From logician Kurt Gödel to Turkish film and literature: Fatos Ustek on her biggest cultural influences

Fatos Ustek Photo: Christa Holka

If you could live with just one work of art, what would it be?

My answer to this question is ever-changing. I feel with each new exposure to works—not only contemporary but from history—I gain new insights and inspirations. In these days of isolation I like to watch the film Full Firearms (2012) by the British artist Emily Wardill on a loop, due to its mesmerising story-telling; the mystery of an apartment built for ghosts and the phantasmagorical flow of relations between the subjects.

Which cultural experience changed the way you see the world?

This is an ongoing encounter. If I were to go way back to my early years of self-exploration, it was the books I read during my teens. Starting with Turkish literature, my world expanded into different realms with the writings of Ingeborg Bachmann, Susan Sontag, Hermann Hesse, Walter Benjamin, Stefan Zweig and Cesare Pavese. I also remember very vividly the first film festival I went to when I was 16, in Izmir. The short films (that I could not now remember the directors of), pierced me for good, so much so that I acquired a film studies degree alongside my undergraduate degree in mathematics.

Which book most challenged your thinking?

Kurt Gödels Incompleteness Theorems (1931), since he showed that the world is a domain of inexplicable relationships. There is no end and there is no single definition that can hold everything. There is no universal set that does not contain itself, and there are possible cases where a truth and its negative can co-exist in the same system. That is to say, nothing—and most significantly mathematics—is an incomplete domain. I imagine the same holding true for the arts, which is why it fuels my amazement and wonder.

Which writer or poet do you return to the most?

Jorge Luis Borges Labyrinths (1962)and Umberto Ecos How to Travel with a Salmon (1992). The former I read in intervals, the latter I flip through its pages almost on a daily basis. The former fuels my imagination, the latter amuses me with its strong arguments.

What are you watching, listening to or following that you would recommend?

During lockdown I have been frequently listening to podcasts, such as Knowledge Project, Culture Ops, Intelligence Squared, Worklife with Adam Grant, and Tara Brach among others. Music is a wild forest for me; recently I've been listening to Michael Friedman, Masego, Hamza El Din, Max Richter, Goksel, Duckwirth and Nil Karaibrahimgil.

I am also on Instagram more frequently than normal, following the #ArtistSupportPledge and Anne Hardys magical surveys on flora alongside feeds by dear friends including Sigrid Kirk, a co-founder of the Association of Women in the Arts (AWITA) [Ustek is a founding member]; the artist Sophie Anne Wyth; Katy Wick, the founder of the creative consultancy firm KTW London; the Spanish curator and art historian Chus Martinez; and of course AWITA and the Liverpool Biennial [Ustek is the director].

In terms of films, I would recommend BJo Nesbos Headhunters (2011), GuilleRead More – Source