– Intermix 2023
Öznur Özturk’s project is based on the concept of diversity. A native of Genk, a cauldron of different cultures of which none prevails, she goes in search of what diversity can mean in Watou. Inevitably the focus quickly turns to language – the encounter between Flemish and French – and life in a border region. People who live in France but went to school in Watou, mixed French-Flemish marriages. Skin colour, ethnicity, gender or age are less important. Still, she does find some inhabitants with different origins, from Antwerp or even Turkey. In their families cultures mix and ultimately result in a new identity.
A frequent influence in Watou is faith. Because of its location, the church is literally at the heart of Watou and acts as an important point of contact to many inhabitants. It is a place that both brings people together and creates a barrier for non-members. The architecture and the interior provide Özturk with a kind of recognition and a sense of home. She grew up with Islamic norms and values but always went to a Catholic church.
As a photographer it feels natural to work with portraits, for which the encounters with the families from mixed cultures are the starting point. Especially the children capture her attention because in the future they will provide greater diversity in the village and the surrounding area. At the same time she wants to add a new dimension to her work, which is why she develops a sculpture inspired on altar paintings as a carrier for her photographs. Other sources of inspiration are Islamic prayer rooms but also flowers from the landscape around Watou. The centre of attention is the pigeon, which in the church also symbolises the presence of the Holy Spirit, freedom, peace, trust, friendship and love.
The end result is a kind of altar which, however, is purposely not placed inside the church but in castle De Lovie. This gives further expression to the theme of mixed identity and displacement.
The municipality of As made a workshop available where Özturk could work on the woodwork.
Öznur Özturk [Hasselt, 1989] lives in As and works in Genk/Antwerp. Öznur has shown her work in varied group exhibitions consisting of videos, photography, mixed media and text. She graduated in 2015 as a Master in Visual Arts / Photography from LUCA, School of Arts in Genk. That same year, she won the Wanatoe audience award and was selected for numerous exhibitions such as Europalia Turkey and the art festival in Ulbeek.