Mesopotamian Dramaturgies

Mesopotamian Dramaturgies by Kutluğ Ataman
An exhibition for Brighton Festival 2011, UK
7 May – 29 May 2011

The I organisation I directed from 2010-2014, Lighthouse was delighted to be part of Brighton Festival 2011 guest directed by Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. We partnered with the festival on the presentation of two major exhibitions by contemporary artists, Kutluğ Ataman (Turkey) and Lynette Wallworth (Australia).

Animating the atmospheric disused space of the Old Municipal Market in Brighton, Kutluğ’s site-specific exhibition brought together two works which used the theme of water to meditate on political change. The centrepiece was the world premiere of Mayhem. This new multi-screen film installation, co-commissioned by Brighton Festival, used water is to subtly symbolise the transformational energy of revolution. It was presented with Su, a video installation shown in the UK for the first time.

The festival celebrated themes of freedom of expression, liberty, and the power of the individual voice in society, inspired by its guest curator, Aung San Suu Kyi. Mayhem by Kutluğ Ataman strongly resonated with these themes, at a time where revolutionary change was sweeping through Kutluğ’s own region. Kutluğ passionately believes in the need for democracy and freedom of expression in his native Turkey, and in the wider region.

In Mayhem, Kutluğ transported us to another Mesopotamia – “la Mesopotamia” in Argentina, itself located between the Paraná and Uruguay rivers. Here, in what Ataman describes as an “alternative promised land”, we were confronted by the spectacular and chaotic energy of the Iguazu Falls. In what he referred to as a direct response to the uprisings taking place in his own region, Kutluğ cast water as both a cleansing and destructive force. Just as water shapes and transforms nature, the Arab Spring is sweeping aside old structures and allowing new ones to evolve.

Showing alongside Mayhem was Su. This work takes its name from the Turkish word for water. It was filmed over a year, and illustrates the different moods of the Bosphorus strait, the narrow strip of water that separates Europe from Asia.

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