Response to Open Letter

Gözde Mimiko Türkkan
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İpek Çınar wrote a letter to Gözde Türkkan in Update 16. As her right to reply, Türkkan wrote the following letter.


Dearest İpek,

Let me say this first: I have to start this by saying I was really pleased with your letter and I liked it when I first read it despite the months.

Isn't it just my cup of tea? To convey some really private stuff in a public setting to people who I am not really familiar with or who I even don't know...Like producing art and to open it to others' gazes...

Also, it is a nice feeling to know that my effort to tell about myself - which I sometimes find extreme - arouse something in you, somewhere, someone.

I am not sure if I can answer all your questions, but to say the least, and because of the joy or thoughts emerged from what you have written, you hit the right notes. In fact, some of your questions I also asked myself: "Am I sincere in my art practice? How valid is my practice which is based on my own experiences, my own perspective and my body? Is this method, somehow by losing the balance, carry the risk of not serving its original purpose?"

The reason I cannot answer all of your questions is because the answers are not that clear even to me, and in fact there is the possibility of them changing in time. Moreover, I should keep asking these questions to myself so that I don't shift my ground or if I do I do it deliberately.

The least I can say is, I have always found using my body similar to a confession. In fact, in Araki's words who has this photographer-artist-human persona I have always liked: "Well, it's a tricky occupation. After all, what you're doing is betraying people by releasing the shutter. You really are. It's not all like this, but this certainly one side of the photographer's job."

I have different questions and problems on my mind for a while now: Why do we take photos of people we don't know? Even if they allow it how come we find the right to do that in ourselves? Why do we take photographs? Why do we want to show the photos we take to others?

When I am walking on a street to recognize I'm inside someone's frame, and lower my head, how can I expect others to do the opposite? We might have lots of photos - or some representations of ourselves - which we don't even know about their existence or where they would end up. And as someone who is aware of the power of photography and where it could end up in, and when I want to limit some representation of myself, how can I expect from others the opposite?

We can answer those questions in socio-economic, psychoanalytic or anthropological terms, but I feel there is a much more easier answer to that and somehow I cannot quite find it.

Maybe you don't know but starting from my last project and exhibition in 2013, I didn't feel like taking photographs for 1-1,5 years. As I realized those questions and the fact that the methods through which I practice art cease to function with my last project and which you point out so well, absorbed me. Also, I guess, noticing people would not want to see what you termed as "visual hammer" - and in addition, facing off-confrontation which you touched upon so well - broke down the strength of my urge; but this is another matter.

As a result, I have found my inner reconciliation through ignoring the things that lead to my former questions (responsibility? sensibility? respect for other's representations? my own ego?) - so I decided not to resist my inner urges, instead of a conscious conduct.  

When I am writing all to you, and thanks to you, I come to establish new relations in my mind. When I was working on my photography series "I was looking to see if you were looking at me to see me looking back at you" in 2008, I also referred to a quotation from Kohei Yoshiyuki who was secretly watching and taking photos of people making out in parks in 1970s Tokyo: "My intention was to capture what happened in the parks, so I was not a real ‘voyeur' like them. But I think, in a way, the act of taking photographs itself is voyeuristic somehow. So I may be a voyeur, because I am a photographer."

Now I realize that if I want to go on taking photographs and creating a narrative through them, I have to face and admit my peeping-tom side which I recognized years ago. I guess, what helped me with my urge to take photographs on a conscious level must be this last statement.

Thank you: