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"I WON’T LET YOU OUT OF MY SIGHT" 2015

Wall text

Wall text

Cigdem Aydemir

Born 1983, Gadigal Country/Sydney, NSW.

Lives and works in Gadigal Country/Sydney, NSW.

Pronouns: she/her.

 

"I WON’T LET YOU OUT OF MY SIGHT" 2015

 

two-channel HD colour video and sound

10:21 minutes

Courtesy of the artist and FIN Gallery, Naarm/Melbourne. Concept, performance and editing: Cigdem Aydemir. Cinematography and colour correction: Meg White. Assistant camera: Dimitri Zaunders. Assistant camera: Matthew Bedford. Sound editing: Drew Bisset. Music: 'I'm Always Here' by Jimi Jamison. This artwork has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.

In her video work I WON’T LET YOU OUT OF MY SIGHT, Cigdem Aydemir uses humour to explore the absurdities of white settler-Australian nationalism. Acting out her own positionality within the landscape of colonial Australia, the artist engages with erratic nationalistic fears of security, territory, and power.

 

The camera follows Aydemir, dressed in a bright red burqini (a swimsuit made for veiled Muslim women), running up and down crowded beaches with a lifesaver float in hand. This prop acts as both life-saving equipment and boombox, blasting the soundtrack from 1990s television program Baywatch, as the artist surveys the ocean waves, ready to spring into action. Famous globally for its iconic montages of heroic, scantily clad lifeguards running towards danger in seductive slow motion, Baywatch is re-enacted and parodied by Aydemir as she struggles through the water and sand, somewhat failing yet steadfastly persisting in her lifeguard duties. In this performance, Aydemir questions the clichés, nationalisms, and ideologies that are consumed through popular media, holding them up as a measure against reality to assess their effectiveness.  

The Australian beachscape is idealised in the settler-Australian worldview as a space of democratic, classless leisure. In reality, beaches exist as sites of severe historical and contemporary racial conflict. This work was shot at three densely populated beaches in Sydney: Bondi, Maroubra, and Cronulla. Aydemir’s performance refers directly to the 2005 Cronulla Riots, an event ignited by a physical fight between lifeguards and a group of young Middle Eastern men. This altercation was popularly framed as an attack on ‘Australian’ values and ways of life, and three days of riots ensued. During the rioting, Anglo-Australian individuals draped in Australian flags rallied to ‘reclaim the beach’ and their targets were specifically people of Middle Eastern appearance.

 

In her video work, Aydemir revisits these sites of racial violence as lifeguarding, veiled Other, stumbling through the masses of sunburnt bodies 10 years on from the Cronulla Riots. Placing herself at odds with the landscape that she protects, the artist actively engages with her own anger, grief, and sense of national identity through satire in this performance. 
 

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