© Fikret Atay

Bang Bang!, 2003

Fikret Atay

BüroFriedrich presents the first solo exhibition of the young Turkish-Kurdish artist Fikret Atay. The location of the artist's hometown, Batman, serves as the primary basis of his recent video works. In this Kurdish area near the Turkey-Iraq border, where poverty, military intervention and political oppression are part of everyday life, it is next to impossible to produce art. Yet Atay has deliberately chosen to remain there, to live and work in this city, and finds the inspiration for his short films in these very circumstances.

In his videos, the artist observes the daily lives of young people in his town. Through a very simple mise-en-scène, with a hand-held camera and a particular sense for framing, he juxtaposes traditional cultural backgrounds and western influences, but does so without passing judgement. Removing actions and events from the given context of his hometown, he exposes codes that are common to us all.

The artist selects a specific aspect of local culture and underlines universal components. In "Rebels of the Dance" (2002), we see a trashy modern video clip but with a "traditional" content. Atay filmed two teenage boys near an ATM (cash machine) who sing an undecipherable text that is soon accompanied by a dance. The shift between tradition and modernity, in this case local and global culture codes, serves as the ultimate symbol of our new world.

The video "Bang Bang!" (2003) shows four boys "playing" war, between two immobile trains. Atay follows the two teams with his shaky, war-coverage filming style, while they target each other with toy pistols like players in an organic video game. The game ends with the dramatic "death" of one group. An everyday pastime of boys throughout the world takes another meaning altogether in the context of the geopolitical situation of Batman.

In his video "Fast and Best!" (2002) Atay presents a group of young people, practicing a traditional folkloric dance. The artist filmed the dancers from the waist down, so that it is almost impossible to figure out which dancer is a woman and which is a man. What stands out much more is the equality, the similar trousers, the shoes and the synchronized steps.

Fikret Atay was born in Batman, Turkey in 1976. He studied Fine Arts at the University of Dicle. Among his recent exhibitions, he participated in "Poetic Justice", the 8th International Biennale, Istanbul; "U-Topos", the 2nd Tirana Biennale (Albania); "In den Schluchten des Balkans", Kunsthalle Friedericianum, Kassel and "Undesire", Apexart Curatorial Program, NY.

Exhibition: January 17 - February 28, 2004
Gallery hours: Tue-Sat 12 - 6 pm

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