STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN.- Index, The Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation presents Fikret Atay, through November 14, 2004. Kurdish artist Fikret Atay lives and works in Batman, the town of his birth, situated in south-eastern Anatolia. The region runs along theTurkey-Iraq border and political and social aspects in the area are characterised by the presence of the military, poverty and political oppression targeting certain ethnic minorities. These local surroundings and the people living there provide the inspiration for Fikret Atay¹s work. The artist works with video, a quick, simple and easy-to-carry medium that lends the work a documentary character: that consists, more or less, of a sequence of staged events where the artist captures, with the handheld camera, the essence of how a traditional culture, given the above mentioned circumstances, is mixed together with Western influences.
The action portrayed in short, concise video takes tends to show creative individuals or team performances, for example, dancing, singing, reading or playing an instrument. Occasionally, one finds a meaning to the action in terms of folklore or ritual. The video ’Fast and Best’ (2002, 7.29 min), currently showing in the exhibition at Index, was filmed in Batman and shows a group of dancers rehearsing a traditional Kurdish dance before performing on stage as part of a competition. The video shows, in a discreet but direct way, how each individual must be self-disciplined in order to be part of the collective situation, where together they try to attain the desired ideal. The way the camera crops the image underlines this fact - the dancers are filmed from the waist down making it impossible to identify particular individuals. Instead the work expresses the collective effort, which further indicates the presence of an underlying element of fight and cultural resistance.
When the filmed episodes are removed from the original context, it becomes apparent that certain cultural codes can only partially be understood outside their context. According to Turkish art critic, Erden Kosova: "It could be claimed that Fikret Atay¹s work is more about strategies of coding than a situation that offers opportunities for communication and legibility." Fikret Atay¹s work shows us a series of events that we recognise, yet still only have a partial ability to comprehend their meaning.