Kutlug Ataman: ISTANBUL MODERN
Paynter, November, Artforum International
Kutlug Ataman first gained prominence when his eight-hour video installation semiha b. unplugged, 1997, was included in that year's Istanbul Biennial. Since then he has occasionally shown works in Turkey, but, though he has been exceptionally well represented on the international art map--he received a nomination for the Tate's Turner Prize in 2004--this exhibition, "The Enemy Inside of Me," is his first retrospective in his homeland.
Featuring eleven works dating from 1999 to 2010, the selection incorporates significant productions that mark key moments in the development of Ataman's career. Two works--It's a Vicious Circle, 2002, and Paradise, 2007--fill the atrium that leads to the main temporary gallery hall of Istanbul Modern, which has been completely darkened to host the additional nine video installations. It is possible to enter this hall from both sides, but the left entrance, which begins with fff, 2006-2009, a constellation of videos presented in the style of a wall of family photos, seems more happily to open the show. The title stands for "found family footage," and the work is made up of home movies taken by two British families in the 1950s and '60s. The juxtaposition of scenes that include family outings, domestic playtime, and military practice jumbles memories together to create a new composite memory that, as in all Ataman's works, subtly involves the artist himself--in this case, his attempt to grasp and adapt to the culture that he has participated in for many years since dividing his life and home between Istanbul and London.
The Four Seasons of Veronica Read, 2002, and Stefan's Room, 2004, are both about personal obsessions and focus intently on the subjects who narrate their stories. The first charts an English gardener's devoted interest in hippeastrum flowers as she does everything required to produce perfect blooms. Four screens encircle and capture the viewer within the daily routine of planting, bulb inspection, watering, and care. …