Erkan Özgen
Antrepo No.3
Feriköy Greek School

Born in 1971, Mardin. Lives in Diyarbakır.

Erkan Özgen's works address a wide range of social problems, and the everyday reality of living in Diyarbakır, a city in southeastern Turkey. Diyarbakır has a predominantly Kurdish population. According to some estimates the city increased from 400,000 inhabitants in 1990 to 1.5 million in 1997, as a result of conflicts in the surrounding area. Today it has an estimated unemployment rate of 40%. The videos Robben (2008), Origin (2008) and Breath (2008) all explore the oppressive nature of government apparatus.
Origin makes visible the mechanisms of imposing a sense of national cohesion. The video, which was filmed in Spain, follows a group of African male illegal immigrants, marching in a park, chanting the same slogan: 'How fortunate is the one who says I am Turkish'. The quote is from the Turkish national pledge 'Our Oath', which, since the 1920s, has been spoken as part of the daily routine in all Turkish educational and military institutions.
Robben is filmed in front of the recently closed Diyarbakır prison, which is notorious for being the place where many political prisoners were sent, especially after the military coup in 1980. The title of the video refers to South Africa's Robben Island, which, since the end of the 17th century has been used to isolate prisoners from various Dutch colonies. During the apartheid era many political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela, were incarcerated on Robben Island. The video features three scenarios in which young men are carrying out repetitive actions: one continuously jumps against the prison walls as if trying to move them; another sings a sad song that makes reference to the harshness of prison life, whilst the third sticks a photograph of Michel Foucault on the prison facade and proceeds to throw stones until the photograph falls down.
Breath follows a man hurrying through the empty streets of Diyarbakır, his face covered by a black cloth. When he reaches the outskirts of the city, he unmasks his face and breathes anxiously.