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Stories No Longer Untold

By 7th February 2021March 25th, 2021No Comments

Fatma Bucak by Castello di Rivoli

Remains of what has not been said, 2016 (7 February 2016 | 1 April 2016 | 13 April 2016) 84 Digital archival pigment prints, 23×28,5 cm / each. Originally commissioned and produced by Fondazione Sardi per l‘Arte. © Fatma Bucak

I think that people increasingly feel deflated and defeated, as well as frustrated by the seeming impossibility of any real change. One can only cling to the hope that there are “new” ways of thinking, discussing, and challenging things through documenting realities that we did not see, and that some of those movements lead to real change.

Fall, 2013, From the series Four Ages of Woman. Still image. HD digital video, colour, sound, 3 minutes 26 seconds

Fatma Bucak’s works, as seen in the exhibition Acts of Erasure at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto. Now extended until May 2021. © Fatma Bucak

Stories No Longer Untold: When I have to cross the bar, 2015. Still image. Video by Fatma Bucak

When I have to cross the bar, 2015. Still image. HD digital video, colour, sound, 3 minutes 15 seconds. Originally commissioned and produced by Artpace San Antonio.

PK: In A Study of Eight Landscapes you bring together seemingly everyday objects from areas such as the Turkish/Armenian and US/Mexico borders. What meaning do these objects take on in this work?

FB: From 2011 I have been working on borders. During that time, I have observed the presence of objects that are common on both side’s borders. I started to collect those objects of liminal places. Sometimes it is bread shared by multiple communities, sometimes a metal bar stuck in the mouth of a fish in a river dividing the land of two countries, sometimes a concrete block lying on a road to a rundown village on an actual border line. These collected objects become a kind of language that gives shape and form, as though a living sculpture, to that which is uncanny in these places. The images explore both the mental and material realities where the conditions of life are highly dependent on the entities on either side. Each image in the series becomes an argument for an undefined land with its dialectic relationship between the land itself and its identity.

I was interested, for the most part, in using objects that are encountered in everyday life. They are about being present when the body is absent, and they are composed in such a way that the familiar becomes strange, revealing a sense of hostility of uncertainty. Working on and about these places presents a challenge: to the political identity of the land, to historical interpretation, and to the erasure by violence of borders, of the geographical and aesthetic of landscapes themselves. There is this sense of transformation, of transition, of pause, and of anticipation that leaves room to find my own words to interpret what I saw, sometimes lived, and felt where nothing is as safe as it appears. This is where I create my own order.

PK: Gender and the male gaze also feature as themes throughout your work. Do you feel it is important to champion the voices of women photographers? Why so?

FB: There was an interesting article I came across in 2019, suggesting that although the majority of students in undergraduate and graduate photojournalism programs are women, women made up just 15 percent of entries to the World Press Photo awards between 2012 and 2017. A survey of major talent agency websites in Australia and their roster revealed that under 25 percent of agency-represented photographers are female. Femaleinfocus data suggests women photographers earn nearly 40 percent less than men in US, and more than 85 percent of commercial photographers are men. Clearly, gender bias is ingrained in this system. Sexism does not exclude art and photography. It is within our lives, jobs and politics. And this is why it’s important for us to remember these numbers and occupy ourselves with equality in salaries, job payments, in job opportunities etc. also in photography and in arts.

Images © Fatma Bucak