Interview: Cemre Önertürk

Cemre Önertütk lens-based art Turkey

In conversation with lens-based artist Cemre Önertürk from Turkey.



Can you talk about your journey into or interest the arts? You have a particular interest in photography and lens-based work, where does this stem from?

After certain years of experience, during which I developed multidimensional skills in shooting, editing, and installing, I acknowledged the immense extents of lens-based works for constructing narrative structures. I mainly produce photographs and video works, but the definition steps forth because I like to use the description to emphasise the manipulations made within and in-between them.


Can you talk about the influences upon your work?

I have a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Architecture. It is quite significant to denote because my particular interests derive from architecture in two ways. First, it provides the ‘problematic conditions’ which creates the necessity of producing per se. For instance, one of the photo series ‘Spatium’ was created as a reaction towards the tragic change of the living environment and propounds the indissociable relation of space and body both through literal and conceptual terms. Second, it directly affects the consideration of the display of artworks, which I believe changes the whole narration independent from the platform of the exhibit. I believe that a narration, if there is any, manifests itself through a montage sequence which combines a series of images within the boundaries of a room, a book, or a digital environment.

Even when the content of the work is not directly related to architecture, the impacts of an ‘architectural thinking’ is visible through the constructed/captured space-space or space-body relations. Rather than expressing beautifications of architectural pieces, I make use of the term, and the discipline, as a meta concept which embodies unseen space-body relations in infinite scales.


Your work often looks at the body, self-portraits for instance, what are you exploring through this? There is also a sense of the ‘void’, the ‘in-between’?

I propound that space and body exist in a twofold relation which introduces body as an object of space and also as a spatial construction itself. This twofold condition carries such a potential that in each composition there exists a new architectural state such as a ‘void’ or an ‘in-between’ formation. I like to play with that idea and make experiments through self-portraits that re-presents new space-body conditions/constructions.


Can you talk about your process of working. How do you work, how often, is there a particular pattern?

Although there is not a constant pattern, I believe that there is always a relatively long query period for me on certain topics which proceeds with a dense reading-writing process. Then, a period of production starts and usually I complete the work in a certain period of time without creating long gaps in-between.


Do you find the process of creating work relaxing or therapeutic?

I’ve become increasingly interested in the relationship of the artist to their working patterns and environment.

I cannot think of any other act which is more satisfactory than expressing the ‘stuck’ thoughts and ideas. Moreover, although it can be considered as a total illusion, there is no other possible way that enables an actual freedom in the circle of life. Therefore, I believe it is quite therapeutic on a daily basis, but I also think that it is also stressful on a bigger scale because it always inherits the possibility of a better or a distinct expression which might culminate in a superior state of freedom.

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