Middle East & Africa

Fikret Atay
Rebels of the Dance

In the video Rebels of the Dance, two boys are filmed dancing to traditional Kurdish songs inside of the confined space of an ATM. Shy, proud and joyful, the two boys appear to be influenced by a third person – the artist and his camera. Their play of eyes creates an atmosphere reminding one of the close scrutiny and state control of the Kurdish population. While Atay films, the music grows and intensifies, and the ATM machine becomes a simple decor for the scene, losing its proper function. As if in a state of triumph, music and dance take on the role of a new language of power, juxtaposing local identity with an international dimension of the city and country. This simple performance gives meaning to the geographical and political situation of Batman, whose oil resources are rich, although its citizens rarely reap benefit from its natural wealth.
*This title is a variation of a televised transmission representing 90 folk dancers “Sultans of the Dance” which was a big success in Turkey.

It is said that the artist Fikret Atay secretly stole his parent's camera to film the city of Batman and its citizens in East Turkey. His first experiments later transformed themselves into his first videos such as Fast and Best (2002) and Rebels of the Dance (2002). The city of Batman is a mid-sized Turkish city situated on the border with Irak. Its geographical and political situation inevitably contextualizes the work of Atay and inside of this context is Atay's focus on the city's citizens, its communities and traditions, whether linguistic, family orientated, musical or religious. Camera in hand, Atay makes short videos of everyday life. Despite the fact that they are direct and spontaneous, the images conserve an ambiguity, at times mysterious from a outsider's point of view. In this regard, Atay translates reality while adhering to a larger grain of complexity.
Fikret Atay was born in Batman, Turkey in 1976. He lives and works in Batman, Turkey.