His work has been described as archaeological, poetic, strict, very realistic. Indeed, the videos of Ali Kazma (Istanbul, 1971) set in motion a broad and diverse spectrum of emotions, arousing in the viewer wonder, admiration, rejection or anxiety depending on the subject from time to time investigated. As a careful explorer, a discreet and impalpable presence, Ali Kazma goes into places with a strong historical and social identity (as in Absence) or working in specific contexts (such as in the series Obstructions), filming with stunning accuracy, details and gestures, recording sounds and movements in their pure occurrence, revealing mechanisms often unknown to the eye, hidden or unknown processes.

Already present with his series Absence in the current issue of DROME, Catastrophe, we met again Ali Kazma at the exhibition Intimacy, his second and just ended solo show at the Francesca Minini Gallery in Milan.

DROME: In your recent video, Absence, shot in an abandoned NATO base in Holland, the human figure is substituted by its traces, by signs and objects linked to the past role of this place. Which kind of approach did you adopt and what did you want to convey through this project?
ALI KAZMA: I have been for a long time interested in the war-machine and wanted to include it in my body of work. But as one could guess, it is very difficult to get permissions to shoot in military spaces, especially if they suspect you might not have the “Top Gun” perspective. The war, of course, is a very difficult subject to work on as it has been explored, demonized, televised, fictionalized, moralized, exploited, simplified, turned into farce… It seems like all that can be done with it has been exhausted in one way or another. So when I was given the chance to enter this space, my first approach was to observe the little things, things that one usually does not associate with the spectacle that war has become. And through these small things, try to build a representation of the mentality, the understanding of the world that the war machine has. It is, ultimately, an impossible world. A world built by humans who dream impossible dreams. A world without humans. And the base is exactly that. 

D: Do you think you would have had the same approach and reached the same effect by shooting in a similar place but still operative and inhabited? Would you do it? 
AK: I would have approached it differently. I would have made a video about the people actively building the impossible world. I would once again concentrate on the extreme rationalism and economy of space and materials at work in the base, but there would be an added tension; an added hope, as all human activity, when shown in images, somehow link it with all others.

D: You said you’re “interested in the transcendental positions in art and in every activity, in pushing the limits.” Could you explain exactly what do you mean and how do you put into practice this purpose?
AK: Interesting things happen when one pushes the limits; when one enters a space one has not mastered; where one has to make decisions one is not sure of; where one faces obstacles of a new type. This is where one can test who he has become. One has to call and gather all that he is and he has into this unchartered territory in the hope that through this strife, he may become even more.

D: For your series Obstructions you entered many peculiar spaces and worked in very different conditions. Have you ever felt a sort of uneasiness when shooting them, or there has been one or more occasions in which it has been hard to stay impassive, being like — according to your definition — a “ghost”?
AK: The first few days of the shooting of Slaughterhouse were very difficult on my senses. The stink in the place was palpable, material. And my dance videos, Dancer and Dance Company were very difficult to shoot. I felt something essential was escaping me all the time.

D: Which project are you working on now?
AK: I am now working on the editing of Automobile Factory, a video I shot at the Audi factory in Ingolstadt, Germany.

text by Francesca Cogoni
photos by Carlo Beccalli for DROME magazine

Ali Kazma
Galleria Francesca Minini
Via Privata Massimiano, 25 

Milan, March 21 – May 3, 2012