Burcu Bilgiç بورجو بيلجيتش
18 – 30 October, 2010
I want to be an astronaut, an artist, a marine biologist, the president. I want to travel around to see new places, meet interesting people and experience different cultures. Those might have been some of the answers Turkish artist Burcu Bilgiç expected when she asked a group of residents of Ard El Lewa about their dreams. But the responses she got were very different.
In a poem titled “Daydreaming in Ard El Lewa” Bilgiç expresses her distress with the local living conditions and the desire to escape the harsh reality through daydreaming. This idea of daydreamers taking refuge in different worlds of their own construction has long interested the artist. She began asking people in Ard El Lewa about their aspirations and dreams for a video piece she produced by the end of her residency called “Daydreamers,” which she exhibited at Artellewa.
Accompanied by a local interpreter, the artist set up interviews with children, youth and elderly residents from Ard El Lewa, expecting to hear about their daydreams. But the responses were disappointing. Some people said they simply had no future dreams, while other aspirations were confined to marriage and starting a family. These answers could be partially attributed to the language barrier, which prevented Bilgiç from directly conversing with interviewees and persuading them to talk more openly. Other factors might be related to different cultural values and local conditions. Family life, for instance, is highly valued in Egyptian culture.
“Few interviews were fruitful. People were very resistant to talking about their aspirations and even prevented me from filming around the neighborhood. The only time I was able to film was at dawn. Naturally, everything was closed and the streets were totally empty,” explained Bilgiç.
Faced with these challenges, Bilgiç redesigned her project from one that presents a community’s dreams as a window into its people’s lives to one about her personal experience in Ard El Lewa.
The looped “Daydreamers” video installation comprised two main segments. In the first part, Bilgiç presented excerpts from her interviews with residents. Their voices, however, are purposefully muffled to reflect the difficulty the artist had communicating with Arabic speakers.
The second segment displays run-down stores and workshops as well as locked gates to residential buildings around the neighborhood. The artist contrasts the empty streets she filmed at dawn with a sound piece she developed from the honks of cars and tok-toks—narrow motorized vehicles common in informal settlements in Egypt–as well as the shouting of street vendors often heard in Ard El Lewa.
Burcu Bilgiç / Turkey
Burcu Bilgiç was born in Istanbul, Turkey. She has a major degree in philosphy from Istanbul. She also earned a cinema degree from Brussels, Belgium. She mainly works as a director on short movies and as a director’s assistant although she enjoys doing visual art works. She is focused on the ways of being logically or naturally followed from interaction between body and mind. She lives and works in Brussels.