Tijdschrift voor kunst en cultuur

Sofia Dupon on artist Baha Görkem Yalim

Sofia Dupon


Baha Görkem Yalim (1987) is a Turkish born artist, based in Amsterdam where he is currently graduating from the audiovisual department (VAV) at the Rietveld Academy. In this Portfolio we look at the video- work Pas de deux (2013).

This work is derived from First World War video material found in the archives of the EYE of veterans suffering from Shell Shock Syndrome. Although being probably victors of the battle, these veterans have become victims of war, having to pay with their mental well-being. Baha has choreographed their movements into a five-minute sequence that he performs himself. By that, he does not only step into the skin of the veterans, but also questions our experience of looking at traumatic events.

We see stills from the video: a confused person is making disturbed movements, all the while not crossing the borders of a small white-taped square. The video is in black and white, as if the colour has not only been sucked out of the actor, but out of his environment as well. Then there is the contrast of the reduced space with the ultra-ordinary houseplant in the left corner of the square. “The Pas de deux is a sequence in traditional ballet between two dancers,” Görkem explains. “One of the two leads the dance, the other performs sustained movements. I use the houseplant to contrast the stillness with the disturbance of the performer, and to contrast a balanced state with mental illness.”

The objects we encounter in daily life more often gain ‘human’ characteristics in Baha’s work. Via small interventions he tries to enable new interpretations of the objects, without letting go of their original purpose. Concrete practices or experiences always lead the way though, whether it is a memory of high school adolescence, the group dynamics of construction workers, or the documentation of war.

Lately we have been struck with the insanity of war repeatedly. Images of violence seem to shake us up, activate us and work on our conscience. In the case of Pas de deux they make us question the pictures we do not see, but which have led to this very situation. At the same time we as viewers get confused by the re-enactment: are we to be ashamed, or may we enjoy this suffering aesthetically, as we have already done for centuries with a suffering Christ for instance? [S]

Gepubliceerd in jrg. 23, nr. 2: Waanzin.