In Conversation with Zeynep Kaynar
Looking at the beginning of your career as an artist, how did you get started on your artistic journey?
I have always been quite eager to communicate visually, although I attempted to study computer science professionally. My intention was to become a game designer at the beginning, but I ended up doing studio practice because it seemed more relevant to my personality. It must be somehow a comfort-zone since I spent most of my time at the local artist studio while growing up.
I have always enjoyed the creative process in the studio environment more than I did on the virtual.
In 2018, you have participated in the residency Thematic Residencies: Rural Tendencies Tested, Im de Ruimte and Re(union) Lisbon in Ghent, Belgium. Can you talk a bit about this experience. How did it make a contribution to your practice?
It was transcending, really. I never had tried using my body for communicating visually in the professional matter. At the residency, all of the participants were performance artists. So, it ended up being an opportunity for me to discover and find out about performance art by participating in the workshops and rehearsals. Of course, it was just a starting point to become curious about performance art through practice. I appreciate Cuerpos Limites project (Sofie Dubs, Fabio Bergamaschi) and other participants for helping me discover and grow.
In your artist statement, you describe your practice as investigating the methodology of problem solving through artistic production, how to create an image of solution through artistic endeavour. Can you tell us more about this questioning? How do you experiment on creating an image of solution through artistic endeavour?
I was once told that artists, unlike designers, create their own creative problems. I find this statement quite valuable, and I believe in it.
Visual artists are entitled to pursue any subject matter or methodology to point out the message that they want to transfer or communicate through artistic production. Therefore, through my artistic practice, I attempt to convey issues that may require asking questions as in analytical problem solving. Through the creative process, sometimes I attempt to point out answers, solutions, and I try to keep them relevant to the audience.
Currently you’re working on Sleeping as a Performative Process, a project you created under the influence of performance art. In what ways it relates to performance art? What ideas are you aiming to explore in this work?
After we worked together with Sofie (Dubs) and Fabio (Bergamaschi), it occurred to me that my own body is in constant communication with me, but I did not know how to read it correctly. Working with them made me aware of this phenomenon, and a reccurring pattern for wanting to sleep in psychologically challenging situations was what inspired me starting to research this. As in physical weariness, I consider sleeping as a form of rest from thinking even though the brain does not stop working. Therefore, I take sleeping as a part of the daily performative process and record my dreams, physical activity while sleeping.
Through these inputs, I try to come up with an alphabet to communicate on how mind and body perform during the sleeping state. The subconscious, dream and mind are highly charged topics in both neuroscience and psychology community. Still, as a visual artist, I try to read visuals that my body and brain produce along the process. It is pretty much how I define my part as an artist to support the scientific community. As I develop this alphabet bigger, I intend to collaborate with other professionals of interest to see whether if this can be something.
Is there any recurring theme/question in your practice?
I am pretty consistent with the keywords: sea, fish and water deities, which are water bodies and water-related mythology. I worked on a variety of pieces such as Amorfi (Kolimban) and rest of the work shown at my solo exhibition Ebb and Flow. The exhibition was followed the sea bass (in this case, Amorfi) migration route in Turkey, starting from Black Sea Region, Marmara and ends up in the Mediterranean, representing the things that sea basses may observe along the way. Also, I create most of my work, thinking them as visual researches. In most cases, photography has been a raw material that has to be altered, shifted until I am happy about the visual results. My photographic work described as such by a fellow colleague Örsan (Karakuş), which I had never realized about my work before.
You’ve exhibited a selected works in the exhibition Bring Your Water, at Rem Art Space last summer. For this series, you investigated on alternative forms of beauty through the make up industry. How was the research process of the project?
Honestly, I am a sucker for makeup videos although I don’t do makeup, I end up watching and knowing products by heart. I never understood why watching them was appealing to me, and this has been a question for the motive to make research on beauty.
I produced the works at the show even before I happened to realize what was intriguing me, but it was time that my husband moved out to replace to Finland. He was sending me flowers every week for a while to make me feel less lonely and surprise me even though he could not visit me for a while. Seeing Lee Friedlander’s book Stem motivated me to take photographs, and I was taking photos of them while they were rotting.
Meanwhile, I came across Byung Chul Han, a cultural philosopher contemplates on beauty, and aesthetics through the negativity and suggests that aesthetics of disaster may lead to deeper layers of beauty. The duality of this philosophy reconciles beauty as being contemplative rather than being a commodity.
Thinking that makeup is an instant transformation, it has somewhat more significant meaning today: It has a strong economic representation as potato had back in the 1960s. It is the representation of commodification of beauty, yet again. I wanted to do something slightly leaning to abstract, but still represents the beauty of nature and the sense of beauty outside the commodity aesthetics.
Technically, why’d you prefer to use scanography in this series?
I attempt to destruct images of natural beauty using scanography method of photography to create abstract and fragmented images. Scanography enables the image, destruction and fragmentation co-exist together in one photograph due to technical abilities.
Do you collect any objects as an artist?
We share a collection of artworks together with my husband of drawings, paintings, art books and photobook which some of artists I personally know and some we met through their work. Furthermore, I collect daily objects, photographs and images as a resource for my own practice.
You recently relocated from Istanbul, Turkey to Finland. What motivated you to make the move? What has been the biggest adjustment for you after moving there?
It was rather a long-term plan for me to move abroad since the end of my undergraduate. But then, other opportunities came along in Istanbul, and I postponed it every year more than 4 years, up until my husband replaced to Finland due to his profession and academic research. We live in the suburbs, which to me was a big adjustment since I had been living in the downtown of the city with more than 20 million people. It is rather new for me, but I am happy being in a calm, pastoral environment. I walk a lot in the forest and walking has always helped me thinking, meditating.
What’s the piece of advice/constructive criticism that you feel you will never forget?
“Artworks are objects, which do (mimic) striptease: As you look at them, some may unravel things you do not expect them to through the layers, and this is when it becomes a pleasant experience seeing it rather than just looking at it. “
Who inspires you?
I am inspired by abstract art lately, although David Hockney will be my eternal inspiration. Although most of my selected works are photographic ones, I am mostly influenced by painters like Jorinde Voigt, Hayal Pozanti. Recently, I have met with Lasse Juuti and Jurgis Tarabilda both young, but super inspiring people.
You have recently started making ceramic pieces. How did you start working in this medium? What do you enjoy about it?
I have metal and glass sculptures in my portfolio, but ceramic was something I had never tried although, I worked with ceramics before while I was assisting Lynn (Chriswell).
In my home studio, I do not really have resources to work on sculpture, and this is something I do mostly in artist residencies now. But at some point, I wanted to remind myself of the process for 3D object production. Through working with Yasemin(Özcan), I made good friendships and learned ceramics more in detail.
Can you talk about your upcoming projects?
Currently, I am focusing on painting and drawing with Sleeping as a Performative Process although I continue inquiring the subject matter beauty in my photographic works.