Kutluğ Ataman

(Turkey, England 1961 – )

Martin is asleep

Not on display
Further information

Kutlug Ataman is a Turkish filmmaker and contemporary artist. He began his career as a documentary and feature filmmaker. He was arrested, imprisoned and tortured for his recordings of street protests that preceded the 1980 Turkish military coup. After his release from prison he moved to Los Angeles, where he studied film at the University of California graduating in 1985 with a BA and a MFA in 1988. He was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2004 and won the Carnegie Prize in 2005. His work has been included in Documenta, Manifesta, Carnegie International, as well as numerous biennales - Sydney, Istanbul, Venice, São Paulo, Moscow and Berlin. He lives and works between Istanbul and London.

Ataman describes his video installations as ‘sculptures’. His early works examine the ways in which people and communities create and rewrite their identities through self-expression, blurring the line between reality and fiction. His later works, in which his home country of Turkey continues to play a major part, focus on history and geography as man-made constructs.

Martin is asleep consists of a video of a nude man sleeping, projected on an actual dollhouse bed. The man's very quiet breathing can be heard. This beautiful and intimate film of Ataman’s partner Martin Fryer sleeping is a homage to Andy Warhol’s first film, Sleep 1963, which depicts a sleeping John Giorno (Warhol’s lover at the time). In Ataman’s work, the smallness of the projection and the model bed, combined with the subject’s exposed body and the first-person address of the title, create a sense of extreme vulnerability, intimacy, curiosity and anticipation.

Ataman has said about Martin is asleep the “aim is to turn this image into an icon, something that is very little but very big at the same time. This 1999 work is really the resurgence of the fool in the age of reason, in what humanity naively assumed would be the dawn of a new civilization at the turn of the century. Irresponsible yet vulnerable, foolish yet truthful and wise, the man sleeps through it all. The same image has also been shown on a huge screen overlooking Leicester Square in London so that the relationship with the viewer is the total opposite.”

Martin is asleep was exhibited in 2000 on the GMI Screen, Leicester Square, London

Time-based art
single channel digital video, colour, sound, projector, dollhouse bed
display dimensions variable
Signature & date

Signed label on betacam master, black fibre-tipped pen "KAtaman (signature)". Not dated.

Gift of Eleonora and Michael Triguboff 2019. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number
© Kutluğ Ataman