Küba, 2004

Installation view: Küba: Journey Against the Current, MS Negrelli | Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna, Austria, 2006
Photo: Michael Strasser | © Bildrecht, Vienna, 2020 | TBA21

40-channel video installation on monitors (color, sound), TV stands, armchairs
Videos with varying durations (from 39 min 50 sec to 65 min 36 sec)
Overall dimensions variable
Commissioned by Artangel, London; Co-produced by 54th Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburg; Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna; Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York; Theater der Welt, Stuttgart; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
Donated to Reina Sofia by Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary Collection

Küba is a community of men, women, and children who live in one of the most notorious ghettos in Istanbul, a shantytown slum that started as a hideout for left-wing militants and other outsiders, refugees from the "East" in the 1960s. Since then it has developed into a cohesive society, a security zone presenting an impenetrable solidarity to the outside world and providing protection against violent assaults and political terror. Today, Küba consists of several hundred temporary refuges. These makeshift houses, built from scrap metal and soil, stand in the shadow of a twenty-first-century megalopolis. It is a marginalized place that has learned to make do.

Kutlug Ataman spent over two years getting to know Küba’s inhabitants and filming them talk, narrating the stories of their lives in an unedited and unmediated stream of words. The interviewees leave a lasting impression with their arresting stories of sometimes tragic, sometimes bitter events. With Küba Ataman seeks to fathom the boundaries— both geographic and mental—of an urban area.
The unsettling stories of Küba are presented on old television sets as part of a forty-monitor installation. In front of each TV is a chair, allowing only one viewer per set. Seen individually, from voice to voice, their soliloquies present a detailed mosaic of humaneness: terror, tragedy, love, obsession, resistance, and survival. Seen together, the voices of Küba reveal a deeply moving communal portrait of the hidden society that they are proud to call home.
Kutluğ Ataman (born 1961) is a Turkish contemporary artist and filmmaker, who produces both photography and video art. He won the Carnegie Prize for his works "Kuba" in 2004.. In the same year he was nominated for Turner Prize for his work "twelve". Kutlug Ataman was the jury for Istanbul Film Festival. His movies won many awards.

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