What can you tell us about your art?
I think only others can talk about my art. I can only tell you what I’m trying to accomplish with my “art”. Basically, I’m trying to spread and make contact… By using instruments that I find influential (materials, methods, techniques) I cut, bend, sculpt the things that come my way, the things I come across, the things I find worthy of sharing, and turn them into “things”. Sometimes I have something in mind from the beginning, other times I stumble upon that “thing” which has been waiting to be discovered. I feel that deep down every “thing” is in contact with another, despite all the obligations and compulsions of life, and I try to make active my existence within the limits of my potential. It’s true that I feel like a sand grain in the sea, however I don’t underestimate my existence; I vibrate as much as I can, I try to create a field of action. With regards to potential; I think it’s an undefined variable as well, because with time I change, and create as a different person in each time frame. Everyday, I turn into a person who has lived one more day. What I’ve created yesterday is there to see, but what I’m going to create tomorrow is yet uncertain. I swallow with great curiosity and excitement everything with which I can establish a sincere connection without getting caught by the ambiguous reality of the current age, and that what I can digest ends up being a part of my work. I also need that the “things” I create are “beautiful and positive”, because I think the distinctive characteristic of mankind is its ability to create and feel affection for beauty. I know that this kind of approach, though considered delicate and naïve by some, possesses a significant ability to live. Otherwise, in this system that is based to such a high extent on power, this nucleus would be long gone. Imagine an eggshell, hitting a wall and shattering every single day, yet it renews itself every time and faces the wall again the next day. I prefer to be on the side of the eggshell instead of the side of the wall.
Your artistic style draws viewers into fairy-tale-like stories. How does your creative process begin? What are your influences?
In the depths of even the most arrogant, most armored person there is a place where he/she is just himself/herself. Most of the time these negative behaviors are the result of our fears anyway. We think not about who we are, but who we couldn’t be, and thus –are forced to– live with the resulting feelings of deprivation and shame. We all want to have magnificent bodies, clothes, homes, cars, jobs, loves, partners and children, yet we’re never satisfied. We’re like mountain climbers, who are about the reach a peak, yet we keep skidding and falling down. In this regard, we’re like cartoon characters in a loop.
With a fairy-tale-like narrative, I want to draw viewers away from this struggle to be perfect. I try to create an atmosphere into which they can step in, leaving the ordinary reality behind. It’s a place where they can feel sincerely happy and be “whole” to the extent it is possible. And the closer I get to myself, the larger this space becomes… I invite viewers into my imagination to create their own spaces. The character Mireille came into being in the process of depicting figures. She has the same haircut I had as a child, she has a plump body like my grandma, yet the way she moves is unexpectedly light; she has various moods, yearnings and curiosities; and she somehow popped into existence by herself. She’s unique with her flaws, it’s why she’s convincing even though she is a product of imagination. Other characters, forms and content that surface like Mirelle take their forms through the situations, emotions, people, events and states I encounter in my life, whether consciously or intuitively.
I’m a curious person, I walk quite often and I poke my nose into everything that looks interesting. This results in discoveries and new adventures. I visit all kinds of stores; stores that sell glassware, notions, hardware, grocery, heavy machines, spare parts, second-hand, fabric, paper and dollar stores… I think about the things I can do with materials which weren’t intended to be artistic materials. And if it’s a lucky day, I find good things. I return to the studio with all kinds of unrelated bits and pieces. Sometimes I use the materials right away, other times they wait in a corner for many years for the right kind of project.
Over the last three years, my interest in literature and movies has subsided. My interests have shifted towards popular science. If you’re living in a city, there’s no way to escape from the popular agenda and reality – as the parody we call daily reality keeps popping up everywhere like a screen saver, an intense amount of corruption and wearing-down takes place in the background. This process is not specific to Turkey, it’s wide-spread on every corner of the world. It results from the efforts of the already-collapsed economy to hold on and it feeds off the chaos, fear and desperation created by the political structures which are already behind the times. Still, plenty of good things happen in the world as well. In Cuba, as a result of a 50-year collaboration between the citizens and the state, they are making a revolutionary advancements in medicine; they are developing vaccines against many types of cancer independent of the global medicine industry and establishing pioneering schools on medicine. In other parts of the world independent institutions are established which offer an alternative path to the monopolization of agriculture.
Alternatives to fossil fuels are sought with the help of large-scale investments on renewable energy sources and they are making these sources already available for daily use. Great strides are made in the field of physics through multi-national experiments, though the results aren’t yet to be seen in our daily lives. Despite the fact that the World Wide Web has been wide-spread for only twenty years, a brand new era, in which information is shared freely, has already begun. All these developments point out that another world is possible. I’m telling all these things, because I need information in order to proceed with my work. Thanks to this information, I see that the world has a side which wants to get better and works towards it, which makes my feeling of loneliness to go away.
Let’s talk about what you are up to these days. Do you have an upcoming show?
Recently, at the beginning of April, I participated in the residency program of Maquis Project and held a show entitled “Sugar Cube” on May 6th. I’d like to elaborate a bit on that show and the process that lead to it. Maquis Project is a non-profit artist residency that first began in London. It’s been held in Izmir for three years; it hosts about 8-10 artists each year and holds their shows. In May, when explosions were taking place in Istanbul and Turkey in an effort for the public to get used to terror attacks, which had left me exhausted and wondering how to go on with my life, I traveled to Izmir. After spending three weeks there, I could finally calm down and reach a peaceful state in which I could hear my inner voice. I had brought with me a huge black cloud as I first arrived from Istanbul, but during my stay in Izmir that cloud began to dissipate and let the sunlight through. Before the journey I was in a tachycardic state, I didn’t know how to proceed as I was afraid that something could happen at any moment. I kept saying to myself that I should focus on the big picture, but it would be through the smaller pieces that I would arrive at this big picture. I finally arrived at the logical conclusion that my only possession is the present moment and the decision of how I would spend it. In preparing for the show, I kept thinking about this, and all the works reflect this mood. During this residency period I went for walks almost everyday. With Tom Keogh, the owner of Maquis, we visited the flea market, went sightseeing around the city, talked about gardening, popular science and art history. With Ali Kemal Erten, the other partner of Maquis, we exchanged ideas about the art scene in Turkey, archeology and cooking. I had the opportunity to experiment with sewing and using it to combine pieces of paper. I made installations by using paper and thread within the drawers of a bed frame which I bought at the flea market. I tried combining found objects with my small sculptures. In my works I utilized texts which I either wrote or collected. In other words, I had the opportunity to try out many ideas. Previous three shows represent a period in my creative process and this last show marks the end of that period. Gallery shows are of course important, however I need to add a lot to my experience and knowledge in order to make consistent progress. I went to Maquis to break the cycle of gallery shows, and I’m pleased with the results. For my future work I want to feed off other sources in addition to my gallery shows.
Meanwhile I’m excited to have begun a project concerning public space. We’re working on a project which aims to bring art into hospitals and especially child clinics, transforming these spaces so that people can have a more positive and pleasant experience in them. It began with a request from a friend who is a doctor. As someone, who has always ran away from hospitals right after recovery, I remembered the periods I spent in hospital, either as a patient in my childhood, or as a companion to individuals from my family, and I felt a responsibility. As an artist who needs and seeks to make contact, I think one of the most direct and healing ways of establishing contact with people outside art institutions would be through these spaces. I hope to be able to provide more information soon, as the project progresses.