Keeping Time

If A Voyager!, 2020

If A Voyager! (Eğer bir yolcu!), 2019, 4 mins 50 secs, colour and sound

In my second work in the exhibition, If A Voyager!, a short film project begun by looking back at the videos in my own archive. For this video project, I unearthed a footage of a journey from Baku to Tehran that took place more than a decade ago in 2009. I was there with a group of artists working on a project named Reciprocal visit. We went a road trip from Georgia to Armenia. In order to continue to Azerbaijan, we had to turn back to Tbilisi and then take a train from Tbilisi to Baku. From Baku to Teheran, we took a bus.

I shot the video on the bus from Baku to Tehran, of a boy, sitting in the seat behind, not older 10 years, that plays with a toy gun. When I saw him playing with the gun, the scene reminded of Turkish popular cinema from 1960s to 1980s and especially films that were made to educate people in order to be modern, highlighting the cultural diversity and differences between cities and rural regions, between modern and traditional life. Some films tell the stories of people living in villages, being critical of traditions such as blood feuds or honor killings. In such films, men hide their guns, covering them with a piece of cloth. They need to protect three things in order to be proper and honorable man; horse, wife and gun. The playing of the boy with the gun in my footage is a representation of that cultural expression of masculinity. How does a man use the gun? And what kind of object is a gun for a man? In Turkey the gun is really important part of a man’s life, asserting his power. This expression of masculinity, the violent militarism, has also informed the construction of national identity.