NOWs: Untitled (Gülşen & Hüseyin) by Aykan Safoğlu
In the two-channel video installation Untitled (Gülşen & Hüseyin), 2015, Aykan Safoǧlu traces the life story of his uncle Hüseyin, who immigrated to Germany to join the growing workforce of Turkish workers there in the early 1960s. On one screen, Safoğlu is seen directing his friend Gülşen Aktaş to pose as his uncle, in a recreation of an early photograph. Gülşen, who lives in Berlin, is prompted by the artist to participate in an exercise designed to elicit empathy for the character she is playing. The Turkish-born artist, who also lives in Germany, is looking for insight. The second screen tells of the ups and downs of Hüseyin’s life as a cleaning person, in the form of scrawled statements and drawings on a bathroom wall. The intimacy of the juxtaposed storytelling modes relates to Safoğlu’s own search for alternative modes of survival to meet the challenges of maintaining his identity in the face of dislocation and sexual bias. With this piece, Safoğlu proves himself to be a nuanced storyteller, a capable historian for “otherness,” and a queerer of history. With this piece, Safoğlu proves himself to be a nuanced storyteller, a capable historian for “otherness,” and a queerer of history – reclaiming history, rewriting it – as he did with Off-White Tulips, 2013.
The work is presented in the context of the exhibition Father Figures Are Hard To Find at nGbK Berlin on 17 April 2016, 5-7 pm. The artist Aykan Safoǧlu will be present for a screening, conversation and guided tour at 6 pm.