Ferhat Özgür‘s (Turkish, b. 1965) practice critiques contemporary political realities with humor and irony. Living and working in Istanbul, Özgür principally focuses upon the relationship of the individual with society, using his work as a space within which individuality can be expressed in spite of the context of oppressive environments.
Özgür‘s video I Can Sing (2008), depicts an Anatolian woman in a headscarf, standing before a backdrop of contemporary Ankara featuring minarets alongside the ever-expanding sprawl of urban development. The woman’s lips move in conflict with the soundtrack of Jeff Buckley’s cover version of Leonard Cohen’s classic song “Hallelujah”. Her personal lament becomes a lament for the disappearance of cultural traditions and identities in the wake of western homogenization. She appears to both praise and despair, but the lines between Islam and Christianity, Western influence and Turkish tradition are blurred--suggesting that change is being both embraced and shunned. She is an embodiment of societal upheaval and change. Even the major key of the Western popular song is an indicator of uprooting as it obliterates the minor tones characteristic of Turkish music.