Review | Kutlug Ataman

Jonah Goldman Kay, Artforum, September 6, 2022

The works of Kutlug ̆ Ataman blur the line between fact and fiction as the Turkish artist-filmmaker examines his subjects’ self-presentation. Ataman’s own experience flickers at the edges, always present but never the main subject. In the pair of exhibitions “Mesopotamian Dramatur- gies” and “fiction”—Ataman’s first gallery shows since stepping away from the art scene in 2013—biography once again held an understat- edly central place. In the early aughts, Ataman was a rising star in the art world, with a Turner Prize nomination and a Venice Biennale com- mission to his name. Then he suddenly withdrew from public life, retreating to a farm in eastern Turkey, where he tended to his live- stock. Spread across both of Niru Ratnam’s locations, “Mesopotamian Dramaturgies” and “fiction” read as both a documentation of Ataman’s pastoral activities over the past seven years 

and a return to his perennial fascination with identity construction.