This yearning is ours! Exhibition catalogue text on Volkan Kızıltunç

 

Lora Sarıaslan

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.

 

1 Marc Augé, An Anthropology for Contemporaneous Worlds (Stanford, California, Stanford

University Press, 1999), 89-90.