Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Translating Girlhood in Mustang (2015): Locations of Style, Political Context and Audience Reception

Image result for mustang 2015 filmAs part of the conference "Female Agency and Subjectivity in Film and Television", which took place at Istanbul Bilgi University (April 11-13, 2018),  Cüneyt Çakırlar presented his paper in the panel "Translating Girlhood in Mustang (2015)" with Özlem Güçlü (MMGSU) and Elif Akçalı (Kadir Has University). 

Focusing on the Turkey-born French director Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s debut film Mustang (2015), the panel explored diverse modes of critical analysis to locate the film’s national and transnational framings of gender politics. Mustang tells the story of five orphaned sisters living with their grandmother and uncle in a remote Turkish village. Focusing on these five characters’ rapport with the conservative and segregated gender order in which these girls are “trained for” and forced into arranged marriages, this unconventional coming-of-age story capitalises upon solidarity, agency and resistance rather than a defeatist drama of spectacular victimhood. However, the film has received differing reviews: while the international reviews were celebrating it as a feminist text of rebellion and female empowerment, the local (i.e. Turkey-based) reviews were more sceptical of the film’s engagement with the national political context. The panel questioned the functions of film style, the political context of cinema, and audience reception in locating Mustang’s ideological operations in terms of national politics, (trans)national feminism, and the theoretical frameworks of national/transnational cinemas. Özlem Güçlü argued that Mustang’s formulation of female agency and subjectivity can be considered as exemplary of new female narratives in the contemporary cinema of Turkey. Cüneyt Çakırlar focused on the film’s formal/stylistic choices and the extent to which these choices reify a transnational feminist accent while undermining the local intricacies of gender politics. Finally, Elif Akçalı discussed the differences in the film’s reception by critically exploring local and international reviews of the film.        

Friday, 11 January 2019

Soufiane Ababri's solo show at The PILL, Istanbul

Following his solo show, Here is a Strange and Bitter Crop, which was on display at the Space in London last year, the French-Moroccan artist Soufiane Ababri has recently launched an exhibition of his recent work at the gallery The PILL (Istanbul & Paris) titled Memories of a Solitary Cruise (10 January - 23 February 2019). Through his use of the spectacular scene of traditional Turkish wrestling, Ababri's project intervenes into the racialised and sexualised modes of Orientalism. Exploring male friendship and homoeroticism in Arab and Middle Eastern cultures through the intersections of race, gender and sexuality, Ababri's art of appropriation creates a productive friction by depicting Arab or "Oriental" with the aesthetic tools of Western canons/masters of homoerotic arts.

The gallery commissioned Cüneyt Çakırlar to author a piece that introduces Ababri's art practice to the Istanbul audience. The English version of Çakırlar's piece can be accessed from this link. The Turkish translation has recently been published in Manifold.