are.
Deniz Pasha, Orientations, 2022, desktop-film, 15 min., Turkey
In this desktop-film, the Afro-Turkish artist, Deniz Pasha, together with her friends Jazmine Mussington and Mario Lamar, looks at the Western orientalist-style depictions of the Ottoman harem and visually analyzes the black people’s representations, who are mostly left in shadow, covered, and unidentifiable. On the computer screen page of Photoshop, as an act to nullify the racial degradation, she revises those representations with pictures of contemporary Black people living in Turkey.
Ardıl Yalınkılıç, The Gaze, 2018, video, 8 min., Netherlands
The Gaze is a video by the artist Ardıl Yalınkılıç based on a series of interviews he conducted in The Hague during his exchange study. He invited six white fellow art students from different European countries to participate in the interview and he asked them to answer his questions pretending to be himself. The only things they knew about Yalınkılıç were his name and that he came from Turkey. The final edit of the answers of the Western subjects imitating the non-Western one brings truths and seated cliches about the other altogether, with certain empathy but also an impenetrable gap in mutual understanding.
Nadir Sönmez, Boran, 2022, video-essay, 14 min., Turkey
Boran is a video work originally created for actor and director Nadir Sönmez’s lecture performance titled “Diyarbakır.Tourism.Romanticism.Activism.” Nadir Sönmez, an Istanbul-born and based artist, theater director, and actor, embarked on a journey to Diyarbakır with a European grant to delve into the recent local histories of the LGBTI+ struggle. During his exploration, he discovered Kurdish literature, engaging in conversations, romantic escapades, and extensive readings that inspired him to write essays and stories.