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berlinerförderp rogramm künstle rischeforschung


Didem Pekün

Otherwise, on faultlines

The research Otherwise initially started with the simple yet urgent question of “How to continue living in times of faultlines in Istanbul, and globally?”

The collaboration with dancer and choreographer Mihran Tomasyan led to two filmic works that embody this initial question: a feature-length creative documentary (Otherwise in Istanbul, 2024), and a multiscreen installation (at night, on faultlines, 2024). Through the methodology of coming together – first by becoming an ensemble, then on insisting on making work that does imagine being otherwise, on fautlines – seemed good starting points.

Initially, this collaboration took shape in a dance and music shoot of a house in turbulence, sitting on a faultline. But since different filmic works allow for different thought models, Didem envisioned separate outputs and used this material in two separate ways.

The feature-length documentary, Otherwise in Istanbul, explores what it is to be an Istanbulian artist against all odds through Tomasyan’s lens. The film weaves together Tomasyan’s narrative, his personal archive, as well as the leitmotif of dance and music sequences and thus explores the past and present of Istanbul as an Armenian dancer and choreographer.

This artistic research method of documentary filmmaking helped reinscribe into collective memory the aforementioned topics and shows what it is to live on faultlines physically, but also metaphorically in times of economic, political, and ecological strives.

However, it is the installation, at night, on faultlines, that allowed for a more embodied experience of the research. With the same footage of the dances as well as Istanbul’s city and overwhelming crowd images, we watch dancers spread into five screens organised into five episodes of a day. As we watch them lean on each other, climbing over straight walls, one searches for an answer to the above question “How to continue living in times of faultlines?” Dancing and dancing together seem to be a starting point, for dance is the embodiment of perpetual motion, and being in movement is being alive.


DP,  28 May, 2024


In her work, Didem Pekün (b. 1978, Istanbul) combines research and practice. Previously in her films, she addressed how violence and displacement define and destroy life. She is currently researching a roaming art education platform titled Elemental Lab. Her documentaries and video installations have been shown internationally and received different awards. She is a founding member of Center for Spatial Justice (MAD). She holds a BA in Music from SOAS, an MA in Documentary from Goldsmiths, and a practice-based PhD in Visual Cultures from Goldsmiths, University of London. She is currently a visiting lecturer at Kadir Has University, Istanbul (on leave 2022-23). She loves cats, very dark chocolate, and Istanbul.