GAPS OF MEMORY “ISTANBUL”
4 channel video, 5’ 14’’ each, with sound
Archiving, nostalgia, heritage, memory, re-enactment, and documentation have been popular themes and methods in the contemporary art world. The intersection of history, memory, and the present is at the heart of Volkan Kızıltunç’s work. As a photographer and video artist Kızıltunç prefers to focus on the liaison between photography and the moving picture. Gaps of Memory-“ISTANBUL” presents 8 and super 8mm films shot between 1965 and 1985 which are assembled to create a new image. Kızıltunç, in a manner similar to archaeologists, unearths memorial artifacts through found materials and literally sheds light on them. Nearly 2000 reels of film that belonged to 100 families show images of Istanbul, the Bosphorus, and coastal parts of the city enabling reflection on a period in terms of its economical, political, and societal changes. By its sheer content, it shows the urban development of the city in the 1970s in addition to the different classes within the society, and life in diverse neighborhoods by the water. Even the sound of the installation, which is based on the rolling of the film reel, resembles the sound of breaking up the concrete by machines. Concentrating on how memory (re)shapes history, the installation showcases a long gone era through the lens of memory. A cinematic representation of the city that is connected to the anonymous persona is presented…at once known and unknown, missed and gone, familiar and not. Through these films, we observe the city and its anonymous residents.
There is twofold meaning in Kızıltunç’s work: first, it initiates nostalgia for the past; second, as we become voyeurs watching the personal memories of others, of times past and lived, we are engulfed in uneasiness as we are confronted with a complex layering of references, locations, people, events, and yet we do not know the exact stories behind them, and moreover, we realize that those times will never be lived again. This powerlessness creates a simultaneous connection and exclusion; let it be cultural, periodical, intellectual, or political. With his installation, Kızıltunç is converting elements of memory into memory sculptures with the four screens placed on pedestals. As Marc Augé notes, “… since the image also functions as memory, reference point, imaginative creation and/or re-creation.” 1 Kızıltunç both offers us that reference point and simultaneously takes it away. Presenting interwoven periods of time, this rich visual material that is classified, categorized, and sorted in a lyric rhythm awakens memories and thoughts that we will never be able to verify and live again.