Funda Gül Özcan, It Happened as Expected, 2018
Copyright Funda Gül Özcan
Commissioned for the 2018 Steirischer Herbst festival in Graz, Özcan’s installation summons poor-quality imagery ripped from all corners of the internet, collaged across four TV monitors. Using layered sheets of glass and reflections, Özcan creates transient 3D holographic effects as figures pop and disappear spontaneously. Leading the charge is a digital rendering of an uncontrollably weeping Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose words are quoted in the title of this exhibition. Özcan’s installation speculates a scenario in which the Turkish president launches into a tearful apology for having betrayed his former ally, exiled religious leader and businessman Fethullah Gülen. It is widely believed that Gülen and his movement were effective in helping to bring Erdoğan to power, but the tables turned in 2016 when they were accused by Erdoğan of organizing the coup attempt that aimed to take down his regime. Özcan’s hologram recalls the central moment of that historic night, when Erdoğan appeared on FaceTime (filmed on a mobile phone), calling upon his supporters to take to the streets to prevent his purported enemies from seizing power. It also refers more directly to Erdoğan’s pioneering use of a giant hologram to address a crowd of supporters at a rally at Izmir in January 2014. Other politicians have since followed suit, including Jean-Luc Mélenchon of France, New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, and India’s Narendra Modi.