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Neriman Polat

Angelika Stepken

Uncertain Sıgns- True Stories
Badischer Kunstverein Karlsruhe, 2002

Neriman Polat

Neriman Polat
Sisters, 1998, Photograph 32x576 cm.

You are only a tourist in certain places and at certain times. Tourists take pictures or make videos to remind them of their nice holidays or to be able to bring foreign places into their home.Neriman Polat took pictures of "Tourists" (2001) sightseeing in a city, filming sights, lying on the beach, refreshing themselves in small lakes.She observes people and groups who watch themselves or- quite the reverse- are feeling totaly unobserved. From a photographical distance she returns – seemingly devoid of emotion and yet assuming the offensive in the act of the imagining- the one-sidedness of the tourist’s view. Her gaze, respectively that of the camera, remains anonymous. She puts herself in an alien position , in order to record aliens in an alien place. Polat’s image of tourists is not really a sociological or social-political one. Rather, it is characterised by the distance between the camera and the object, which repeats and reflects the one dividing the tourists and their actual enviroment. On the pictures, there are people trying to figure out where they are right now, respectively comparing this picture with the one they had perhaps made before that journeyed to the objects of their desire.Neriman Polat’s photos of tourists work with distance as well as with the discrepancy between what is visible and images remainning hidden, untraceable, preconceived or images of imagination never articulated, orientations and projections.

Amvilent polarisations of exterior and interior images, of bounds and unsteadiness loss and surrender, clear vision and obscuration have served as a fundamental motive for Neriman Polat’s work with photography and video for a number of years.In 2001, she produced an installation with monitors, consisting of three parts. On all three screens, water flowing by night can be seen. The films are identical. On each monitor, three different texts are imposed- like producer’s directions- on the pictures: "This Movement- This Darkness- This Light", suggesting that what can be seen must be something specific. A specific kind of water? A specific night? A specific story? How does what we percieve obtain such an identity? And what voice or what authority explains identities? And what effect- contrariwise- is produced by a look encountering the uncertain?

In 1998, Neriman Polat occupied herself with the problems concerning the designation of identity, respectively the loss of identity, in two works: She took pictures of pairs of sisters and displayed their cropped, frontal portraits in a long series of photos. The pictures show relational ties as well as embodiments of separate identities and life-stories. How do you become what you are, what active forces have an effect on it, who becomes active in what way? Questions Neriman Polat never answers but often expresses in floating or dark scenarious. In the video "Quallen" ("Jellyfish"), these transparent creatures are observed moving elegantly in the clear blue water. A voice accompannies the images and describes, in the we-form, memories of a past life of those animalistic "protagonist" in an interdicted exhibitionism.

In the two-part video work " A Room- A Grave" (2000), a monitor shows the artist in her room, sitting on her bed, not really doing anything at all. Time passes, the television is on. On another screen , we follow the camera on a nightly stroll over a graveyard. The place for the dead here, the space for the living there? The exterior over the burial place, cloaked in darkness, and the private interior, which offers no visible contact to anything outside. Lack of action in enclosed rooms. Who is shut out from from what, why? Time passes in both series of films, but no story develops. In her latest photo-series , "Photo- Grave", which sketched the portrait of a person with each picture,Neriman Polat also hints at the term and the function of the image –storing media ( Photograph/ Photo-Grave); How alive is/was the life of the person whose picture is taken? Where is the real life beyond the images? Identity has to do with responsibility. Neriman Polat’s works show "irresponsible" creatures, who can not make out an opposite to respond to.