Ferhat Özgür

Ferhat was born in 1965 in Ankara. Lives and works in Istanbul.

The video titled “Life is Beatiful” focuses on a group of wasted young
men in Ankara’s Sakarya Street (a.k.a. Sakarya Beer Park) and their
extravagance in what has become a fundamental icon-performance
of nationalism: the military farewell. Sakarya Street is not only a
performance platform that has become an open harbour of political
protest where fractions between the rich and the poor, the ignorent
and the well educated melt away but also a forum where different
cultural groups meet and carouse. In December 2009, when this video
was made, Turkish State Liquor and Tobacco Monopoly workers were
starting a protest against the 4C Act by the government that would
last three months and grow in number and power with protesters
coming from all around the country. We do not know if these ecstatic
young men at the hight of their nationalistic feelings crying out "our
son is the best soldier" were in Sakarya Street to give support to the
4C Act protestors. I was there to support the protestors when I noticed
these young men shouting, singing songs in Turkish and Kurdish,
and dancing. Improvising, I plunged in the middle of them with my
camera and asked them to go even wilder and carry their extravagance
to its extreme. Upon my request they started to hustle each other
in provocation with would-be squabbles, cussing and jokes losing
themselves. With their heightened nationalistic feelings attacking
everything Kurdish in the one hand, on the other they did not realize
that they were wandering in an altered world accompanied with
Kurdish folk songs.
The lower end of the street was a crucible of all ethnicities brought
together with the 4C Act protests. In the upper end, these young men
dancing and performing stunts were also presenting an instance of
coming together, irrelevant of weather they knew it or not. When I
joined them I felt like saying “Life is Beautiful”.
(Ferhat Ozgur, January 2010)

The double screened video installation ‘Resurrection’ visualises comparative representation
of the relationship between body and architecture. The work, also correlates with the book
of ‘Flesh and Stone’, which tells the story of urban life through bodily experience, written by
Richard Sennet. Whilst the left scene of the video consists of the documentary footages in
slow motion, taken from different archives demonstrating only the buildings in the process of
demolition and perishing, the right scene depicts the ritual of washing and purification a dead
body prior to burial ceremony in accordance with the Islamic belief/tradition. Left screen implies
a different kind of resurrection within the framework of development and progress, annihilation
and extermination in an architectural context, whilst the dead body being washed in the second
screen is blending in the soil through a similar process. Demolishing building is supposed to
resurrect, penetrating the soil by way of exchanging its own place with the new ones to come, as
the dead body identified with the soil, will experience the resurrection process in different forms.
The accompaniment Baroque and dramatic aria of Bach, the ‘Magnificat’, which sounds like a
cathedral to be built, strengthens the metaphorical relationship between body and stone.