Erkan Özgen’s haunting video work Wonderland (2016) presents a young boy Muhammed, who is deaf and unable to speak, has had to escape the Syrian war with his family. When the the Islamic State (ISIS) forces besieged Muhammed’s hometown Kobani close to the Turkish border, thousands of people had to flee the area, even though the town was eventually recovered.
On the video, the deaf-mute Muhammed uses sounds and gestures to recount his family’s experiences escaping the war from Syria to Turkey. The trials of merely a 13-year-old boy brings the viewer face-to-face with the horrors of war – the wordless tale is a powerful and moving message against war.
Erkan Özgen (b. 1971, Mardin, Turkey), whose video and photography-based installations examine issues concerning migration, cultural identity, language, conscience and ethics, among others. Özgen’s works have been on display in various group exhibitions around the world. In addition, Özgen has also participated in a residency programme in Malmö, Sweden, participated in an artist exchange programme in Barcelona, and organized workshops, among other things.
Photo: Erkan Özgen: Wonderland, 2016. Video still. © EMMA