* Milliyet Art Magazine, October 15 1989, Issue: 226
Ahmet Öner GEZGİN, one of the academic members of Mimar Sinan University, Department of Photography, has opened his 4th solo exhibition, within the framework of the International IIth Istanbul Biennial at the Vakko Art Gallery. Here, we present an interview with Gezgin about this exhibition, enhanced by various visual items in addition to photography.
In your exhibition, held as part of the Biennial, we can observe the transition of your photography towards three-dimensional work. How do you explain this change?
This exhibition, which is part of the Biennial, is not a manifestation of change, but rather a developmental indicator of the style that I have been actively pursuing since the 80s and for which I have made no concessions. Fashion is the symbol of change; there is no continuity. My process has a past and a present. From the factors that prepared the transition from the 1900s to the 2000s, the extensive development of knowledge, the change of social structure, the dizzying, rapid development of communication tools and influences on the artist in an effort to envisage the age of political movements, leading to new pursuits and thus the equipment and practices provided by industry and science, opens the doors to new ways of expression for the artist. These new ways prepare the stage for the artist to present in a new, subjective language, his own reality, the reality of the age he lives in. This orientates the artist to a versatile, multidimensional and variable thinking.
The work of art is not a record frozen at a speed of one in one hundred and twenty-fifth of a second, a narrow section of everyday life. It must also be considered and show an expansion to an original objective reality. Because, in art there is not only a certain instant that has passed but also time that will come. Therefore, it is necessary for the art of photography as it is for any art in order to be able to sustain its existence, to explore new possibilities of expression, to enrich its specific technical, aesthetic, semantic and pragmatic language in the artistic context. In this developmental line, it is inevitable that photography enters into a limited dialogue with other art branches. The efforts I have made since the 80s and the work that I have created have developed in line with this assessment. That is, my work in the exhibition, which I opened three years after returning to Turkey and starting as an assistant in the Academy, upon completing my postgraduate training in Germany in 1977, were integrating visions showing initiative to the new reality and increasingly to experimental art. The secret slogan of this exhibition, aiming at directing the audience from visual education to intellectual education, was the new reality based on the conception of freedom in photography. I was aware how hard it was to convey this pursuit of the new reality to masses who speak another language in Turkey in those years.
In the process, I continued to pursue the new internal reality in the view of the snapshots of traditional photography. In this direction, I tried to create the third dimension intellectually. The common message of my work in this period is related to the human as it is today; it is like an indispensable passion to investigate the dilemma of internal and external reality of the human of our era, with a Freudian approach…
What are the basic elements of Conceptual and Visual Images? Both technical and content-wise?
The work featured in the show was produced with mixed media. The ones except the Cloud People (Bulut İnsanlar) exhibited in the location and on pedestals are hanging on walls. Photography constitutes the basic element of the work. The work in which the human element is present is in the dimension of the audience; that is, exactly in the same size. The work was produced with the monochrome printing technique. Some were local, Cloud People was applied total monochrome blue toning, and one was total monochrome brown toning. The other elements of the exhibition are technological products that come from separate roots and logic: Corrugated cardboard, twine, plastic bracket, bakelite, aluminum, brass metal sheet, leather, plexiglass, wood, synthetic and cellulosic paint etc. In the meantime, the plaster masks and plaster hands should not be forgotten; one of the important experimental methods applied in this exhibition is the use of photographic paper as fabric on three-dimensional surfaces, e.g. in Cloud People…
Some of the elements I have listed above were used in the way we perceived them, while many were used producing new forms from their forms in line with the concept. The element of each work was selected in accordance with the meaning and communicative message of that work. As I have already emphasized, the human element is also dominant in this exhibit: With visual language, I tried to bring solutions to the inner and outer realities of the human of our era.
How has the art of photography evolved in Turkey in recent years?
There is an orientation towards the positive in terms of both the interest of the masses in photography and the pursuits of new reality outside of the documentary attitude. However, these efforts are so slow that they cannot be parallel with the rapid change of other arts. There are multiple reasons for this. First: People using photography as a vehicle to reach the artistic message insist on storing technological information rather than theory. Second: Photography being the only art branch that could not find its audience in the artistic context in our country and that was not able to drag along masses accordingly. Third: The institutionalization of education, which is the first and foremost prerequisite for the photography to fulfill its social and artistic functions, being delayed when primarily supposed to come first. Hence, the educational staff that can provide parallelism to the thought structure of the age not being established. Fourth: The only art branch that can follow the development line of other plastic arts in our country and is able to relate to photography and lacks of critic equipped with theoretical knowledge is once again photography.
As a final word, I can say that in our country there are individual breakthroughs in the development process of photography toward the pursuits of new reality. However, it is not possible to talk of mass development yet.