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Under Deep Water
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Under Deep Water
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Dieter Mammel encounters the
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Dieter Mammel encounters the ‘self’ under deep water

Dieter Mammel
" German artist Dieter Mammel’s
“Under Deep Water” is on display until June 26
at the C.A.M. Gallery in İstanbul.

Here are the shadows of colors fluctuating between oceanic blue and deep purple and which represent the world of German artist Dieter Mammel, a world depicted with water and the “states” of water with respect to those of human beings.

“Under Deep Water” is undoubtedly a significant exhibition with striking pieces of work. Displayed at the C.A.M. Gallery in the Nişantaşı quarter until June 26, the exhibition offers the encounter of a person with his “self” as well as his conscience, childhood, his past and his future. This feeling intensifies while watching Mammel’s film of the same name.
“I don’t like a lot of colors in a painting,” Mammel told Today’s Zaman in an interview, a confirmation of the aforementioned statement. “It’s a concentration in light and shadow,” he says. Before getting to the final stage of this project, Mammel had to overcome many misfortunes. But despite all, he worked hard to complete it.
“I was invited to screen the film,” Mammel says. “Mr. Yusuf Kaplan invited us to come to İstanbul for the İstanbul European Capital of Culture in 2010. Together with the producer Claudio Malasomma, Mammel began work on his film . This, however, was when the problems started. “I didn’t get anything financially. Then when I came back later, Mr. Kaplan didn’t do anything to support us financially. … So we financed the whole film. It was a self-financed project because it was a very, very important project for me.
Just at the moment when everything seemed hopeless, Mammel regained his drive with the support of his friends and Claudio Malasomma. [Gallery owner] Sevil’s assistant Hakan and his family are composer Gökhan Kırdar’s neighbors. At this point, everything advanced rapidly and Mammel met Kırdar. “I asked him for the film music since it was a freelance job,” Mammel explains. “He said: ‘OK, I’ll do it. I’ll do it because I like the story.’ Mammel has yet to be given a place by the İstanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency to present the film, though the Pera Museum and the C.A.M. Gallery have already opened their arms to him. “I can always do my paintings, but this filproject was such a curious adventure for me.”

Encountering the ‘self’

The film and the works in the exhibition are quite similar, meaning they complement each other well.

“The water theme is very close to my technique, my ink and watercolor technique on ungrounded canvas,” Mammel says. “The themes of the paintings are very close to the film. It flows through all my pictures and the figures immerged in the water element mirror all of it's life expressions: birth, desire, pain or even death. It’s a journey through water of a young boy who jumps into the water in Germany and comes up here in İstanbul in the Bosporus as a young man. So it’s a journey of the development of a young man. The film is about puberty. It's located between an incredible sense of excitement and a sense of mourning that childhood is slipping away. "

The process of the preparation of the film included many interesting discoveries for Mammel himself. “It was a surprise for me that when I started to work on the story of this film I found the key that the material was lying deep in my background,” says Mammel. “It was all there. At first, I only thought of depicting the development of a young boy into a man. Later I understood that it was an encounter with myself as a young boy, back in my childhood. You have these warm feelings having flashbacks of your childhood, your mother, father and brother. And you feel the cold when you jump into the water, coming to a new country. It’s a further development and it’s a shock of losing your childhood.”

“He’s going back to himself,” says Mammel while describing the journey in the film. “That’s the philosophy. Be open with other cultures, go out in the world but you always need to go back to yourself and you understand more about yourself when you’re alone,” he says. “You can travel anywhere, but you still have carry one's own baggage, your own stories, your background. It’s important to find own's story and own's voice.”

The film and the paintings in general reflect Mammel’s own story and his own personal journey, which is also full of happiness, sorrow and shock.   "At the end of the film, when you enter the hamam , it’s a kind of self-baptism ” Mammel explains. “You are alone at the end. My father was alone at the end . When he died he was alone. You’re born alone and you'll die alone, inbetween it's life."

Mammel dedicated the film to his father and to Walter Reinert, a close friend of his from Switzerland who encouraged him to make the film. “He died one year before we finished the film,” Mammel says. “ Dieter, he said to me, your paintings look like they’re in motion, that they’re still wet. Let them flow together to a movie , to a story. You’re a storyteller."

Despite all the difficulties and bad luck in the beginning, Mammel is happy about the result. “I met the right people at the right time making this film,” he says, “and it’s fantastic to have these moments. This is life! Life is when your get a friend at the same time when you lose a beloved person." 

today's zaman, june 2010