Category Archives: blog

Sunday Picnic Anyone?

Often we look at photographs and move onto the next one like hungry ants on an unusually warm early spring Sunday picnic.  Thats what I did with the eye-catching book cover of the Prix Pictet Prize 2009 with the theme Earth.

The lead image of the “Chongqing IV (Sunday Picnic)” by Nadav Kander, at first glance,  shows a group of youths enjoying a picnic at the banks of Yangtze River.  There are two tables: bigger table with one young man with three young women facing him and one smaller table with another young man looking directly at the camera.  He sits further away from the group and does not interact with the others.  There is also a boat with an older man facing the camera and further boats out in the distance.

The scene is towered by cylinders forming the base of a highway.  This structure can be followed all the way into the hazy distant pseudo-horizon.

The photographer describes that he used the river as a metaphor for constant change.  The 6500km long river has one in eighteen of the world’s population living along its bank.   Kander states that China “is a nation severing its roots, by destroying its past in the wake of the sheer force of moving forward at such an astounding and unnatural pace”.

With this background information about the series this work belongs to, I feel the essence of the photograph for me is the contrast between the body language of the two main male characters.  One is accepted and engaged by his peers and the other seemingly alienated. This acts as a metaphor of people’s attitudes to a rapidly changing culture and the battle between “moving forward” and losing one’s identity and values in the process.

While I was in Paris, I’ve seen another photograph that I believed was by the same photographer.  Little did I know that the photographer and the river photographed were different.  Kechun Zhang’s The Yellow River featured in the Photoquai exhibition also uses contrasting scenes of beautiful nature and the harsh human influences over it to highlight the dark side of booming China.

Sunday Picnic

 

 

“Elective Eve”: William Eggleston

In a day, actually two days spent in Tate Modern, it is surprising that I was most intrigued by a print that did not scream the loudest in the room, despite the photographer: William Eggleston, is regarded as the revolutionary figure in using coloured prints from a fine arts perspective.  There were no over saturated or super-textural surfaces.  Also it is surprising that I was excited about a print that did not feature a person or any living thing for that matter.

The photograph is of an empty American diner with a colour-blocked wall of mint green and buttermilk yellow, interrupted with two decorations of plastic flowers and vegetables including an intensely red cherry tomato. There is a feeling of abandonment in a way that resembles a cliché of an old woman left at the altar 30 years ago that still wears her broken and tarnished wedding dress. The wall is further interrupted with an illuminated sign of green and white with the only visible text being “3”.

There are two tables with lacquered surfaces coloured white and grey that holds an ashtray, tooth picks placed inside a very small bottle, metal napkin holder, salt and pepper.

The arrangements of these differ on both tables as well as the chair combinations around it.  Each chair is of different material and colour, some repaired with silver coloured duck tape that adds onto the feeling of decay through disuse.  It feels ironic that the photograph was taken in 1976, at an era where diversity and equal opportunities were not seen as paramount, that each chair around one table is completely different.

The whole frame is almost equally in focus. The angle of the tables forms a natural lead-in-line that leads to no specific focus. This makes me regard the cliché abandoned old lady again and her hopeless cling onto hope that he will one day return after realising his mistake.

When this single image is placed together with other pieces from the “Elective Eve”, the feeling of abandonment increases.  The series feature pieces such as a rusty gasoline stand with no cars around, empty long roads and an oxidised metallic shed that is overgrown with vegetation. The series also allows the viewer to know that it was taken during the campaign period of Jimmy Carter- “let’s elect Jimmy Carter president” as stated by a car bumper. Eggleston was commissioned by the Rolling Stone magazine to photograph the state of Georgia before the election of Jimmy Carter.  Caldecot Chubb as their first book of original photographs, published this later.

Jimmy Carter was the 39th president of the USA and was elected on 2nd November 1976.  He left his mark in the American history with his work with the creation of Department of Energy and brought stricter regulations on nuclear energy plants following the  “Three Mile Island” accident in 1979. This may be a clue why these photographs feature in Energy and Processes Exhibition.

As the gallery leaflet states, Energy and Processes wing focuses on the Arte Povera movement of the 1960’s Italy and its reflections around the world.  This term was first used by the critic Germano Celant in 1967 and described a movement that tried to glue together the world of art with everyday life.  These pieces are characterised by juxtapositions of items that at first seem unrelated. It is not unthinkable at all that Eggleston is featured there as he describes his genre as “life today” and often his compositions are bold, striking and of very generic items such as cracked ceilings. The remainder of gallery features other artists showcasing sculptures using metal, glass and wood, collages and video. At first this reminded me of an exhibition in the Welcome Trust “Outsider Art from Japan” due to use of techniques such as quilting and objects that are readily available, however this is very much like saying that some work featured in an art gallery resembles Monet just because oil paints were used.

The room featuring Eggleston is large in size and only shows his work, keeping photography completely separate from the other mediums used. This is a good indication of the importance of his work in relation to the Arte Povera movement and art of this era.  His work stands out in the gallery due to it being presented in a simple black frame with white mounting.  This acts to visually saturate the colour a little more and strengthen the compositions.  It would have been very misfortunate not to display the work in this manner when impressive colour use is what he is most renowned for.

All photographs are by William Eggleston as part of “Elective Eve” series.

 

resISTanbul

Destruction, air pollution and government policies… Where do you stand or are you taking a nap?

European Environment Agency (EEA) has announced in their Air Quality in Europe 2013 report that 90% of the urban population within the European Union is exposed to one of the most damaging air pollutants and that the levels in which that damage can be caused to our health is lower than once it was believed.

Turkey is still not in the EU, however the finding of the EEA’s report still applies to the country I was born in.  Furthermore in 2012 The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) concluded that the level of air pollution was one of the highest out of the 36 countries that took part in the Better Life Index.

What does not make sense is the fact that compulsory “environmental impact assessments” for new projects had their rules changed.  For instance, an area that would have been defined as a forest previously is now considered “not forest” or it can be classified under the new heading of forests that won’t benefit from protection.

Environmental policies were one of the reasons why thousands of people were protesting during the Istanbul Riots in May/June 2013 including myself.  The GP-5 Soviet Russian Gas Mask in these photographs was not the one I have used to protect my respiratory system but an eBay purchase to be used in this photo-shoot inspired by the events.

Aurélie

She couldn’t tell if it was a desire or a need.  She didn’t know if she needed to celebrate this side of her or blame her parents.  Who was she to blame and whom would she blame, the one that incestually took away her dandelion innocence or the one who taught her to use lust as a tool, as a beacon of power?

She had dinner alone every night at the Le Tire Bouchon.  She was alone in her mind, but never at her table.  She would be coy and avoid eye contact because she knew that that’s what they wanted, to let them believe they were the predator and not the prey.

And now you sleep…

Mathias Sleeping

You will sleep but forever be awake.

I send you away, far away from me but this is the only way.

Like a child telling their mother lies, I can see right through them.

I can see that you changed your mind.

The painting you did on that water surface

can’t hide what you painted first.

Don’t be afraid, as there won’t be anything worse than what you can imagine.

Close your eyes.

Bitter- sweet slumber

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I WAS BORN GREEN

 


I was born green

I was born green,

Representing fertility, demonstrating youth and promising happiness.

I often felt lacking, finding myself explain what I was and who I was.

I felt the need to paint my flowers brighter and remove the ones that I didn’t think were desirable.

I was green.

I was jealous, jealous of those who just were.

I insidiously became a different shade of green.  Became envious, envious of those that flowered brighter and envious of those that had no flowers but stood proudly.

The shame of desiring excessively to be accepted, loved and adored turned me red.  Slowly but readily changed me.

I turned harder after accepting that I wasn’t my potential or what everyone thought I represented.

With each self-acceptance I drew new hard-edged lines that consumed me and took away my colours.

I felt liberated as more saw me as I’ve always felt- lacking vibrance, eaten away, consumed, hanging on with the threat of falling.

I am free now, free without the shackle of expectations and free to fall.

The Ugly Pretty, The Pretty Ugly and Everything in between

 

Lidya-2

Lidya

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are we obsessed with the word PRETTY? Am I pretty? Is she pretty?  Is he pretty?  Is it pretty? Are we all pretty?

Pretty… Pretty…Pretty…

The more I type the word pretty, the more it feels like I misspelled it, but my trusted spellcheck would tell me if I had.

During my extended Turkish summer I learnt a new game called “Güzellik mi Çirkinlik mi?” which translates roughly as Beauty or Ugliness.  My father explained how the game worked, and I know you may think it is weird to learn this from your father at the age of 27 but in my defence one of our key players was my 4-year-old niece Lidya.

The rules were easy: if you are chosen to go first, you decide to either ask to see everyone do a “pretty” face or an “ugly” one.  Then you choose the person that you think embodied the expression the best, and then it is their turn to either make everyone pretty or ugly.

I really doubt that guidance counselors or child psychologists would recommend this game, but to be honest playing it with someone so young and less exposed to media and social norms was very revealing.

We form an idea of what is attractive and what is not very early on, and these ideas are very resistant to time and age. The 56-year-old granddad, the 27-year-old uncle, the 4-year-old girl and any other willing souls, all pulled similar expressions.

I still think that I had the ugliest face in the game but that will never ever be published on this blog (also my camera-phobic family would not take the photo).

Then again, never say never.

Kyiru’s Voyage

Hello my confidant.  It has happened again and I don’t know who else to tell. It appears that you are the only one that will believe me or even listen in the first place.  Again it was in the middle of my rest period that I found myself there, the location that I can‘t describe more accurately than “that world”.

Penetrated Rhombus

Girl in a box

It is the third time in this lunar cycle that I floated from my slumber to a place that lacks colour. This time I passively and reluctantly moved down a metallic sliding platform that penetrated a rhombus.  There was someone else in front of me and as he moved into the rhombus, I saw someone else come out of it.

I came across a girl that was stuck inside a box.  She sat at the edge of it, motionless apart from her hands, focusing on a small trinket that was transmitting visions and sounds.  From time to time she gazed to a white domed palace with a certain longing.  I believed that she was entrapped there and her person of interest was in the palace trying to communicate through her trinket.

Triangulated pigeonDead tree squaresI walked out of the invisible doors and saw a creature that reminded me of the pests that hide in our homes.  It hopped towards me as I reached out and travelled through the air, lacking grace or charm.  It flew past a most bizarre structure of interlinked squares of dead trees that reached nowhere.  I did not understand its function or what the two women on top of it were doing.

Kyiru

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Metal City

 

 

I followed the direction of the thick strand of liquid with its never-ending motion towards a cold metallic structure.  My eyes instinctively travelled up to reveal the first letter of my name, Kyiru…  Could this be a coincidence or was there a higher power taking me there?  With this question that made me half scared and half excited, I glanced back over the metal lines uncovering the glass city where I woke up in and continued forward.

I continued forward through a dark tunnel resembling the metal platform that brought me there. The darkness was interrupted regularly with light sources, revealing interlinked squares and triangles.  I was taken aback when I noticed a glowing globe hanging at the edge of the tunnel exit.  What further surprised me was that there was someone inside a globe appearing larger and larger with small movements of his legs until he vanished and appeared in front of me.  The only logical explanation that I have is he travelled through the globe portal and that he is very used to this mode of transport, hence his lack of expression in response to my perplexed face.

 

Tunnel

Globe traveller

Hard water

 

Another curious fact was the abundance of water.  Apart from that giant moving strand, I could feel some on my face.  It was as if the water was able to fly but only in one direction.  Also something that would really impress the alchemists back home is that I’ve seen a see-thorough rock slowly turn into water. This rock had a symbol on it and it felt very very cold.

 

Like the vertically flying water, I too moved in one direction.  I don’t know why I chose to follow this route but it lead me into a building whose grandiosity suggested that it was a palace lacking security guards or any other means of selecting who is worthy to enter it.  The large groups of people moving independently like stray pockets of magic pushed me through a small gate.  My curiosity took the best of me and I jumped into a moving roofed metallic platform with circular feet that spun. It moved along a bed of metal lines that seemed to go on endlessly and was only interrupted in very short intervals by smaller lines perpendicular to it.

Lines

 

The inside of this roofed platform was spacious and was populated with cushioned seats.  Behind me I heard voices speaking in another tongue, and through the little crevice between the seats I started watching them.  Although it was the first time that I had seen them during that voyage, I could not shake off the feeling that we had met before.  As I tried to remember when I had encountered this man with the wavy hair, crinkled skin and velvet voice, he looked at me with his gentle eyes and once again I found myself back in my small humble lodgings, back in “my world”, yet another time.

 

I knew him

Cushions

 

André Kertész: Truth and Distortion

“Everybody can look, but they don’t necessarily see” are the words uttered by André Kertész, a Hungarian born 20th century photographer famed by his photojournalistic style of framing, “ I see a situation and I know that it’s right”.

 

The 1894 born Kertész bought his first camera in 1912 and took photographs whilst working as a clerk in the Budapest stock exchange, a profession that he was brought into by the father figure in his life; his uncle.  It was his move to Paris in 1925 that took his career to the next level. After gaining commercial success, he moved to the United States in 1936 to escape the dangers of pre WW2 Europe.

 

Although never feeling accepted by the art critics and audiences, he is considered to be one of the key figures in photojournalism.

 

The exhibition held in Atlas Gallery, London between 11 April and 25 May 2013 display master prints from a private collection and is organised over two storeys.  The ground floor holds his “Truth” from Paris and New York, and the lower ground displaying pieces from his distortion series- part of his commissioned work in 1933 for two models: Najinskaya Verackhatz and Nadia Kasine.

 

One of the images that I felt a connection with was “Exterieur immeuble”, an outdoor image taken at time of the day where harsh crisp shadows are juxtaposed on a concrete staircase.  The shadows form an alternative structure, making it almost impossible to distinguish which is trickery of light and which is tangible reality. This reminded me of my own piece titled “ Shadowing you”.  Kertész did die before I was born, so perhaps we had a secret meeting between worlds.

 

His distortion series makes the viewer admire the newfound surrealistic shapes of the female nude.  This period of the photographers work stem from his piece “Underwater swimmer” taken in 1917 featuring, as the title suggests, an underwater swimmer whose body is distorted by the refraction of light.

 

It is fascinating how Kertész’s work influences current generation of photographers and it was refreshing to see the inspiration.  It is almost like watching the original of a remade horror movie in order to understand the whole story.

 

What I really want to do right now is invest on a convex mirror and spend hours in front of it with my camera. Like I said, Kertész did give me some tips.

Margaret- Life and Death

Margaret

 

Margaret Thatcher or otherwise known as “The Iron Lady” is a little bit like marmite, people either loved or hated her.  As part of my photography diploma application I had to photograph for a news article for an UK newspaper on the 13/04/13, between the pages of 2 and 6.  This date happened to coincide to the over-saturation of articles about her and I decided to produce a photograph dedicated to Margaret.

Instead of following politics I prefer trying to see rainbows and look out for unicorns and fairy dust, hence why I did not have a solid opinion of her.  I wanted to portray the reaction of her death as neutral as possible.

The scene may represent a celebration of her life or death.  The vividness of the grass and the blue flowers outlining our protagonist represents new beginnings and life itself where as the over indulged motionless body next to the empty bottles of alcohol represent death.

During this shoot, my model Joel and I were mobbed by curious teenagers and found ourselves explaining what we were trying to do to our hardest critics.

I did get into the college by the way and I am very excited to start on 17th September 2013!