KT: How did you get into photography?
GMT: I was about 15 years old when I first started taking photographs. My father handed over his Olympus OM-1 camera and to me, it’s still the material representation of his love towards me as he used to take my photos in my early childhood with that same camera. I always had a special love for visual self-expression, but it was predominantly drawing up until puberty.
Later, as I was growing up, I gave up on drawing and unconsciously needed another kind of visual tool to let me express my thoughts and feelings. I should also say that I was the kind of kid who was shy, quiet and introvert, but much more was going on underneath. So, since the beginning, photography has given me the opportunity to showcase my God-given talent in different ways. It’s like emerging in another world of my own and bringing something back to the surface.
So I kept taking photos for 3-4 years just for my sake until I realized I should quit my physics and chemistry studies at the University in Paris and get my other passion, photography, and more seriously. I remember daydreaming about creating visual scenes, so I instinctively knew what path to follow. I believe photography has the key to my success in life.
KT: You have made some really special hand-made and powerful artist books – ‘Pay Here’ and ‘Full Contact Extended’. What do you like about the medium of photography in book format?
GMT: It’s always fulfilling to hear that I was able to “touch” people with my works and photobooks, but I must mention the precious collaborators for the books you mentioned, so I would like to name Mustafa Ercan Zırh (Pay Here) and Frederic Lezmi during the first Book Lab (Full Contact Extended).
What I find interesting about displaying photographs in the book format is that it’s a very particular medium one can explore. You can touch it, stain it, most likely bend it and view it in (almost) any circumstance you want — on your own, in a crowd, indoors, outdoors, in bed, in the public transports, in the toilet, on a desk, on the floor. It allows the viewer to control and customize to some degree his or her viewing experience. On the one hand, as an artist, I like to share the control I have over my work with the viewer on purpose. On the other, as a “visual narrator,” I sincerely enjoy the freedom — and restrictions — it offers in regards to the process of combining and building my visual sentences into paragraphs, anecdotes, remarks or stories… Moreover, it has less time and space based restrictions than an exhibition, provides a more lasting experience, is more accessible and affordable in general, and fulfills the need of “owning.”
KT: You are one of the upcoming voices within Turkish photography scene. What are views on the uprise of photobooks from your part of the world?
GMT: I can gladly say that the interest in the production, exhibition, selling and acquisition of photo books has also been soaring in Turkey in the last 4-5 years. This is not only true in regards to picture books, but also for artists’ books, zines, and multiples. And there are now university courses specialized in photo books (and instructors with enough experience about them). Various workshops about photo book making, editing, or binding, exhibitions, stands during art fairs, specialty bookstores, self or independent publishers, collectives for the sale and distribution and even a photobook festival which happened for the second time in April. It is exciting and inspiring to see many beautiful works produced locally and international by fellow artists and photographers on such occasions. There is still a lot of knowledge and experience that we need to spread and share among those who are interested, but I believe the process of producing a photo book is much more accessible than before for someone who decides to create, but don’t know how.
Moreover, it is possible that the abundance of a photo book and dummy awards, exhibitions and fairs throughout the world makes it more attractive as the channels of exchange are wider, the circulation is rapid, and the logistics are relatively simple.
KT: What do you plan on doing with the photos of ‘Now You See Me’ ?
GMT: First, I plan on producing the continuation shots of “Now You See Me” series. When the series itself feels completed, I may consider presenting it in a medium that is different from the editioned photo prints. On the contrary, the “Wish Tree” series, produced roughly during the same time as “Now You See Me,” felt like belonging into a photo book format right from the beginning. But due to certain circumstances, I first created the editioned photo prints. It’s now time to refer to “Wish Tree’s” very first photo-book dummy experiment and see what it becomes.
KT: What did you hope to resolve by taking self-portraits?
GMT: Self-portraits are usually a crucial element of each of my photography series, which evolved from basic self-expression, exploration of my sexuality and identity to confrontation with the viewer and recently to role-playing opportunities. Simultaneously, they underline that the work is the result of my experience and its subjectivity, positioning the works away from the traditional documentary approach and allowing for a kind of personal documentary.
As I believe the act of taking and displaying photographs is, in most cases, similar to laying out the dirty laundry. In Japanese photographer Araki’s words: “Well, it’s a tricky occupation. After all, what you’re doing is betraying people by releasing the shutter. You are. It’s not all like this, but this certainly is one side of the photographer’s job.” I am driven by the will to use this power of representation carefully to revert this hierarchy by laying out my dirty laundry at the same time; a will carried out mostly by taking self-portraits.