21 February 2009 – 26 April 2009
The Turkish artist Özlem Sulak (*1979, living in Bremen) animates terms of discourse like “migration” and “identity” by tracing her family’s history as well as the history of her surroundings, turning their abstract level into a very personal one. Sulak’s familial background affected by immigration, the experiences she made in western countries like Great Britain or Germany as well as dealing with the issue of stereotypes she consistently finds herself confronted with establish the keynote of her filmic work. What does home mean? Wherefrom do we originate? What shapes us? Where do we belong? These are existential questions Sulak is dealing with. She is doing this in a way that formally uses strong documentary media avoiding pathos – which is precisely how she manages to find an emotionally very touching language. For Granny she places both her grandmother and great-aunt onto a sofa and gets them to talk about their immigration from western orientated Sarajevo to Anatolia of the 1930s, being dominated by traditional values. Turkey is pulled to pieces by both women who seem to never have settled in their new home country, still remaining in nostalgia about the freedom of their childhood. But still the stories about forced marriage (“During 30 years your grandfather didn’t say once that he loved me.”) and about having to give up the freedom of attending school or even going to the cinema are told in a strangely amused tone which repeatedly happens to turn into laughter. In Vratnik 13 Sulak herself is trying to trace her grandmother’s and great-aunt’s past. In a present Sarajevo, grim, slushy and destroyed by years of war, she tries to find the house on Vratnik street number 13 in which they have partly passed their childhood. In doing so she is instructed by her grandmother who is guiding her via mobile through a reality that ceased to exist long ago. In Deutsches Auswandererhaus finally she accompanies four turkish women visiting the Deutsches Auswandererhaus (German Emigrant House) in Bremerhaven. Statements about the situation of Emigrants during the 19th century that is meant to be experienced in the museum merge with personal experiences of how it is to be a stranger in a foreign country.
In Bremen Özlem Sulak is going to embed the three films Granny (2005), Vratnik 13 (2007) and Deutsches Auswandererhaus (2008) in installations that take up and amplify the works’ particular atmosphere.
After having studied in Istanbul and Liverpool Sulak is currently studying at Hochschule für Künste in Bremen. She won the Villa Minimo scholarship of Kunstverein Hannover as well as the Bremer Videokunstförderpreis 2008. Aufenthaltserlebnis is Özlem Sulak’s first institutionell solo exhibition.