Venice Biennale The Turkish Pavilion

Ali Kazma's multi-channel video work Resistance looks at how we try to change and control our bodies
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Ali Kazma filming Resistance (2013)
Ali Kazma filming Resistance (2013)

There's nothing surprising about artist Ali Kazma's choice of medium. The 42-year-old Turkish national, who will represent his country at its pavilion in this year's Venice Bienanle, is known for his near documentary-like art films, which focus on human labours.

His 2005 series, Today, documented the tiny, forgettable acts of everyday production and repair that took place within an Istanbul neighbourhood; his series Obstructions, also from that year, looked at the violence and order of industrial production in a series of videos shot in factories producing goods such as jeans and kitchen items.

 

Still from Ali Kazma's Resistance (2013)
Still from Ali Kazma's Resistance (2013)

However, what's intruging is that, for the Venice Biennale, he's turned his attention away from human goods and towards the human body. Entitled Resistance, these films, to be shown on a number of screens in the Turkish pavilion, will look at the way we try to manipulate and control our bodies, “ to render it perfect, as well as the processes that transform the body into the conveyor of new symbols and meanings.”

 

Still from Ali Kazma's Resistance (2013)
Still from Ali Kazma's Resistance (2013)

Kazma spent around a year filming the places and practices of bodily manipulation, visiting a London tattoo parlour, a French film set, a German robotics lab and a Swiss medical research institute, as well as Turkish prisons, schools and hospitals. The films feature body builders, actors and patients in their investigation of bodily manipulation. There's no text or commentary, of course; yet in an age of socially acceptable neck tattoos, recreational steroid abuse, and mass-market cosmetic surgery, Kazma's works certainly sound pertinent. We'll have to wait until the Biennale opens next month to view them in full, though.

 

Until then, please enjoy this footage (above), shot by Kazma in the Alessi factory. For more on body art, please take a look at The Artists' Body; for more on art in Istanbul, pre-order our forthcoming Art Cities of The Future, which focusses on the Turkish megacity; and for more on the creative possibilities of video and other new media, consider our Art and Electronic Media book.



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