Fatherland, two-channel video installation with sound, colour and bw, 12’48’’
A Text for “Fatherland” by Baha Görkem Yalım
"How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here for ever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself." Virginia Woolf - The Waves
"... identity ... can only affirm itself as identity to itself by opening itself to the hospitality of a difference from itself or of a difference with itself. Condition of the self, such a difference from and with itself would then be its very thing ... the stranger at home." Jacques Derrida - Aporias
I was born in 1987, which means I never met my grandfather. The cold war era Turkey was riddled with political violence, followed by a coup d’état in 1980, the most violent of a history full of military interventions. Turkish Armed Forces ruled the country through the National Security Council before democracy was "restored" in 1983 with the general elections. This period, an era where Turkish nationalism of the state rose, the Kurdish language was banned, unyieldingly paved the way to today's Turkey, the Turkey I left in 2011.
In 1982, when my grandfather left his English class, he was wearing his glasses. Glasses are objects that carry a strong affordance and a symbolically charged meaning of use. Affordance is the potential action an object makes possible while making other potential actions invisible for the subject. When we see a pair of glasses, our hands are immediately drawn to its movement and functions. We are very accustomed to eyeglasses, and we readily accept them because they are there to make things more visible to us and more apparent. My grandfather needed his glasses to read and write for a classroom full of students. Perhaps he forgot he was wearing them—most of the time, we do. Seeing things is something we get used to very quickly.
He stepped outside to walk home. He was assassinated with a gunshot, aiming at his left eye. With this action from a distance, a subject is transmitted to an object. Not just as a layer of blood on the eyeglasses but also a much deeper level. The metaphysical paradox here finds a reflection also in the physical level. The eyeglasses kept from that moment are no longer the same glasses he saw the world from; when the keepsake was born, he wasn't there anymore. He never looked from the glasses of the keeper. From this transformation of the subject to the object, the distance the eyeglasses have with its keeper disappears. The mutability that shifts inaccessibility to accessibility is an essential part of the keepsake. The paradoxical core of the eyeglasses assimilates itself, creating a shift in speculation. The glasses act as a potentially active agent that engages with viewers as if the keepsake was the person and its viewers are mere things.