• Lights

    21 manipulated digital prints behind Plexiglas
    Nancy Atakan

    In 1976 using 5533 5th Block of Istanbul Manifatura Carsisi (IMC, an office space he inherited from his mother) as his office, my husband founded the Atakan Company and began to represent and sell West German Durkkopp industrial machines to the Turkish garment market. During the 1980s and 90s the company grew and moved to a larger space in another part of Istanbul. After the 2000 economic crisis, the spaces in IMC became a depot for old or left over machines and files. With only minimal changes, these offices were transformed by two curators, Esther Lu and Adnan Yildiz, into a space for exhibition of artwork, interaction of participants and discussion about issues related to curatorial practice during the 10th International Istanbul Biennial.

    During the early months of 2007, as a project for this event they named, “Big Family Business”, I visited several factories in Istanbul that use Durkkopp sewing machines to produce readymade clothes. Atakan Company representatives made appointments with the factory owners for my visits and I spent time in the boss’s office explaining my project. As an authority, a stranger, an outsider, a spy, a public voyeur, someone that everyone wanted to impress and please, I entered the factories to take ‘candid’ photographs. Without explanation to the workers, factory owners lead me through their realms and allowed me to photograph.

    From over one hundred photographs of factory spaces, workers, and owners, I selected 21 portraits of the female workers. Most of the women I photographed were young, clean, attractive, dressed in colorful harmonious clothes. As I photographed them, they seemingly ignored me and concentrated on their work. Since I came from outside, since I did not interact with them, for me, the whole experience became only ‘make believe.’ On this trip to the unknown, a place I have never worked, a place I avoided, a place I viewed as degrading, a place I feared (my father was a textile worker), I imagined the female workers to be like lights that shine brightly for a period of time and are discarded when they start to fade. But, perhaps this is only my projection; perhaps I am describing myself.