Twelve

2004


Turner Prize, Tate Britain, London, UK, 2004

Twelve has as its subjects six adults living in today’s Southeastern Turkey. They belong to the Alevite Arab community, which strongly believes in reincarnation. Their belief is that a single life is not sufficient for a soul to grow, hence a soul has to come back to life repeatedly. When someone dies, his or her soul will pass to a newborn in a few years. Death never occurs. Eventually, some children grow to claim that they are indeed the grandmothers, husbands and sisters of some of the bereaved adults left behind. The adults accept their relatives, now in the bodies of children, back into their homes with tears of joy...

Twelveconsists of six video projections to be shown in a dark space on six transparent vertical screens hanging from the ceiling and floating 30 centimeters above the ground. Each video is projected as an endless loop.

What fascinates me in this project is the opportunity to deal at once with a very sensitive issue that is close to us all, the loss of our loved ones, and present this reality by presenting something extremely subjective, namely the recounting of a reincarnated life - a narrative. In other words, the installation will be presenting represented realities that are inherently about their own refabrication. It is in a way like documenting a performance, but in this case the performance is claimed to be true life and not narrative.

This attitude would sum up the basis of all my work so far. I have chosen larger than life subjects who recount their lives in mythological and operatic dimensions in order to be able to point out that reality is always subjective and many-sided. Working with these "children”, now all adults in my installation, attracts me because of the contrast between the narrative qualities of their claims and the fact that I am merely presenting them as they are.

Moreover, these narratives reflect a fascinating activity on the part of the subjects, namely the constant refabrication of identity in daily life. By flexing the boundaries of their perceived identity and what their personal histories are, these subjects confirm that identity is man-made and artificial. Their lives become narratives not only because they are merely recounted as stories, but they also make us realize that all narratives are constructed, thus all narratives hence all lives are, in the end, created as art by the subject.