Deniz Soezen is a visual artist with a multi-disciplinary practice, currently pursuing a practice-based PhD at the University of Westminster, London. Her multi-part installations explore ways to challenge and destabilize fixed notions of identity and belonging. The audio-visual elements of her work shift in the shapes of documentary-style recording, experimental film and multi-lingual storytelling. Her works have been shown in various contexts internationally.
‘Kahvehane Kongresspark’ was commissioned and presented at an urban art festival called Soho in Ottakring in Vienna in June 2016. For the duration of two weeks a temporary coffeehouse, in Turkish “Kahvehane”, was set up as an urban art intervention at the former milk hall in the Vienna Kongresspark. Organic and fair trade “Turkish-style” coffee was served free of charge in specially designed cups and saucers, which I had prepared at the Ceramics Research Centre at the University of Westminster.
The designs on the coffee cups and saucers showed fragments of old colonial maps and reflected coffee’s colonial history and the globalization of coffee. The temporary café provided the open-air stage for an interactive lecture-performance, which I developed and performed in collaboration with the UK-based bharatanatyam artist Shane Shambhu. The lecture-performance explored the cultural history of coffee from multiple angles presented as fragmented narrative, transgressing historical, spatial and linguistic boundaries. The performance proposed an alternative mode of knowledge transmission through a mix of dance, comedy, street theatre & roleplaying as a meditation on history in multiple languages.
The experimental video ‘Surya Namaz’ explores the practices of yoga and namaz, the Muslim prayer ritual, through a personal and multi-lingual narrative, destabilizing fixed notions of belonging and identity through opacity and transcultural embodiment.
I approach Namaz, the Muslim prayer ritual and the yoga sequence Surya Namaskar as performances or “dynamically embodied signifying acts” (Farnell, 2012), which make up culture and the self. By embodying these rituals, I am simultaneously performing different bodily practices stemming from specific cultural or religious contexts, negotiating my transcultural, multiple selves through putting these practices into relation with each other.
Special thanks to my Ashtanga yoga teacher Marisol Figuera Reitze and my aunt Ümit Sözen.
Camera: Yeliz Palak, Ülgen Semerci, Deniz Soezen, Cecile Weibel
Script and montage: Deniz Soezen