At the Berlinische Galerie, Pınar Öğrenci will show the film “Aşît/The Avalanche” (2022, 60 min.), produced for documenta fifteen. The inspiration and starting point for it was Stefan Zweig’s “Chess Novella”, written in 1942 in Brazilian exile, in which the game of chess becomes a survival strategy in the face of fascism. Öğrenci has returned to her father’s hometown, Müküs (Bahçesaray in Turkish), for her work. This is in the Van region on Turkey’s border with Iran. Until 1915, the town’s education system and heritage transmission were multilingual: Armenian, Kurdish, Farsi and Arabic co-existed. Today it has a high proportion of Kurdish population. The title of the film “Aşît” is Kurdish and means “avalanche” and “catastrophe”. It refers both to the avalanche that threatens to cut Müküs off from the rest of the world and to “Meds Yeghern” (The Great Catastrophe) of 1915, the genocide of about 1.5 million Armenians during the First World War.
In her visually powerful work, Öğrenci shows the everyday strategies of the Kurdish population under state pressure. The film addresses the traces of the different cultures that were present in Müküs before parts of the population were murdered, expelled or forced to assimilate. A central role is played by the Armenian musician Hayrik Muradian, who
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Fig. above: Pınar Öğrenci, Aşît, 2022, Film Still, Credits. Pınar Öğrenci