They is a violent word.
Perhaps more innocuous
sounding in other
nations, it carries
within itself a separation, a detachment particularly dangerous in the context
Turkey—a country whose national identity is rapidly deteriorating. Some citizens
would even argue that individuals calling themselves Turkish rather than merely
“from Turkey” are telegraphing specific encoded information not just about their
nationalities but also their religions and sects. İpek Duben’s video interviews,
majestically installed, form a chorus of voices often missing from public
less mainstream and only heard when sought out—those of minorities, women,
of domestic abuse, queer individuals. They’re all interviewed in the same style:
against a black background, either seated or standing, and talking to an
While the narrative content—the anecdotes, the timelines, the interactions—is
politically and socially (not to mention emotionally) charged, the evocative yet
matter-of-fact manner in which it's conveyed is itself powerful, an acutely
political artistic gesture. After all, Duben’s sustained dialogues with the
interviewees become a form of keeping track, of writing, that is poignant in its
simplicity yet confrontational in its timeliness and subject matter.
The dark gallery space in which the exhibition is ensconced is part of SALT
a new extension of the former Ottoman Bank that now also hosts the archives of
imperial institution; the dialogues here tread on the history that once was, in
order to construct the history that should be.