Istanbul Modern, Istanbul, Turkey, 2010

Commissioned by:
BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, and Treaty of Utrecht, Utrecht
The Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston
Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York
The Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach
The Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver

We all have our own versions of paradise and what it would be like to live eternally in such a place. For many the place is sunny and warm with lush greenery. For religious people it’s what one hopes to achieve in the afterlife. It is also possible to create a social contract with the promise of an ideological paradise. If you follow the rules you can attain this so-called paradise while still living. Today’s consumer culture makes it easy literally to buy into this notion as these social groups are quite often made up of wealthy individuals.

Southern California exudes the idea of "paradise on earth" with its year-round sunshine, the promise of sameness and superficiality. This narrative is not only an outside perception, but also one which many of the inhabitants perpetuate and market to the rest of the world. Yet, for people on the outside, we don’t really know what it’s like in the land of gated communities.

The subjects of Paradise by Kutluğ Ataman all live in this idyllic corner of the world. They discuss the idea of this locale as their personal paradise and how they each try to create the “good life.” With this project, Ataman continues to explore the ways in which one’s personal narrative reveals how we construct and define ourselves. What emerges from these stories is that these people work very hard to create a cultural brand, considered outside the norm. Although the individuals that make up this community might have different lifestyles they have the common goal of living a good and happy life.

The installation consists of a series of circles within circles. The outside circles are made up of flat-screen monitors, each displaying an individual subject. In the center of the circle there is only one monitor, also showing one person, but changing daily. Therefore, every time the core changes, the complete narrative also is affected, giving the sense that reality is ever-changing yet the same all at once.