Library of
Design, Art and Idea

Erinç Seymen Interview

16.02.2015
Vol. 8

Of the artists who work in the field of Contemporary Art, Erinç Seymen is one of the naive yet pointed names of the 80's generation.

The reason why I have introduced him in this way is undoubtedly his works and his enthusiasm for the continuity of the things on which "he fails to agree with" the life. When looked at his works, what I feel is sometimes a kind of tremor, sometimes a type of interaction which I set up with the part of the identities that I will express as "self", sometimes uncomfortableness, and mostly a heart- searching. "Born in İstanbul in 1980, Seymen graduated from Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts, Department of Painting in 2006 and completed his master degree at Yıldız Technical University, Faculty of Art and Design, writing up a thesis on Bob Flanagan. The artist has mostly focused his attention on militarism, gender identity, social gender, codes of sexual orientation, and nationalism rather than individual subjects. Moreover, He has been attracting a great deal of attention with his articles in such magazines as Siyahi and KAOS GL. Holding solo exhibitions in İstanbul, Helsinki and Eindhoven, the artist has taken part in such group exhibitions as “Along the Gates of Urban” K&S Galerie Berlin (2004); “An Atlas of Events”, Foundation Calouste Gulbenkian Lisbon (2007); “I Myself am War!”, Open Space Vienna (2008); “İstanbul, traversée”, Palais des Beaux Arts de Lille, Lille (2009); “Moods: A Generation in Complete Disorder”, Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts Paris (2010) Saying that he has the aim of sabotaging all kinds of hate speech, transphobia, racist nationalism, class elitism, the artist seems to have succeeded in blending his own style with his works that also reflect the "queer" style within the contemporary art practice ongoing in Turkey. Besides all these, the artist, who defines himself no as a "queer", highlights that his works, not his identity, should come to the forefront, describing Queer as a fellow discipline with feminism that includes not only sexual identity conflicts but also the class struggle. Frequently reflecting the distress experienced in our country out of the hegemony of the masculine perspective in his works and saying that the same proportion nationalistic feelings are hosted in such a country governed in this way, the artist also stated that this idea, in writing the art history as well, actually caused the history of bourgeoisie to be written. Well, why is Erinç Seymen in such a different place for us among the other artists of same generation as him? In my opinion, the reason for this -with his own definition- is hidden in the "extracanonical" soul he has. Having such a soul, I dare say, requires to be intertwined with the music. Expressing the music play a great role in his works, the artist takes place with a "Performance for a Poem" trilogy comprised of the performances scrutinizing such subjects as extreme nationalism and censorship, pressure with sound and visual manipulation that he had performed in three different countries with Slovenian artist duo son:DA in an exhibition named "Plurivocality" which was prepared within the scope of the 10th foundation anniversary of İstanbul Modern, along with the other artists questioning the relationship between the music and the visual arts. Saying that the exhibition will continue to welcome the audience between 27th June and 27th November 2014, we would like to share the interview with you that we’ve made with the artist. We see that the music holds a very significant place in your works. How does music constitute an expression power for you? Music is not the biggest portion of my production but a decisive part of my solo exhibitions. As the other elements of the placement, music is a component that can change the exhibition experience radically as well- when hosting a guest, we know the light and room temperature will change the fate of time we will share with the guest. Furthermore, music is one of the most important inspiration sources for me. Scott Walker was saying that he composed his music based on the poems that he wrote, I have the exact opposite situation; yes, when I start a work, I have concepts, images, and inventions in my hands, however, it can reach its ultimate form with the help of music. How do you evaluate the historical process of the interaction between visual arts and music? One of the answers that can be given to this question is "Plurivocality" exhibition held at Istanbul Contemporary, seemingly an important undertaking. I would love the increase the number of the exhibitions doing such interdisciplinary researches. There are also other ways to rake up the interaction between music and visual arts, maybe more free texts will be available. It would greatly excite me that a musicologist or a devotee of music writes on my favourite artist. For example, which composers can be associated with the art of Murat Morova? If we consider the opposite, Mehmet Can Özer has a fascinating composition named "Siyah Kalem Dansı” that he brought out based on the paintings of Mehmed Siyah Kalem. I doubt that there are so many samples (in music) similar to these in Turkey, however, I don't think at any rate that the artists needs to give direct references in order to associate a work with a work produced in another discipline. A physician can also presume to write on an artist focused on the body policies. If you were born into the world as a famous musician, who would you like to be? Why? Alfred Schnittke, definitely. Very familiar yet so stranger - as a Gargantuan that swallows the History of Western Classical Music and vomits these in the forms of dark and bright stones. He has a unique theatricality that cannot easily be confused with any other composer. It is quite surprising that a figure like him emerged in Russia, even though someone as unusual as him did not show up in Western Europe where avant-garde music was supported by the strong institutions and protectors. Besides resisting the conservatism of the musical climate in which he grown up, he was one of the few composers to convey the polystylism up to these endpoints and could protect it.
What do you enjoy most about the styles in terms of aural sense? It would be sufficient to say Ben Frost, Rima Khcheich, Venetian Snares, and Toivo Tulev were among my favourite composers in these days. What can you say about the music that you produce? First of all, I've been offering aural products to only answer/ accompany my visual works for 7-8 years. I produced music on my own for a long time, but I am currently producing jointly with Mural Balcı. Using a visual work or predominant concept within that work as a base at first, we search the sounds compatible with these concepts. Here, what I've been talking about is the highly subjective abstraction rather than "translation from visual to auditory", we are aware that some audience will have difficulty in establishing a connection between the visual work and the sounds we have used. Through the acoustic sound that we have handled and overlapped in the digital, we are seeking to create sound collages rather than the harmonic coherence. I’m saying sound collage, because, I am not pretty sure whether "composition" word matches up to what we have been doing to the full. There has no major ups and downs in this recordings, just like sections of the mass of sound that can continue to the end of time. What is the biggest deficiency in art writing according to you? I feel uncomfortable with the articles on -mostly- artists on the occasion of the exhibitions. For example, what I want is the proliferation of comparative and retrospective articles. How was labour exploitation dealt with by the artists who were residing in different cities and belonging to different generations? What kinds of approach dissimilation and affiliates were there between the artists using literary references? How does social gender reflect in the artists’ choices? Artists do not have to be alive to proceed to these kinds of undertakings, let alone holding an exhibition. It doesn't mean these kinds of articles are not written, but very low compared with the number of the works produced. At this point, beyond any doubt, we should consider that the critics and art historians are not sufficiently supported by the institutions and they have to work in the jobs covering most of their time in order to keep their head above water, however, when we take into account that we are in the internet era, they are also advantageous in that they can transmit the articles to the reader via a simple blog or social media. I hope this advantage will be more effectively utilized in the near future. When you define your art, you say, "a kind of gambling; which side do you compare to gambling? What taught us in the academy (if it comes so strict, let's say "exhorted") is: a painter struggles and strains for a long time to "find himself or herself", conducts various experiments, and finally, decides on a formula that will transform into his or her signature and do not easily give up this formula. The changes to be realized thanks to the new formula and inventions should extend to tens of years. This could be an attitude that can be adopted by an artist, I have no objection. There are artists, which I admire, that stuck to the same formula for life. However, we cannot expect from every artist to adopt this attitude. I want to take risk and perform many experiments as much as I can in terms of both style and material, not to be rooted to a place where I feel gaining appreciation of my audience. Moving frequently carries risks like losing the audience and forcing their interest, which is a feature that can be termed as "gambling". If I do not gamble, I lose my enthusiasm for producing art. As far as we know, you have a YouTube channel named "vox populi". What do you take note of the things you share here? Just like millions of people, I also use YouTube in order to discovery music as one of the most important sources. I want to support the musicians and composers that I am of not only by buying their albums but by sharing their works, uploading my channel. There are not thousands of followers of my channel, the pieces that I uploaded are listened by a few listeners, but it is a sufficient achievement for me to cause a few listeners to discuss. Thank you...
Vol. 8
Ahmet Doğu İpek Interview Varvara - Towards Sponge Documentary