Woman in Red, 2008

Betacam numérique PAL, couleur, son

This video borrows its title from an American comedy from 1984, directed by Gene Wilder, who also plays a starring role. His character falls in love with a woman dressed in a red dress that he passes on the street. Berat Isik conserves only the title and the symbolic element of the red dress from the film; it is absolutely not a remake or a critique of the film, but instead constitutes an enunciative act of filmic references, and references from pop culture more generally. The action takes place in an underground parking lot. A car drives with squealing tyres – from the spectator’s point of view, conditioned by cinema and television, we perceive a tension or even a potential danger. A young woman wearing a short red dress crosses the parking lot and we can hear her footsteps. She stops when she is on a ventilator creating an updraft and poses, facing the camera, as though she were in an advertisement, while the air from the ventilator makes her skirt flutter. We think that we are watching an advertisement, until we see that the young woman’s skirt conceals explosives, attached to the top of her thighs. In Woman in red, the artist plays with the codes of popular imagery. Despite an intentionally flawed technique, the young woman’s pose, her dress, her make-up and the way she stands out from her surroundings remind us of the polished images of an advertisement, in which the image of the woman is instrumentalised for market objectives, up until the very last moment, when the explosives revealed by the fluttering skirt change the meaning of the image: from objectified woman to human bomb, from a commodified passivity to a potential for action, however destructive it may be. Yekhan Pinarligil