TURKEY-UK: Fikret Atay and Denizhan Özer

This dialogue ran from 22 November 2009 – 17 January 2010, after which the artists were invited to discuss ideas for new work. The dialogues have now ended, but you can see and engage with the development of the selected proposals here.

Fikret Atay

Fikret Atay

Denizhan Ozer

Denizhan Özer



When we look at the world of today, we can see that the wars, immigrations, dichotomy and human rights violations continue to take place. People who have been getting along fine for thousands of years are disaffiliating or fighting. The lives of human beings are worsening as time goes by instead of improving. The countries are dividing, people who have been living together harmoniously are left homeless and artificial borders are being set where they’re living. Violence, evil and militarism have replaced kindness, love and dialogue and have rendered the common living areas uninhabitable.

When we look at Turkey and its surrounding geography, the Balkans, Caucasia and the middle east, we can see that the violence, wars and dichotomies go on and ethnical nationalism as well as religious discourses gaining power. I was born in Hopa, a border county on the north east of Turkey . A village a little away from where I was born had been divided into two years ago when the borders between Georgia and Turkey were being determined. At first, people were trespassing from that border and later on the border was closed permanently. Years later, in 1989, the Sarp border was opened again and people began to meet each other as well as making commerce and establishing familial relationships. This was a beautiful improvement. What could be better than people coming together as well as establishing dialogue and new friendships.

Now, this border is open but may be closed again as a result of a war that may erupt. Even if such a case doesn’t happen, people are constantly under the unease and fear of such a possibility. Daily newspapers, websites and televisions are full of news regarding this unease. 2 years ago, if the Russian army had invaded Georgia , Turkey would close its borders. Maybe it would even go into war siding with the USA . It is a frightening fact that the lives of the people living there are based on such sensitive balances. That’s why I want to make an emotional film titled “Rejoining / Not Rejoining” criticizing this situation.


This is the story of a 30 year old man and women seeing each other for a few minutes and separating after a hug. It will especially not be indicated whether these two people who have seen each other for a short while are lovers, siblings, a married couple, relatives or neighbors. Viewers shall determine these themselves while watching the film. It is the story of two people getting out of the homes in different geographical points, going to the meeting place, overcoming certain geographical obstacles, passing through military checkpoints, meeting on the border line, hugging each other right on that line over the barriers and then separating, other other words, them being rejoining and then separating, not being able to rejoin.


The movie will be in the laz language. This is an ethnical language spoken in Georgia and Turkey . It hasn’t been written or taught for many years because of the governmental assimilation policies and remained as a spoken language used among the people living there. This language mostly known by the older generations is about to be forgotten and it is therefore of great importance that it is used in this film.


Two 30 year old actors who can speak the laz language as well as 50 locals residing at the villages nearby shall be used in the film. Acting talent isn’t required of the cast other than the two main characters and the people living in the area shall be used in order to preserve a natural feeling. The film is planned to be shot with a technical staff of 10 people consisting of a cameraman, electrician and sound operator.


During the shooting of the film, 2 high definition digital video cameras, the accessories of these cameras and sound systems shall be used.


The film will be shot in the Sarp, Liman, Esenkiyi and Bucak villages close to the border. The film will be shot in village houses, old mountain roads and the forestlands. Military clothes and the daily clothes worn by the locals will be used as costumes. As accessories, weapons such as machine guns, guns etc. for the soldiers and the militia as well as two motorized vehicles will be used.


The accommodation and lodging needs of the actors and the technical staff who are not locals and will come from outside the county shall be provided fort he the locals living nearby.

Denizhan Ozer

Proposal form

All our artists are invited to submit one or more proposals for new work, individually or collaboratively, by 1 April 2010. Please click here for the form:

iaa proposal form

what do YOU want (really)

back to basics – (I) what do YOU want to say? (II) how is your desire going to inhabit the language (medium) you intend to use?


In our day, we need true dialogue to be established in order for us to be able to speak of World Art. This dialogue that I’ve mentioned isn’t one that’s just between artists or persons and institutions involved in art. We also need dialogue to be established in the social life and political relations. Does such a dialogue really exist? When we take a look around, we see that this is not the case.

When we look at the life of mankind entering the 21st century, we can witness wars, violence, racism and invasion of the private life. It is not possible to claim that the education given in schools is qualified. People are living superficial lives. They view everyone with different culture and life styles other than themselves as “the others” and respond to life accordingly.  As a result, people are constantly becoming more and more alienated from each other. I don’t know how effective World Art can be under such circumstances.

Please do not get the idea that I’m against the World Art concept. On the contrary, this elegant idea needs to be developed and dignified. That’s why I believe that this project is highly significant and that it needs to be spread to the other countries of the world. If musicians and men of letters can accomplish this, so can the artists. Denizhan Ozer.

iaa dialogue official end date 17 Jan. however…

some dialogues will continue

after midnight

Thank you!

Those of you who have expressed interest in communicating beyond today’s end date  can do so by either continuing the current dialogue, or by migrating to another ‘country’ and establishing a dialogue with a new artist/filmmaker. The IAA team will stay with you.

Thank you…everyone.



What do ‘I’ want?

“All blueprints of what people should be like are at once denials of reality and attempts to create it anew. It is one of the peculiar characteristics of human wanting that it always involves being persuaded about what it is one should want. This persuasion, which takes many forms – from brainwashing to education, from seduction to conversation – is one way of describing the experience of growing up in any society.

The wanting without which human survival is impossible is symbolically organised; wanting is inextricable from what our societies tell us we should want. If our loves and hates, our likings and our curiosities, our passions and aversions ‘come under conceptual definition, manipulation and control’, then there is no natural state in which we can live, or to which we can return. Indeed, the whole notion of a natural state, or significant origin, is itself one of those culturally generated conceptual definitions.”

Whether in country of origin or in country of destination, one burning question seem to overlap – What is it that we really want? What do you really want your art or filmmaking to do?

Dear Fikret,

Since my mother has fallen down and broke her thigh bone while getting out of the car following the New Year’s Eve, I had to return to Turkey on the 4th of January. I had to return to Turkey because there wasn’t anyone else to take care of my mother. I’m in Ankara right now. That’s why I haven’t been able to write to you even though I promised. You know Turkey and how bad the hospitals are. If you have the money, you can access the best caretaker and the best service but if you don’t have the money, you can’t access any of it. In other words, when you aren’t governed by a social state, things just don’t work out right.

Since I went directly to Ankara from London for my mother, I didn’t have the chance to see Gul ilgaz this time. However, I had talked to her when I went to Istanbul following the Baku Biennale and you and the exhibition in Strasbourg were mentioned. As you know, Gul ilgaz is a very good artist and is presently looking for a gallery in Europe . He’s especially looking for a gallery in Germany and England with which he can make an agreement to work together. I hope he finds such a gallery.

The Baku Biennale is different from the biennales you see in other western countries. Frankly, since the concept of Contemporary Art hasn’t established fully in Azerbaijan yet, the Baku Biennale hasn’t made the desired impact.  There, the biennale was organized by the state as was everything else. That’s why it was highly bureaucratic and was insufficient because it was organized with a highly limited budget. Being there despite all these, encountering old acquaintances, meeting old and new friends from the art scene and seeing Azerbaijan ’s art scene was very beautiful and interesting. I exhibited the three photos I took at Artvin, Hopa. Bread and Ana from the Imagine Art After Project were also there. In short, we both had fun and at the same time participated in the biennale.

I would like to thank you very much for your New Year message. I’d also like to celebrate your new year with all my heart. I entered the New Year with unpleasant events but I hope things will be better from now on.

I apologize once again for replying later and send you my warmest regards.  


Russian Salad!

Happy New Year Everyone!

Throwing a handful of Russian salad over the net to you!

Taus Makhacheva

Let Us all end up face down in our own Russian salad tonight!

Happy new year/weaving/webs/net


When you feel everything is somehow connected and we are all joining a big net
life takes another meaning. This project is a big net that is full of significance also.
I love being part of this, and it is nice to read and get to know others process and thoughts.

I Wish you all a wonderful new year; truly great, full of adventures, joy, neverending curiosity for things to come, creativity, love and inner peace!

best wishes from Colombia


Happy New Year 2010 !

Best wishes for the coming new year !


Andro Semeiko

Transmitter_BASE2F, by Yu-Chen Wang and Andro Semeiko, 2009


Denizhan, I am glad that you are back. I had lost my hope. 

So, did you see Gül Ilgaz? We were in Strasbourg together. And I think she is now presenting her works in Berlin within the framework of the exhibition “Istanbul Next Wave”. It is great. I am very glad that you were OK about continuing imagine art after dialogues. So how was Baku and the Biennial? What can you say about the contemporary art scene and milieu of Azerbaijan? What are your impressions? I think this year is the forth Baku Biennial. Which works do you represent there?

Taus Makhacheva, who is another artist of imagine art after dialogues sent some photos from the opening in Baku. If you have, please you also send photos. I am curious.

I wish you and to all the imagine art after team and to all the artists in dialogues and to all the followers / readers of imagine art after dialogues a HAPPY NEW YEAR 2010!

I hope that 2010 will bring us a lot of good ideas to realize and a lot of good projects to be included in.


Dear Fikret,

I am very sorry for my late answer. As you know I am very busy like you. 8 of December I went to Istanbul and on that date some body hack my email system, change my password and send scam mail to all people who is in my address book  and request a money. I had a panic and that date I went to Azerbaijan for Baku Biennial.  After that I sort it out that problem with friends help.  After staying one week in Baku I went Istanbul and yesterday I return back to London.

When I was in Istanbul I talk with some artist about you and imagine art after project. They found very interesting and some of them know you like Gul ilgaz. Now I am in London and continue dialog with you. I like to talk to you on the phone or to see you in dinner table. Anyway maybe in the future we can make it. Where are you now? Are you in Batman or somewhere?

Best wishes


Some Remarks..

Hi Denizhan,

How are you? Hope everything is going OK. I think that you are getting ready for your show in London. Am I right? I had participated in a group show this year, in 2009 in London, Cafe Gallery Projects. The title of the show was “Make, Shift and Bend”. I had my video “Tinica” in the exhibition. Tinica shows a young man standing on a hill overlooking Batman. He prepares e a makeshift drum set by using old bins, plastics bottles. He is drumming, it is like a performance to nobody or if you want to the city that seems indifferent. When his performance is finished, he kicks the drum set. We watch the bins and bottles rolling down the slope and finally the boy throwing the drumsticks to the distant city. May be you can remember it from Istanbul Biennial.

And to everybody who follows the dialogues and is curious about Turkish contemporary art production… If you are now in Berlin, I recommend you to visit the group exhibition “Not Easy to Save the world in 90 Days” in Tanas. The show brings together young Turkish artists who deal with their own background and the circumstances of life in Turkey and in the diaspora. Which is also very related to the concept of imagine art after because the show represents three types of artists: artists who live in Turkey, artists who live abroad (Amsterdam or Berlin) and artists who live in Diyarbakır (and Batman). It is a very successful overview for those who want to learn more about works of Turkish artists and the context.

Photos_Who is the King of the Ring???

Hi Denizhan,

How are you? Where are you at the moment? These are the photos taken during the shooting of my new video “King of the ring”. Two boys come face to face on a boxing ring and exchange words instead of punches. It is a battle of words. Hope everybody will enjoy..

Fikret Atay 

 Fikret Atay 

Fikret Atay 

Fikret Atay 

Fikret Atay

Batman and…

Hi Denizhan again,

I am very sorry for my late reply. I was talking about my “living abroad” experience in Paris. It was a good experience for me because it provided me a new perspective, a kind of discharge if you want. However Batman is the place which keeps me inspired. I produce more here, projects come to my mind any minute. It is the source of my artistic creation if you want. For example in “Batman vs Batman”, one of my recent video works, (I filmed it in 2009) the city is the leading actor in a way. Maybe there are people who read the dialogues and don’t know about Batman. So I will make a brief introduction. Batman is a city within the borders of Turkey, near Northern Iraq with a predominantly Kurdish population. Unfortunately it has been known with a high suicide rate amongst women and unaccounted murders by unknown assailants. It is also an important oil producing area. Despite all of these sad and depressing sides it inspires me, it is true. Almost in every video that I have realized I portrayed short life stories from Batman. 

And since a long time I had been thinking of a project on Batman and in 2009 I made “Batman vs. Batman”. In 2008 the mayor of Batman city, Hüseyin Kalkan, tried to sue Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros, which owns the right to the superhero Batman character. He blame them for using the name of the city without informing them. Although internationally the case wasn’t taken seriously or derided, I turned the event into a superhero story, similar to Batman movies. And in my video I associated the mayor with the superhero because the mayor wanted to spend the money that he will have from lawsuit to resolve the problems of the city, like the Dark Knight who fights crime in Gotham City.

Hi Fikret

Hi Fikret,

Couldn’t write you for a while,  as I mentioned before I was in Canakkale to shoot a new video.

I’ve done some research regarding to the project and met some artist.  Briefly I’ll be shooting a video with a man who is carrying and waving a Turkish flag and people watching him.

You know it is all about the nationalism in Turkey  and it is always the main subject. I’ll be criticizing it on the video.

Apart of that getting ready for a show in London. The work is ready but I’ll also be responsible for the education program.

The program will focus on the Kurdish and Turkish refugee’s children.

How about yourself? Hope everything is fine.


Nice to hear from you.

Hi Denizhan,

I am glad that you are now back to the dialogues. I am also on my way back home to Turkey, Batman from Strasbourg. Everything went OK during the opening and the screening. So, as an artist I return home satisfied and ready to make new projects. I don’t know if you know but I also lived abroad, in Paris for four years. And then I returned. So I also experienced “life abroad” during a certain period. But as I said, it was a limited period. When did you move to UK? What was your story?

hope to hear from you soon,


Dear Fikret,

Sorsy I didn`t write to you quickly. As you know when we start to dialog I was in the Canakkale for my new film. I am saying film but this is small video. On the film one mad man running with Turkish flag and talking about Turkey and Turkish people. Around the man some people just looking. I faund mad man I tak to him he said yes but weather is not good for this film. Must be spring and summer.

Yesterday I meet some of the Immagine Art After people. I like them. We went to pub and talk abouth general project. Now I am going to Basement 43 gallery. There is opening of Ben Woodeson. I will write to you tomorrow.


Hi Denizhan,

I just finished the editing of my new video project “King of the ring”. It is a project inspired by hip-hop culture that has become a way to express identity for so many youngsters in the world. I hope I will be able to post some photos a few days later.

I am looking forward to hearing from you and learning about your research as well.



in Strasbourg

Dear Denizhan, I am sorry because of my late reply but I had also some problems. But it is the first day and I think things will get better and we will get used to talk online.
I am fine. Thank you. I hope the same thing for you. At the moment I am in Strasbourg for an opening and for a new project. I will have an exhibition in Wacken Exhibition Center in Strasbourg within the frame of St-art’09 Contemporary Art Fair between 25 and 30 November. And I also work on my new video project “King of the Ring”.
And what is your current research about?  Best wishes, fikret

in Canakkale

Dear Fikret,
This is Denizhan your dialog partner. I am trying to contact you but some technical problem on the system, that’s why I didn’t. Maybe you don’t know me, but I know you from 2. Busan Biennial in 2004. I saw your video. Boys playing in bank cash machine cabin. After this date I look at to you on the press. Also you gallery regularly sending me email about their activities,

Anyway, how are you? I hope you are ok. Now I am in Canakkale for my new films research. Where are you now? Are you in Istanbul or Batman?

Waiting your answer. Best wishes. Denizhan


Welcome to imagine art after! Fikret, Denizhan, where are you now? What are you up to?