Motifs vs Themes vs Attitudes: Video Art from Armenia and Turkey

Motifs vs Themes vs Attitudes: Video Art from Armenia and Turkey

Seda Shekoyan, Curator and Art Critic

Thursday, March 19, 2015, 18.30

Multipurpose Hall


Through the Turkey-Armenia Fellowship Scheme established by the Hrant Dink Foundation, Seda Shekoyan has been conducting her research in Istanbul Modern’s curatorial department since October 2014. Shekoyan did research for an event that comprises a presentation and video screening program on video art in Armenia and Turkey.

Organized within the scope of the program Artists’ Film International 2014-2015 that focuses on contemporary video art, the event looks at the artistic issues shared by two neighboring countries through videos produced since 2000 by 6 artists of different generations from Turkey and Armenia.

Aiming to enable encounters on three different levels among the videos to be screened under the heading “Motifs vs Themes vs Attitudes”Seda Shekoyan explores the relationship between art and reality through documentary images.

“Themes offer shared content such as past, history, memory, labor, unease, nature, and culture. Motif, a repetitive element, focuses on the idea behind movement, architecture, nature and the body, while attitudes constitute a space of encounter, pointing to Armenia and Turkey’s common past, their present, and their possibly intertwined futures; their common history, culture, and lives.” 



Tigran Khachatryan
Man with the Video Camera, 2009, 13’’ 37’

“Man with the Video Camera” is a remake of Dziga Vertov’s “Man with a Movie Camera” (1929). The video tells the story of a character who remembers his own revolutionary past.

Tigran Khachatryan was inspired by the period from 1861 to 1928 in Russia, which was known for its openness, its freedom of the body and the mind. In this video, Khachatryan traces the concept of “fair politics”, an approach to politics that serves only the idea of justice. Debates on “fair politics” have been of crucial importance to intellectuals of the Russian empire, the Soviet Union, as well as all the post‐Soviet states.

Ovsanna Shekoyan
Unusual Dinner, 2015, 7’’ 53’

The video Unusual Dinner deals with the relationship of art and reality, and their interchangeable characteristics. The film begins with the invasion of a camera into someone's apartment flat, where one witnesses the routine of everyday life. Metaphysical video sequences, referring to various films in which the idea of comfort is destroyed, break into the reality and create discomfort in the “invaded” flat.

Diana Hakobyan
Enter without Exit, 2001, 3’’ 9’

In her videos, Diana Hakobyan treats of the female identity, body, and social role. In Enter without Exit, she combines elements which are both challenging and effortless, cheerful and profound in meaning, verbal and visual. The discourse in Hakobyan’s work is based on the post-Soviet problem-solving style, which adopted “constructive criticism” rather than “rejectionist opposition”.

Sefer Memişoğlu
BREEZE, 2011, 8’ 18’’

In his moving-image project Breeze, Sefer Memişoğlu uses images of a documentary nature and the pixel-based structure of digital media to express, in a constructed manner, social memory and the reality of the consumption of popular culture.


Gülsün Karamustafa
Memory of a Square (as seen from inside), 2005, 16’

Istanbul Museum of Modern Art Collection

Eczacıbaşı Group Donation

Making reference to the relationship between public and private space, the video Memory of a Square is screened simultaneously on two screens. On one screen we see a family in an interior space, while on the other flow real-life images from one of Istanbul’s main squares.


Ali Kazma
Taxidermist, from Obstructions series, 2009, 10’
Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı Foundation Collection

Long Term Loan

Centering on human labor and conditions, Ali Kazma’s series Obstructions treats of professions and production techniques which are not the first to come to mind in our day. By reproducing the moments when the human body is involved in the production process, he alienates the viewer from their own world.