Ahmet Sami Özbudak


What if we ask whether darkness can dance? I would answer, “Depends on the light”. And I would start searching within myself if it were true. We cannot see the darkness dancing, because we are in the dark at that moment, but what if we feel the dance… Sometimes feeling is the only reality. All that appears may disappear, but the feeling remains with us. Feelings are the eternal inhabitant of our heart. Başak Bugay’s exhibition Fugue is a parade of emotions. The feelings I had during the first visit are like a waterfall that overflows my mouth. I can depict it like this. You start talking and you feel clouds coming out of your mouth. At least that’s the feeling it creates for someone suffering from city-fatigue like me. Everyone who sees Fugue will have similar feelings. For some, the cloud will be replaced by cigarette smoke, or a mist, perhaps a sea foam…

It is as if everything you see in Fugue takes a new form as to your perspective. Your perspective and feelings recreate the artist’s sculptures. I suppose that’s the power of an artwork. The eye of the creator and the beholder meet at a common place producing a common work in collaboration. Everyone who sees the sculptures in Fugue will complete the work they see with a story from their own world. This promise is not in vain, you will also realize that minds and memories come together to meet around a common language before these works.

You will understand the poetic sentences I formed above when you visit the section with the head sculptures located in the well-lit part of the exhibition. That part is called “Old Town”. You must have a story for each head you see there, but looking at that installation from afar, some common feeling will come to us, despite all different perspectives and stories. Also, the “Old City” promises a low-altitude flight to southeastern cities such as Urfa, Mardin, and Adıyaman. You look at the bloody and war-torn atmosphere of the Southeast from a doll’s house. My point is, Barbie dolls have candy-like houses, you know, how naive and sweet life is perceived in those houses… What you feel is the opposite. Naivety remains, but “Old Town” is like a dollhouse served with hot sauce. It is like a forbidden toy for us as the people of this geography whose inner child has been forced not to grow up. The projection of a childlike anger that levels to the ground.

I started with a definition of darkness, but what makes the people of Fugue so alive and effective is the interplay between the light and the dark. Thanks to the setup, we feel that they revolve around us and gradually become us who visit the exhibition.

For example, the work called “Slope” shouts “Get rid of gravity if you want to escape the weight our age imposes on you.” At least that’s how I feel. “Gravity dooms us,” I say. At this point, I look at what Başak Bugay has to say about the work. I am not surprised by this sentence, “The individual who falters in the hilly structure of the ground gets disconnected from reality because of her burdens and is left hanging in the air”. This is how we underline the spiritual kinship I mentioned above, as watchers and performers.

The other stop of our journey is “Twenty O’clock”. For me, this work represents loneliness and despair. The main source of hopelessness is the things we hear every day. Başak Bugay, on the other hand, refers to “TV announcements in the evening news” with this piece. The common feeling between the artist and the viewer is evident here as well.

One of the most shocking pieces for me is “Flying Balloon”. It was actually a contiguity for me. A head and a betrothed body depicted by ropes on the chair. When I looked at the head standing beside it, I felt like I was looking in the mirror. And that’s when I realized the disintegration in my body, my arms and legs unraveling thread by thread and helplessly defying gravity in a chair. It was a striking relationship between death and life, the scattered body and the surviving thoughts and memories. Bugay allows the mind to oat away with this piece, but it made me lose the sense of my body even before my mind had a chance to fly out.

A window from my childhood is the work entitled “Why the laugh?”. A cemetery where dolls are buried, but not a dreary place. It is as if you can stare the right way, they will come to life, smile at you and say the sentence you need to hear that day, that is, the day you visit this exhibition.

Fugue made me feel the dance of darkness. Despite the darkness, it gave me hope. I told myself “Happy to be born in this geography”; I whispered to myself “Happy that I grew up with such feelings”. Fugue is derived from the word to fly, and as I write this article and play with words, I feel my feet are o the ground. I am floating in the dark sky while my body is getting thrown thread by thread towards the earth. And I love this feeling. Unraveling feels like the world’s greatest freedom.

>>Ahmet Sami Özbudak is a theatre director, playwright and novelist based in Istanbul. He completed his undergraduate education at Istanbul University, Faculty of Literature, Archiving Department. In 2013, he received the prestigious Heidelberger Stückemarkt European Young Writer Award with his play “İz” staged by GalataPerform production. His novel titled “Masturi Cabaret” was published by Artemis Publication in 2014. The play “Hayal-i Temsil”, which is part of the project of Afife Jale and Bedia Muvahhit, written by Özbudak, met with the audience in the repertoire of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality City Theaters in 2015. Among the plays he has written and adapted for the stage are “Kar Küresinde Bir Tavşan” (ikincikat, 2015- 2016 season); “Romeo and Juliet” (Nilüfer Municipality, Bursa, Turkey, 2016-2017 season); “Sherlock Ha- mid” (Bakırköy Municipal Theaters, Istanbul, Turkey, 2017-2018 season); “Mutluyduk Belki Bugüne Kadar” (TwoTwo Production, 2017-2018 season); “Red Speedo” (TwoTwo Productions, Pera Palas Hotel, Istanbul, Turkey, 2018); “Meçhul Paşa” (Tiyatro Adam, Istanbul, Turkey, 2018); “Suleymankurt” (Berlin Maxim Gor- ki Theater Studio R, Germany, 2018); “Klan” (Tebdil-i Mekan production, 2019-2020 season); “Gomidas” (Yolcu Theater production, Istanbul Theater Festival, Turkey, 2020); “Yel” (Fringe Ensemble theater group Bonn, Germany, 2021).
Translated by Zeynep Nur Ayanoğlu