The Scream Q & A session
Q. The series takes its title from Edvard Munch’s work The Scream ?
A. Yes, you could say it reflects a similar moment of existentialist angst that Munch described in his diary and a later poem, and as it came to be expressed in his iconic work of the same name.
Q. And what in particular led you to this moment of awareness?
A. In my case I was taking the historical tram that runs along Istanbul’s main pedestrian avenue, İstiklal Caddesi. I was with my sister, it was her birthday. It was a cold rainy day in January and the windows of the tram were fogged up from the breath and heat of the riders and speckled with rain. The lights, the shops, the streetscape struck me at once as both otherworldy, strange, alien; but also at the same time as very beautiful, abstract and impressionistic. This hovering between dystopia and utopia I found fascinating and started photographing the street through the foggy rainy windows.
Q. So you ended up with a series of photographs taken over a very short period of time, some seven minutes I think, which although real, look like abstract or impressionist paintings.
A. As you know from most of my work this play between the real and the unreal, between utopia and dystopia is a recurring theme. In the series The Scream it takes on an existentialist tone. Real photographs – exactly as they came from the camera, un-cropped, un-photoshopped – became painterly works questioning the nature of reality and time, and in their often lurid colors and strangeness harking back both to Munch’s Scream and to Sartre’s Nausea, where an ordinary scene or an ordinary object suddenly becomes extraordinary – frightening maybe or more intensely beautiful.
Q. You mentioned Sartre’s Nausea and indeed the titles of the photos are all quotes from his book.
A. Yes all the titles are from Nausea and also include the exact time as captured by the camera that each photograph was taken.
Q. What was your intention in including the exact date and time in the titles – resulting in very long, one could say, unwieldy titles.
A. Time is an important part of each piece as it shows how just a second or two means a new reality – a new photograph, a new piece of art. Time, by which I mean the subjective experience of time, is also an important part of the series and reflects Sartre’s and Munch’s realization of the relativity of time and also the relativity and subjectivity of reality.
Q. The connection with Sartre’s Nausea led your series of photographs in a new direction. I’m talking of course about the series of sculptures that forms part of the exhibition with the photographs. Explain how this happened.
A. By rereading Nausea, which I did to find titles for the photographs, I came to realize the importance of objects in-themselves, so I wanted to include some objects as part of the exhibition – statues if you will. These statues are just ordinary objects mentioned in the first few pages of Nausea – a pipe, a glass and so on. But by making them in gold and giving them a slightly melted look – I wanted to highlight their inherent extraordinariness and beauty and strangeness.
Q. Also perhaps as an architect there is the desire to fill up the space with something three-dimensional as well?
A. This seems to be happening more with my work. The last few series have all included objects or floor patterns in addition to the works on the walls. I find it engages me more with the work and seems to produce a more complete, for me, desired result.