Scenario by Köken Ergun and CANAN
posted by: Esra Sarigedik Oektem
The scenario by Köken Ergun and CANAN is the third scenario curated by Esra Sarigedik Öktem within the framework of the Scenarios about Europe project.
The narrative for Scenarios about Europe developed by curator Esra Sarigedik Öktem continues to think through the complexities of cultural translation, bringing into question the very meaning of Europe from a non-European perspective. For the third and final scenario, two artistic positions are presented: Köken Ergun who lives and works between Istanbul and Berlin and CANAN who lives and works in Istanbul. Both artists deal with a critique of Orientalism and the issue of exoticism in cultural relations between the East and the West.
Köken Ergun’s film Binibining Promised Land addresses the migration of Filipino guest workers that are living within the State of Israel. The majority are female and work as caregivers for the elderly or sick. In Tel Aviv they live in shantytown conditions around the central bus station also known as the "Tachana Merkazit". On Saturdays, buses in the Tachana do not work, and this giant modernist building is occupied by guest workers that spend their time shopping, partying and socialising in bars, clubs and shops within the compound.
Beauty contests are very popular among Filipinos both at home and abroad. "Binibining Filipinas" is the most important beauty pageant in the Philippines, established in 1964. The Filipino community in Tel Aviv created their own beauty pageant in a nightclub inside the Tachana Merkazit and named it "Binibining Filipinas Israel".
Although Ergun's film is not directly concerned with Europe, it shows hierarchies and subordination of the Filipinas in Israel comparable to the relationship to the West CANAN describes in her work. Ergun's film shows the power of a transnational community, how it adapts to the new living circumstances without loosing its customs, and it indicates how closely connected parts of the world have become nowadays.
CANAN’s video Turkish Delight is presented in the cinema space accompanied by a series of photographs displayed in the adjacent corridor. In this video, which criticises oriental art and its representation in art history, the artist reanimates a series of paintings that have become symbols of the Orient. She emphasises the importance of art history as a visual history and references Jeremy Bentham’s notion of the "Panopticon" – as discussed by Michel Foucault in his book Discipline and Punish, The Birth of the Prison, 1971 – which is a form of subjugation by means of "potency through transparency" and "clarification". This is an appropriate image, particularly with regards to thinking about the eroticised portrayal of Muslim women in such representations, where increasing the transparency of the walls of the harem and the women’s veils symbolically violates them. In this case, the sexual panopticism (being able to see everything) from the position of the West emerges to assume power over the East. The artist, who dances to the music in the video nearly stands still and poses under the camera lights during the shooting of the video; she plays the role of the oriental women similar to the figures in the historical paintings and re-appropriates their depiction.
From the usage of frames of the paintings to the choice of colour for the corridor wall where the photographs are hung, from the lyrics that accompany the oriental dance to the set up and illumination of the space, this presentation takes an approach that attempts to both guard itself and reach the viewer.
Binibining Promised Land, 2009–2010
Turkish Delight, 2011
posted by Esra Sarigedik Oektem