Sex and gardening from Turkey


Art tourists after some Sunday afternoon eye candy might find Kutlug Ataman's video installations a little more demanding than their usual strolls through the Serpentine Gallery. Polysexuality and gardening have equal gravitas (well, almost) in the seven works by the Turko-British filmmaker and artist, their characters and tales as vivid and emotional as any fictional creation.

99 Names

Born in Istanbul in 1961, Ataman went to film school in LA before returning to Turkey where, as a filmmaker who made no secret of his sexuality, for all the praise he won he had an equal amount of homosexual abuse thrown at him.

Never My soul

His fascination with the transformation of identity appears throughout his home video-style documentaries. His most powerful piece is Never My Soul (2001), which tells the story of the beautiful Turkish transvestite Ceyhan Firat. His fondness for people who have eschewed convention to live their lives as they choose to is a running theme. In the four-screened work Women Who Wear Wigs (1999), a wanted terrorist, a Muslim student, a Turkish journalist and a transsexual prostitute discuss their lives with wigs.

Women Who Wear Wigs

To get the most from this exhibition, be prepared to invest some time in each piece. As the 80-something Turkish opera singer, Semiha Berksoy, relives the dramatic highlights from her life you might be tempted to stay for the whole two and a half hours. Juliet Kinsman 13 February 03

Kutlug Ataman is at the Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, London W2 until 09 March 03. Open daily from 10am to 6pm, free.