Doug Aitken’s Sleepwalkers, the eight screen video installation on the façade of Moma, may be the most breathtaking event of the year. Aitken previously contributed to Ecotopia, an ecologically alarming exhibition at International Center of Photography, with his work “plateau”, a model industrial city made up of entirely Fedex boxes. Continuing to explore the city life, Aitken now reflects the ordinary lives of post 9/11 New Yorkers to the big screen. The ‘architecture’ of Moma, in his words, is ‘transformed into a moving, flowing space.’ The walls that once provided for the enclosed experience of a museum visit are converted into transitive screens that reflect the daily lives of the city dwellers. Sleepwalkers is produced with the support of Creativetime, a nonprofit organization that presents contemporary art works. Producing at large scale is what Creativetime owes its uniqueness to; they aim to produce that which is too big to ignore, “something that has the impact of the unequivocal.” The images glide through the three sides of the building, as the audience falls into the nostalgia of an open air theatre. Each evening until February 12th, the busy crowd of the metropolis is offered a chance to feel small and not so important, as they would if it were “Gone with the Wind” on the big screen.

The five Sleepwalkers are meant to represent Midtown dwellers and accordingly, they perform synchronized mundane activities; such as waking up, going to the bathroom, going to work etc. The videos almost become emblematic of our own small scaled, ordinary lives; only that the actors are not ordinary at all. Tilda Swanton, the ice-cold Narnia princess, plays the office worker overloaded with the photocopies. An image of Swanton, in a dull suit, looking for a cab, is hardly convincing. Her glamour supersedes her role as “one of us”, turning the entire bore into a joy to watch. Same goes with Ryan Donowho, who plays a bicycle messenger, but is too good looking to be one that you wait for someone to discover and make him a star while he’s riding his bicycle. The greatest pleasure of all is seeing Chan Marshall, a.k.a Cat Power, rise up to the day with her blue nail polish on and get to her job as a blue collar worker. The hip characters with their extremely unique physical appearances, when reflected on a large glass screen are a great amusement rather than emblems of the routine big city life.

The five synchronized characters stray away from their pre-determined paths as the background turns black and the red street light gets transformed into hypnotizing big circles. Chan Marshall spins around with her hair gone wild, a pretty unexpected line of movement considering how still she and her guitar can be even during a live performance, while beautiful Ryan Donowho starts playing the drums. (According to our holy source of knowledge Wikipedia, he was, in real life, discovered by an agent while drumming on a bucket in New York City) Aitken’s message is not clear, though. Depending on your mood, he may be a severe critic of the high paced city life and give out the message that “we are all made of stars” if only we could find some resort in our long forgotten hobbies. If you’re not feeling that great that day, he may be one of those artists, interested solely in aesthetics and simply wants to amaze with gorgeous moody images of strikingly beautiful people. Nevertheless the 14 minutes videos are remarkable for their size and their characters, thus are endurable even when it’s freezing cold outside; not the greatest weather for a night out with popcorns, soda and a movie to watch.


“Simple” and “real” are the words to describe Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s self-explanatory movie Climates. Premiered at Cannes Film Festival last May, the movie was first shown in US at the New York Film Festival. In his fourth movie, Ceylan preserves his verbal silence, relying on the highly saturated photographic images to narrate the story. A former photographer, Ceylan frequently makes use of contrast in picturing emotions. In Climates, as in his other movie Distant that won the Grand Prix du Jury at Cannes Film Festival in 2003, the main actors are the nature and geography of Turkey. The movie takes us into a journey from south of Turkey, where the sea and the sun portray the beauty of summer, to the north, where as autumn descends the city puts on the grays.

Ever-changing climates are the background of a decaying relationship. Isa, played by Ceylan himself, is an archaelogist struggling with his doctoral thesis. Bahar, played by Ceylan’s wife Ebru, is his girlfriend who is an art director working in the production of a TV series. Bahar is young and beautiful; her head is turned toward the sun. She’s dreaming of flying away and landing peacefully on infinite green grass. Whereas Isa is a middle aged man, already settled as an asistant professor in a university where art and beauty are institutionalized. Bahar savours the day as Isa measures and plans the future. The thrill is gone and Bahar’s dissapointment turns her into a spoiled little child; belittled by Isa. Their vacation ends as they sweat through the last phases of their relationship. Isa returns back to his office in the university to go on with the routine stuff he’s doing, while Bahar moves as far away as possible from him, to Agri, eastern Turkey, to take on a new job. After spending an autumn away from eachother, Isa gets caught up in an “existentialist malaise.” His routine needs to be broken, for the school goes on a winter break. While making plans of a tropical vacation, his collegue asks him the key question that prepares for the climax; “What are you going to do all by yourself ?” Isa, as the modern individual he acts out to be, reassures himself that this is a vacation long planned for; plus he will surely meet someone out there. But he’s no longer the advanterous, young casanova he used to be; he’s old and “fear of loneliness” becomes unmanagable after a certain age. The words of his friend echo in his ears, “You’ll feel lonely, being away from your country, away from your family. I always get the feeling of emptiness, when I’m all alone,” and Isa retreats back to his one and only consolation, Bahar. The images of the Caribbean and Bahamas are shattered as heavy snow of the East falls on Isa. He chooses engagement over a single journey and receives snow that falls like teardrops instead of the shinning sun. His vulnerablity is concealed under a heroic appearance as he flies to Agri to bring Bahar back to his life.

Best known for his male-centered movies, Climates is Ceylan’s first attempt to make a “heterosexual” movie. Although female scent is all over the picture, Bahar, with her passive-aggressive behavior, is not the ideal feminist representation of equality. Waiting like a child to be taken care of, she never starts a conversation; often stares at distant places. When she speaks, her words come out as snake bites. To tame her, Isa with all his pretentious maturity, emerges from winter. He buys her a present; a music box that would put only a child into dream. It’s not love that Isa asks nor gives, but rather companionship. He officially seeks a partner to go on to vacations with. “I’m ready to start a family,” he says “I’m ready to have a child,” for that is the only thing left for this couple to share. The simple storyline and long scenes of pure staring may cause some audience to become numb. However, these are precisely the moments that Ceylan, a director at full command of his art, wants us to fall into. His real-life characters perform best by remaining silent as Bahar and Isa, together and individually give up in their “pursuit of happiness.”

Sonunda izledim. Ortaligi yakip kavurduktan tam 2 yil sonra Kaufmann’in Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind’ini izledim. Hakkinda birsey okumamaya ozen gostermistim; agizlarinin sulari akarak anlatmaya duranlari susturmustum. Gercekten beni etkileyecek bir film gelmisti ve onu sindire sindire izleyecektim; tek basima, yasayarak. Beklentilerim fazlaydi belki ama ozel hissetmek bunlarin arasinda degildi. 16 yasinda izledigim Crazy and Beautiful filmindeki kizin yaptigi kolajlara hayran kalip heyecanlanmak ya da White Oleander’daki kizin cizdigi resimlere ve annesiyle olan iliskisine ozenmek icin artik fazlaca yas-lanmistim. Bu hayatta motive olmak icin baskalarinin cektigi zorluklari bir filmde izleyip; “ahh yalniz degilim” yalanci rahatligina kavusmak geride biraktigim guzel anilardi sadece. Hayal gucum daha fazlasini talep ediyordu; zorlanmak ve gercekten sasirmak istiyordum. Ve Joel ve Clementine’i, Kate Winslet’in pamuk kadar beyaz yuzunu, Jim Carrey’nin yorgun suratini buyuk bir dikkatle ve icten bir sevgiyle izledim. Film sonunda aklimda kalan tek sey, Clementine’in mavi saclari oldu; turuncu hali cok etki yapmamis olmali. Kendimi, ozel hayatimi buldum filmde; evet. Biraksam bir gulucuk kondurur yuzume, huzurlu bir gece uykusu verirdi belki; ama filmi bu kadar basit algilamayi yediremedim kendime. “Ahh gelip geciyoruz iste; animizi, askimizi, hayatimizi yasayalim sekerim,” diye bir hayat dersi de alamadim, maalesef. Aklim takildi bu unutma isine. Fazlasiyla hatirlayan bir insan olarak; detaylara tutkulu, anlara sabitlenmis hafif takintili ben, unutmaya karsiyim. Unutmaya calisan herkese de bir o kadar kizginim, hatta daha da ileri gidip unutani insanoglunun yuzkarasi ilan edebilirim. Bos bir kafa, “a spotless mind”, ne ise yarar bir soyleyin bana? Nasil yasama gucu bulur insan hergun yeni bir gune uyansa, Mary’nin cok hayran kaldigi bir “new born baby” olsa? Asla diyemem ki insan yasadiklarindan birseyler ogrenir vesaire, cunku birsey ogrendigimizi ogrensek de uygulayabildigimizi sanmiyorum; hayat o kadar rasyonel ve cizgisel yurumuyor. Ama bir sekilde buyuyoruz. Daha iyi ya da daha kotu, daha bilgili ya da daha olgun olmuyoruz asla ama bir insana donusuyoruz. Ve ancak gecmisimizden kopardigimiz anlari o kutuda toplayip, o kutuyu da kendimize saklayabilirsek gercek bir insan olabiliriz; ve insanoglu evrimin en ust noktasi, en muktedir yaratik. Neden boyle birseye donusme sansimizi ellerimizle yok edelim ki?

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