Yar bana bir eğlence. Notes on Parrhesia
A film by Eleni Kamma
In her first cinematographic film, artist Eleni Kamma revisits the tradition of the Karagöz Theatre and its role in the creation of a political voice.
Although Karagöz is a local character symbolizing the “little man” within the limits of the Ottoman Empire, he belongs to a larger puppet theatre family. He speaks of what the people want to hear and what the people want to say.
Until 1870, despite the “absolute monarchy and a totalitarian regime”, Karagöz “defied the censorship, enjoying an unlimited freedom”. Through the use of empty phrases, the illogical, the surrealistic, extreme obscenity and repetition, Karagöz theatre was often used as a political weapon to criticise local political and social abuse.
By 1923, this multi-voiced empire gave way to a Turkish-speaking republic within which the caricatures of ethnic characters no longer made sense. With the rise of new media, the popularity of Karagöz and Orta Oyunu declined even further.
Yar bana bir eğlence. Notes on Parrhesia reflects upon the term “parrhesia”, which implies not only freedom of speech, but also the obligation to speak the truth for the common good, even at personal risk, by questioning how the notion of entertainment relates to personal expression and public participation.
This is where the artist links to the Gezi Park protests in 2013, in which humor and creativity were key elements in mocking the political regimes. Filmic fragments from National Cypriot television archive alternate with the voices of Cypriot, Greek and Turkish Karagoz masters discussing the language, the history, the tools, and the political role of the medium.
The film is a visual essay in which pressing contemporary political matters intertwine with history and abstraction, and in which meticulousness of research meets with poetics of associations. How to move forward? Can we learn something from the old masters? At times the gaze is directed back to the viewer. To speak your mind, you must first overcome fear by taking a deep breath.
Single channel, HD Video, 37' 24", sound & colour, 2015
Written, directed and produced by Eleni Kamma
In co-production with Jubilee and Netwerk centre for contemporary Art Aalst
With the voices of:
Ilgın Deniz Akseloğlu
Christodoulos Antoniou Pafios
Gani Ömür Çekem
Jaime Vicente Liopis Segarra
Master craftsmen and shadow puppeteers in action:
Choreography advisor: Michiel Reynaert
Camera: Boris Van Hoof
Specific footage credits:
Andreas Haralambous (Panel discussion, NIMAC, Cyprus)
Ilgin Deniz Akseloğlu & Ferhat Tokmak (Interviews with Gezi protesters, Istanbul)
Jessica Van Rüschen (First assistant, grip, dolly operator, Maastricht)
Gezi Park still images: Eleni Kamma
Props design and realization:
Ron Bernstein, Heimo Lab, Van Eyck, Maastricht
Stage lighting design: Paul van Laak
Editing: Inneke Van Waeyenberghe
Boris van Hoof, Andreas Haralambous, Ilgin Deniz, Akseloğlu & Ferhat Tokmak,
Jessica van Rüschen
Sound design and mix: Laszlo Umbreit
Script montage and editing: Tina van Baren
Colourgrading and mastering: Paul Millot, Cobalt Films
Post production supervision: Inneke Van Waeyenberghe
Graphic design: Maaike Beuten, Garage 64
Margriet Thissen, Charles Nypels Lab, Van Eyck, Maastricht
Prints on paper: QS Graphics, Maastricht
Istanbul Military Museum; NIMAC Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre; Karagöz Museum, Bursa; Gezi Park, Istanbul; Cihangir Park, Istanbul; Theater aan het Vrijthof, Maastricht; Halkalı Kultur Merkezi, Küçükçekmece, Istanbul; Zappeion Greek School, Istanbul; Avcilar Cultural Center, Istanbul; Emin Şenyer’s studio, Avcilar Istanbul
With the support of:
The Mondrian Fund, NiMAC (Nicosia Municipal Arts Center), PiST/// Istanbul, SoundImageCulture (SIC), the Theater aan het Vrijthof, Maastricht, VAF (Flanders Audiovisual Fund), and Jubilee