Testimony

2006


İstanbul Biennial, İstanbul, Turkey, 2007

“The subject of this home-video style footage is my, and my father's, nanny.  She was an Armenian infant when she was brought into the family, and from that time on her true identity and past were kept secret by her and others: her real identity was a taboo.  It is a small and seemingly everyday portrait but in fact what I attempted to deal with is Turkey's own amnesia of its past and Turkey's very selective memory.  The piece is called Testimony. It has this title not because it deals with an Armenian subject who gives a straightforward and categorical testimony about the past events, but because it is in itself a testimony, showing as it does a subject who is now suffering from total amnesia and oubli. In reality this is the effect of old age, but it could also be the result of social oppression and self-imposed silence.  Her inability to talk about the past is the true testimony, not only her own but also of the greater Turkish society.  Her amnesia is to me both evidence of, but also a curtain on, history and memory.  It is in fact not about the past but about the present.  It is not about her, but about the society that left its imprint on her narrative (or non-narrative).  To me the piece is very objective (home video, simple questions, straightforward use of camera and editing) and, at the same time, very subjective (using a subject as a comment other than as it is really intended to be, hence making a comment).  This dualism will hopefully open up discussion for more possibilities about the nature of art in general, but also specifically about memory and history and where we go from here, and how. Questions to which Testimony does not provide any answers."