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Didem Pekün

Araf, 2018, Didem Pekün. Luleåbiennalen 2018.

Didem Pekün (b. 1978) is an artist based in Istanbul.

Araf is an essayistic road movie and diary of a ghostly character, Nayia, who travels between Srebrenica, Sarajevo, and Mostar in Bosnia. She has been in exile since the war, returning for the 22nd memorial of the Srebrenica genocide. The event is commemorated by a long procession through the mountains. Relatives, some of whom have still not been able to identify the bodies of their family members, walk together through the lush natural landscape. A particular blue butterfly is said to mark the locations of the mass graves, which can otherwise be hard to find, hidden as they are in the greenery. The river is described as the city’s silent witness, harbouring the memories of the war.

Nayia’s diary entries are interwoven with the myth of Daedalus and Icarus, the latter of whom crashes to his death after having flown too close to the sun in the primordial act of hubris. But Nayia also attempts to think of Icarus otherwise, to see a if a different future is possible for us, devoid of individual ambitions. Icarus is also the title awarded to the winner of a bridge diving competition in the narrator’s hometown. In quiet scenes, the diver is filmed on the bridge preparing for the fall. As these narratives overlap, a temporal shift occurs. In the Koran, Araf is the name of the place between heaven and hell, but in the film its significance is irrespective of religion; a limbo between movement and stasis, a state of being exiled, it is “permanent temporariness,” as stated in the voice over. Araf thus traces these paradoxes through Nayia’s displacement and her return to her home country post-war – that of a constant terror and a standstill, and the friction between displacement and permanence.

Didem Pekün (b. 1978) is an artist based in Istanbul.


Araf, 2018


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