Aras Gökten, Untitled from the ‘Arkanum’ series, 2013, 2014
You are the curator of “New Photography II: Medium in New Ways” exhibition. Could you please tell us more about yourself?
I was born in Istanbul in 1989. After I received my bachelor degree on Communication and Design from Bilkent University, I took my master degree on Contemporary Art Practice in Geneva. I specifically became a part of interdisciplinary projects during this process and had the opportunity to exhibit my works by taking part in group exhibitions in various countries for three years. I returned to Istanbul in 2015 and since then I have been mainly working on photography and photography books.
With which ideas as a follow-up exhibition this exhibition came to light? What are the stylistic and contextual differences of this exhibition from the previous one?
New Photography is a follow-up exhibition, however this year’s peculiar subtitle is Medium in New Ways. This title actually reveals the idea of the exhibition. When compared to other mediums, photography is perhaps the newest, the most limitless and the most open one to exploration. As this gives the artist numerous opportunities, it also mystifies an alternative point in the future of photography. Considering this detail as given, we started working with various basic questions that urge us to reconsider the medium and the possibilities; how the artists communicate with the world and deal with today’s problems via photography, is it possible to narrate such issues through alternative ways, how do they associate photography with other mediums, etc. I am lucky that I had the opportunity to bring many artists together who contemplated on such issues and who are enthusiastic about thinking and creating in this context. The works exhibited here offer a possibility, a premise rather than a clear cut answer to these problems.
I suppose I can sum up the differences from the first exhibition as following. The content of the first exhibition was more about visual aesthetic and the possibilities of digital age. Each work was selected from about fifteen or sixteen artists. What I am trying to do is to create a contextual framework on these above-mentioned questions and give a place to a project of an artist whose work I can associate with this context. Unlike the first exhibition, I preferred to comprise four subtitles called “Modern Society Critique”, “New Documentary”, “Analogue Experiences in Digital Age” and “Genre Breaking” as this exhibition’s content. Two or three artists are selected for each category and we included a set of series, each containing approximately five to fifteen photographs since it would not be possible to create a narration with only one photograph from each. We selected fewer artists but showed more works, and I believe by doing so, we enabled the works to explain themselves better.
As the outcome of our meetings with the artists, we tried to create a more subjective exhibition alternative for each project. Exhibition design in Turkey is relatively an overlooked discipline. We are aware of the importance of this. We are collaborating with designer Oner Sakip Dundar in order not to call the analogy between the works of the artists and the exhibition space in question, and we are investigating the ways of adaptation into the exhibition space of a striking, fresh and dynamic approach that I tried to protect when selecting the works.
Öncü Hrant Gültekin, Untitled, Everything Is New Series, 2016
You will be working with the photography artists from all over the world. What did you consider for the selection of artists?
Certainly, the most important criteria is the work’s consistency with the general framework of the exhibition and its ability to communicate with other works. This is a collective exhibition, so it is quite important to create the general coherence though there are differences in the styles and the tones of the works. Before I had the opportunity to see most of the artists’ woks exhibited here at different places in different time and they were sticked to my mind. I had the opportunity to meet some of them personally and I knew that they were thinking and creating about above-mentioned questions and this is an important factor to me.
New Photography II is almost the first Istanbul exhibition of each selected artist. This was especially a delicate issue as I was selecting the local artists. Of course there are artists among particularly young Turkish photographers whose works are worth mentioning, however not included in this exhibition. Their works are more visible at galleries, alternative initiatives and the internet. My preference was to include artists who are just one level outside of this circle. Apart from this, there is a very important artist who did not reject our invitation and whose works, within the bounds of our resources, will be seen in Istanbul for the first time; Rafal Milach. The period I discovered Milach’s works coincides with the period I started to get intimate with photography. During this process, his “In the Car with R” project was quite stimulating for me in terms of exploring the potentials of narration by photography. So, I am also excited to be able to exhibit this project.