ziyaret, visit is the second part of an essayistic trilogy by Aykan Safoğlu that investigates the relationship between photography, transgression, and remembrance. The film is weaving together analog polaroid and middle-format photographs, the processes and visualizations of their digital scanning, and a voice-over narration that embraces the melodramatic and is rhythmed by the repeating sounds of a photo scanner. Thereby, Safoğlu sensitively pays homage to a lineage of care workers, activists, and cultural producers that finds its embodiment in the life’s work of feminist, social worker, and educator Gülşen Aktaş. A recipient of the Order of Merit of Berlin and »part of a silent community of mourners«, Aktaş generously shares her intimate daily maintenance routine at Berlin’s Old St. Matthews’s Churchyard with Safoğlu in front of his cameras. At the churchyard, she is taking care of the graves and legacies of friends and peers. Established in 1856, the cemetery hosts, to this date, about sixty graves declared as official heritage sites by the City of Berlin. Aktaş predominantly takes care of the burial sites of community members involved in anti-racist, queer, and feminist struggles. These elders and kinsfolk include artist and free-love activist Helga Goetze, feminist and author Hedwig Dohm, lesbian activist Kitty Kuse, drag legend Ovo Maltine, conductor Israel Yinon, the many AIDS-related deaths commemorated through the Denkmal positHIV monument, her mother Şirin Aktaş, »the future resting place of your long-time lesbian artist friends« as well as her friend May Ayim. »Migrated too soon from this Earth«, Aktaş is being quoted by Safoğlu while conjuring the memory of the Ghanaian-German poet, pedagogue, and activist Ayim who was co-editor of the seminal anthology Showing Our Colors: Afro-German Women Speak Out. This book is the first collection of political writings of Black German women, influenced by the »black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet« Audre Lorde during her infamous Berlin years and her famous concept of self-care as an act of political warfare. With an archaeological interest in the communal memory site, ziyaret, visit transmutes into a tender contemplation on inter-generational bonds, lateral agencies, and alternative futurities in favor of affectionate dynamics of kinship and alliances for care beyond space and time.
Mobilizing a range of media, my work imagines, cultivates, and reflects ‘companionship’ across cultural, geographical, linguistic, and temporal boundaries.
Upon migrating to Germany, I began to slow my artistic practice so as to stretch shared moments in collective memory, and to translate them onto affective surfaces. I migrate from my own knowledge of photography and the medium's capacity for capturing time, and ultimately arrive at different artistic forms.
Photography is writing with light. By writing in different temporal modalities —images, movement and both—, I draft and script image-texts for journeying hybrid dialogues that navigate past-present-future tenses and spaces. Thus, my screens become visual excavation sites where the audience is invited to collectively attune to sediments of a future feeling-seeing. In this way, my practice evokes an affective, mindful complicity to discuss dislocation and dispossession with regards to concepts of class, race, gender, and desire. (Aykan Safoğlu)
Images: Aykan Safoğlu, ziyaret, visit, 2019 © Aykan Safoğlu/ Courtesy The Pill