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BAP// Istanbul prestens Ismail Necmi: Stills from unmade films

Filmmaker and photographer, images between reality and phantasy, presented in Istanbul.



TARIK ERSIN YOLERI is delighted to invite you to the opening of the solo exhibition by Ismail Necmi on February 12th, at 4 – 9 pm.

Although perhaps better known internationally as a filmmaker, Ismail Necmi has been one of the most influential and distinctive forces in underground Turkish photography since the 1990s. In a national tradition long dominated by photojournalistic realism, his edgy and often surreal work takes the most colloquial forms of still images and explores the layers of dream, fantasy and artifice that are really at play in the everyday in contemporary Turkey. Necmi has worked over prolonged periods of time with real individuals in Istanbul, offering people from diverse walks of life an aesthetic space in which they can visually express the aspirations and desires that animate their lives but which they can’t easily articulate in words – whether to transform into the person they want to be, or to show inner-selves they normally hide from everyone, or to live out their ultimate sexual fantasy.

Moreover, given Necmi’s distinctive obsession with the blurred margins between life, art and fantasy, this exhibition enables viewers to explore the deep continuities between the critically acclaimed photojournalism of post-WWII Turkey and the resistant underground photography that has developed in its wake, as it struggles to capture more complex dimensions of ‘the real’ in Turkey, drawing on the visual traditions both of Europe and the Middle East.

"The concept for the exhibition draws on a frequent observation by commentators on Necmi’s work – his photographs seem so often like freeze frames from films they’ve never seen; it is as though he is shooting films without the images moving. A collaboration with Istanbul-based British-Australian writer Samuel Williams, known mostly for his work in literary non-fiction, Stills from Unmade Films imagines the frozen black and whites of Necmi’s photographic oeuvre as moments from movies he was never able to make. For each image, Williams has crafted a fragment of a screenplay; a cinematic "what if ", which navigates in words a parallel of the photo’s own visual conflation of fact and fiction. An encounter be- tween two artists on the banks of the Bosphorus, both from different national backgrounds, both working in different media, Stills from Unmade Films enables viewers to experience viscerally the pulse of creative life in Istanbul, chance encounters between strangers from different cultures and a constant beat of incipient possibility."

"The images of Ismail Necmi weave, through a game of transformation, desire and fantasy, a unique photographic tapestry, somewhare between sensation and hallucination. With obvious references to silent cinema and the evocative landscape photography of Ansel Adams, the oeuvre of this accomplished Turkish artist puts forth extreme and often surrealist aspects of certain subjects, capturing the truth of the heroes and eliciting their secrets. In his black and white frames lurk the colors of intensity, sensuality, and eccentricity. His landscapes are breathtaking. His nudes awaken our instincts. The expressions on people’s faces tell stories which were never captured on celluloid, yet that is precisely what they imply. The artist’s duality, as a photographer and filmmaker, defines his work. He pays attention to detail, he explores the borders between the real and the imaginary, he directs with a single click – the moment the shutter closes – what existed before and what will come after."

ISMAIL NECMI | Born in Turkey, Ismail Necmi works as an independent filmmaker, photographer and visual artist. After graduating in Law from Istanbul University, he collaborated on a number of movies, shorts and documentaries. As an independent photographer, his most notable projects have been: Transformation (2001), a solo black and white photography exhibition in Istanbul, and The image is YOU!, a black and white interactive photography project launched in 2002. His début real-life feature film, Should I Really Do It?, which he produced, wrote, directed, shot and edited, was shown at the 34th Toronto IFF 2009 as an official selection in the Discovery program, and in many other international film festivals – including Montreal, Reykjavik, São Paulo, Haifa, Rome, Hamburg, Bangkok, Cairo, Costa Rica, Göteborg, Mumbai and Thessaloniki. The movie received the Daniel Langlois Innovation Award at the International Competition of the 38th Montreal International Festival du Nouveau Cinéma 2009; Most Promising New Director Award and Most Promising New Screenwriter Award at the 20th Ankara International Film Festival 2009; and Audience Choice Award at the International Competition of the inaugural Rome Gender DocuFilm Festival 2010. The movie was also shown at Istanbul Modern, Istanbul’s Museum of Modern Art, as the opening movie of an interdisciplinary conference on fetishism. In addition to his creative work, Necmi has also taught at a number of universities, including the departments of Visual Com- munication Design and Photography at Istanbul Bilgi University. He is currently an instructor in the Department of Radio, Television and Cinema at Istanbul’s Kadir Has University.



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