by Anna Zizlsperger

In different cultures at different places of the world, every living human shares and relates to stories that come from the same place: the world of myths and archetypes and the stories that are written within the language of the collective unconscious. When you rise in the morning, you enter the stage of the world only to get off the stage again when you go to bed at night. There is no director, no script, and we each must seek our motivations and speak in character. But what if there were a script? The longing for that kind of fated ‘script’ in life is as old as humanity itself, one that has triggered the creation of social rules, spiritual concepts, myths and religions. It is those aspects of human life that interest Turkish artist Fatma Bucak, with her art relating to such notions of the world through and of her own female perspective.

Prior to the writing of this article, I asked Fatma to relay to me a simple day in her life. One of the most notable passages to me was one where she wrote, as if through stream of consciousness, on the process of starting a new artwork:

„started to prepare to-do list for a new shoot; a new photographic image I am planning to test soon. Materials to find – a compass, frogs, some aluminum pieces etc.-, to buy –backdrop etc.- still don’t know which colour- … „

From this we can start to see Bucak’s approach to her art, one that is very intellectual and conceptual. Before starting to work on a piece, she does extensive research, then chooses all the visual elements through conscious and nuanced deliberation, which gives her much control over the ‘script’ of her work. When asked about her artistic inspirations, the artist often mentions Piranesi’s Prisons (1750)(Carceri d’invenzione or Imaginary Prisons), a series of 16 prints that show enormous subterranean vaults with complex staircases and mighty machines. The feeling the viewer gets from looking closely at each print is one of being trapped or lost, trying to figure the way out. The figures in these engravings, seem like enigmatic accessories to labyrinthine monuments, moving but going nowhere, captive to edifices of their own construction, a geometric world in which every measurement is the result of a exact calculation.

As if in reference to Piranesi, Bucak explores the emotional complexity of imprisonment in her photographic series Allegories of Guilt. Staged in the public space of a juvenile prison in Italy — located in the town where the artist both lived and studied — she asked imprisoned young boys and girls to decide upon stage areas at which to capture their own self-portraits as a form of performance. Through the use of a remote control cable that controlled the camera, prisoners were involuntarily turned into the authors of their own fates; the same cable became a medium to create a connection with the observers and the outside world…