Whenever Atom Egoyan zooms his video camera onto something, you know the product can be at times hermeneutic, but more often wonderfully lucid.
This year, the Armenian Canadian filmmaker has joined with Turkish artist, Kutlag Ataman, to create a multimedia installation slated to premier this Friday in Toronto as part of the new Luminato festival.
Based on the track record of each creative genius, the artistic dialogue between Egoyan and Ataman promises great things.
Born in Istanbul in 1961, Ataman studied film at the Sorbonne and at UCLA. He went on to win numerous awards for his films, including The Serpent’s Tale (1993) and Lola + Bilidikid (1998), which was the first film about the gay Turkish subculture which exists in Germany, before deciding to explore his ideas within an art environment. He was nominated for the London Tate Gallery’s Turner prize in 2004 and has been attracting an increasing amount of attention ever since (Tate/Turner factsheet).
Egoyan is also rooted in film, best known for his Academy Award nominated The Sweet Hereafter (1997). But the Canadian director has since branched out to direct opera and create art.
The joint work by this multi-faceted pair sounds intriguing, as this short blurb suggests:
“Auroras/Testimony” will be an exhibition of video portraits by artist Kutlug Ataman and filmmaker Atom Egoyan. Kutlug Ataman’s video is a portrait of his aging childhood nanny who also played the same role for Kutlug’s father. Atom Egoyan’s silent film is of an early twentieth-century actress, Aurora. (source)
Flash Art published an interview with Egoyan & Ataman this month and the article offers some insight into the common ground the two share:
Atom Egoyan (AE) – But I’m thinking about Ararat. Ararat is a film. People, especially many Turkish people, had an idea of the film without seeing it, and they would get very angry about it.
Kutlag Ataman (KA) – Yes, exactly…
AE – And to me the crucial moment was when Ararat was bought for distribution and it still wasn’t released because there was a nationalist wing who threatened to bomb the theater. They created violence against the distributor, and this became an installation.There was this epic, horrible, historical piece, and additionally an installation involving the circumstances of its premiere, which was happening outside of the film itself.
KA – You see, in my case, I have to be commercial now with the pressures that I have. I am willing to make more commercial films now, because otherwise I cannot exist in Turkey!
AE – There’s an interesting contrast between the Western idea of compensation, attention and distribution and the non-Western, more primal need for accessibility. We take accessibility for granted; we are very spoiled and we want something more substantial.
KA – The scary thing is that we all exist because of our stories, and if your stories are not told or preserved then your history doesn’t exist anymore. You have official history, or whatever, but your oral history, your mythology, is very important: you either exist or not. (PDF of Flash Art article courtesy Lehmann Maupin Gallery)
Fortunately, a friend has promised me to document the installation for my blog, so I will report back with her thoughts and images as soon as she returns.
AURORAS/TESTIMONY by Atom Egoyan, Kutlug Ataman (listing) – Artcore in Toronto’s Distillery Historic District (June 1 – 10, 2007)