Deniz Sözen

AZIZIYE MOSQUE - ASTRA CINEMA

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The installation combines a video piece by Suzan Dennis (Deniz Soezen’s British alter ego) with an installation of a 140 hand-painted ceramic tiles and a tryptich consisting of photographs of Aziziye Mosque, former Apollo Cinema in London.

 

  • 140 hand-painted ceramic tiles; 15,3 x 15,3 cm each, dimensions variable

 

Suzan Dennis: “My visit of Aziziye mosque/Astra Cinema”

Video: Colour, DVD-Pal; Great Britain 2009; 4 min 42; loop

Voice: English and Turkish by Suzan Dennis

In “My visit of Azizye mosque” the video opens with a photograph of a building. The narrator tells us that she is visiting a mosque. It is thus implied that the image is of a mosque covered with ‘industrially fabricated tiles, which depict traditional Turkish tile design’ and that it is situated in Stoke Newington. Despite this certainty in the telling the visual evidence is of a photo of the Astra cinema showing a Bruce Lee film that signals a time other than the present (with no tiles to be seen) as do the clothes of the bystanders in the photo.

 

The protagonist then plays more with the viewer: a chance encounter is described that seems to serve no purpose. The bystanders in the image that we are still looking at, are mirrored by that chance encounter with passers-by in the garage opposite. However, whereas the bystanders are all wearing “Western” clothes, the passers-by we hear about are described as wearing black headscarves. In the collapse of time between the narrative and the visual, subjectivity is all. Initially authenticity is emphasized through the narrator’s disclosure of her father’s origin to the women in the car, those “wearing black headscarves”, itself a different signal to authenticity, telling them that she was interested in Islamic arts. This seeming innocent encounter, though, is undermined through an erotic dream that makes explicit the desire that charges through ethnic insiderism. The narrator dreams about the veiled woman and has an erotic dream.

Deniz aka Suzan Dennis, the narrator is split in her desire for her exotic other, who is more visibly other, more present in difference that she, from the narration, can be assumed to be and in the erotic encounter we are invited to revise our image of the narrator’s voice as itself erotic.

 

And so a merging of private and public: the secret desire and the public longing for wholeness that is never to be, a longing that is shot through diasporic art and writing for an impossible home. The narrative that fans out into multiple echoes and the different languages, Turkish and English, signal a turn away from the singular, certain subject that knows who they are and who knows where they are from. In the multiple languages and the mistranslations such easy notions of self and origin do not exist.

Excerpt from a text by Dr. Rachel Garfield, ©2010

EXHIBITED: be longing, solo exhibition feat. Suzan Dennis, Visual Arts Platform, Austrian Cultural Forum, London,  2010

                      Exhibition Review by Dr. Rachel Garfield Goldsmiths College London, 2009