ISMAIL NECMI: Still from Unmade Films

1 Feb 2011 – 3 Mar 2011

berlin art projects Showroom

Berlin, Germany


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Exhibition on the occasion of the Berlinale 2011, 61. Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin


The images of Ismail Necmi weave, through a game of transformation, desire and fantasy, a unique photographic tapestry, somewhare between sensation and hallucination. With obvious references to silent cinema and the evocative landscape photography of Ansel Adams, the oeuvre of this accomplished Turkish artist puts forth extreme and often surrealist aspects of certain subjects, capturing the truth of the heroes and eliciting their secrets. In his black and white frames lurk the colors of intensity, sensuality, and eccentricity. His landscapes are breathtaking. His nudes awaken our instincts. The expressions on people's faces tell stories which were never captured on celluloid, yet that is precisely what they imply. The artist's duality, as a photographer and filmmaker, defines his work. He pays attention to detail, he explores the borders between the real and the imaginary, he directs with a single click — the moment the shutter closes — what existed before and what will come after. (Dimitri Eipides, Thessaloniki International Film Festival Director) Although perhaps better known internationally as a filmmaker, Ismail Necmi has been one of the most influential and distinctive forces in underground Turkish photography since the 1990s. In a national tradition long dominated by photojournalistic realism, his edgy and often surreal work takes the most colloquial forms of still images and explores the layers of dream, fantasy and artifice that are really at play in the everyday in contemporary Turkey. Necmi has worked over prolonged periods of time with real individuals in Istanbul, offering people from diverse walks of life an aesthetic space in which they can visually express the aspirations and desires that animate their lives but which they can't easily articulate in words — whether to transform into the person they want to be, or to show inner-selves they normally hide from everyone, or to live out their ultimate sexual fantasy. Moreover, given Necmi's distinctive obsession with the blurred margins between life, art and fantasy, this exhibition enables viewers to explore the deep continuities between the critically acclaimed photojournalism of post-WWII Turkey and the resistant underground photography that has developed in its wake, as it struggles to capture more complex dimensions of ‘the real' in Turkey, drawing on the visual traditions both of Europe and the Middle East. The concept for the exhibition draws on a frequent observation by commentators on Necmi's work — his photographs seem so often like freeze frames from films they've never seen; it is as though he is shooting films without the images moving. Stills from Unmade Films imagines the frozen black and whites of Necmi's photographic oeuvre as moments from movies he was never able to make. The exhibition enables viewers to experience viscerally the pulse of creative life in Istanbul, chance encounters between strangers from different cultures and a constant beat of incipient possibility.

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