Yar bana bir eğlence. Notes on Parrhesia
a single screen film by Eleni Kamma
duration: 37 min 24 sec (2015)
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 language, 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.
Written, directed and produced by Eleni Kamma
In co-production with Jubilee and Netwerk center 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
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)
Props design and realization
Ron Bernstein, Heimo Lab, Van Eyck, Maastricht
Stage lighting design
Paul van Laak
Margriet Thissen, Charles Nypels Lab, Van Eyck, Maastricht
Prints on paper
QS Graphics, Maastricht
Inneke Van Waeyenberghe
Boris van Hoof, Andreas Haralambous, Ilgin Deniz, Akseloğlu & Ferhat Tokmak, Jessica van Rüschen
Sound design and mix
Post production supervision
Inneke Van Waeyenberghe
Script montage and editing
Tina van Baren
Maaike Beuten, Garage 64
Colorgrading and mastering
Paul Millot, Cobalt Films
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
Gezi Park still images
With the support of
The Mondrian Fund, NiMAC (Nicosia Municipal Arts Center), PiST/// Istanbul, SoundImageCulture (SIC), the Theater aan het Vrijthof, Maastricht and VAF (Flanders Audiovisual Fund) and Jubilee