Fikret Atay: Kunstverein Fur Die Rheinlande Und Westfalen

By Smolik, Noemi | Artforum International, April 2006 | Go to article overview

Fikret Atay: Kunstverein Fur Die Rheinlande Und Westfalen


Smolik, Noemi, Artforum International


When I first saw Fikret Atay's work almost two years ago at Buro-Friedrich in Berlin, I was immediately impressed. His videos struck me as at once strange and familiar. When I saw them again recently at the Kunstverein Dusseldorf, the contrast between familiarity and strangeness was even more pronounced, and I realized that it is precisely this feeling of contradiction that makes these videos--by a Kurdish artist from Turkey--so fascinating and attractive.

In the video Fast and Best, 2002, teenagers perform Kurdish folk dances. The video shows only their legs clad in jeans and sneakers or boots, moving to the rhythm. Boys' and girls' legs indistinguishable, they step back and forth to the rhythms of traditional Kurdish songs that everyone knows in the city of Batman, in southern Anatolia, where Atay lived until recently. Like his other videos, Fast and Best was recorded with a simple handheld camera. Likewise, in Rebels of the Dance, 2002--the title is a reference to a TV dance show popular in Turkey, "Sultans of the Dance"--two boys, in a sterile ATM vestibule, sing and dance to simple Kurdish dance songs that play one after the other and ever faster, ever more rhythmically, and, of necessity, in their own invented language (Kurdish was outlawed in Turkey in the early '90s). Now and then one of the boys stands up and, looking somewhat bored, dances quickly past the ATM; then the other does the same. A simple performance makes one conscious of the contrast between the ATM as a sign of international capital versus the folk song as a symbol of the local. …

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