December 2, 2023

A Photographic exhibition at the Atatürk Cultural Centre Nicosia from 11 to 19 July 2023….

 By Heidi Trautman….

The artist, writer and poet Ümit İnatçı – under the organizational roof of his Art Center – has curated a photo exhibition following a certain idea he wants to make visible, the relationship between Humans, Space, and Beyond. To achieve this, he invited the art photographers Yıltan Taşçı, Emel Sefer, Mustafa Müezzinoğlu and Mustafa Evirgen whose works would support his idea and topic.

I went to see the exhibition one late morning and found some of my photographer friends present. I have often visited their exhibitions in the past and knew what to expect and it was of great interest to me in what way they would comply to the curator’s idea. Ümit İnatçı wrote in great detail about his research and the quality of the four art photographers’ works contained in a catalogue that was distributed at the exhibition. The text is in Turkish but I had it google-translated and will attach it hereafter without editing, hoping for your understanding.

But here are my impressions which are in line with those of the curator. Art photographers are storytellers with their own philosophy and line of interest and understanding. Their senses are highly tuned and always fully alert. Their knowledge of the laws of light, composition, and the resulting effect is fully experienced – besides being knowledgeable of all the available technical possibilities in photographic art. They are after the soul of something they are interested in and go right down to the roots.

And here, in the present exhibition, their photographic artworks prove the statement of a relationship between Humans – Spaces – and Beyond. Be it the human figures in a place of culture, be it gypsies and their living space, be it the worker in his workshop or the farmer in his working surrounding. Or be it the relationship of architectural structures and the human being making use of it. However, the human being is the creator of his/ her surroundings, of culture in general, he is always out for change, he will not adapt to nature, he will make it work for him/her. The human being will not become a grass blade, a tree, he/she will create the relationship and will make use of it…and beyond.

Beautiful and meaningful works, altogether 30. Yes, it is to be recommended that we citizens would also ask ourselves about our relationship to the surroundings we live and walk in.

Daily visiting hours:

  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday: 8.00 – 14.30
  • Thursday: 8.00 – 17.15

Ümit İnatçı’s Text

Photography includes the function of recording snapshots of the physical environments we are in, still or moving objects, living things on a surface by means of a technical apparatus with the permission of light. This was the case at the beginning, and now there is no need for a different definition. However, when it comes to aesthetic tendencies and the search for artistic language, we find ourselves in a plural search trajectory. Today, with the possibilities offered by digital media, the photographer who does what the painter does conventionally at a technical level may be in search of the same representation; it is just the modality of the changing tools and work.

When we look at the population number of the society we are in, we can encounter a considerable number of people dealing with photography. However, the work of taking pictures is very difficult to go beyond the arguments around a few technical concepts. For a photographer, it is technically and thematically sufficient to do justice to the photograph only by solving the mechanical function of the camera and the discipline of using the apparatus for the result. However, when the concept of art enters the picture, other areas of thought are included in the perspective. The photographer who instrumentalizes photography as an artistic discipline can be considered an artist responsible for his own language, just like the painter who makes art through painting.

We can say that this collective exhibition, which we presented to the audience under the name of “Human, Space and Beyond”, fell into our minds with these thoughts. It can be a useful activity experience to see the products of people who have built a justified photographer identity for themselves through quality, intensity in practice and persistent production in their fields of activity collectively around a concept and to be able to recognize their tendency differences.

The importance of visual culture in the formation of collective memory cannot be denied.

Photography is an effective memory tool in this regard and our country needs such a memory in the aesthetic sense. Especially in this age where visual media comes to the forefront, if we consider that photography is one of the most powerful visual culture tools, we have to make an effort to approach this objective reality through a text. Thinking, producing, reflecting on what is produced and thinking through a written text is an intellectual initiative that triggers new openings and supports visual culture with written culture. Any product that has not been named and has not been able to go beyond the periphery of feeling is not actually fully made and produced. Because we know that what we call civilization is built on written culture.

In this exhibition, where we will see the works of Yıltan Taşçı, Mustafa Evirgen, Mustafa Müezzinoğlu and Emel Sefer together, we will watch the visual data presented to the audience about the nature or city we live in, cultural or social spaces, collective presence or urban environments, and the relationship of human beings with space. In this case, we can not only go beyond people and space, but subjectively we will also witness the opening of a dialogue space.

What all the works in the exhibition have in common are social and anthropological layers, as required by thematic reference. When we look at how each photographer creates his own visual language according to the position of his lens against the subject, of course there will be differences.

Yıltan Taşçı’s subjective approach to photography gives the impression that he is fed by the frames that need a moment of meditation. In general, the effort to orient towards a ‘meaning’ can be considered as the common effort of every photographer, but the effort to transform the frame into a scene setup can also lead him to some posing interventions. Just like in the photo “Mothers and babies”. When we look at the group of photographs he compiled for this exhibition, what is constant in the photographs where the figure is used in the plural and singular is that the horizontal perception mechanism comes to the forefront. The human being who is in the natural structure of the space – whether nature or architectural space – is always positioned in front of a depth that extends toward the horizon. Even in interior photographs, we see that a hidden horizon line depth is determined. In this case, whatever Tasci is directed towards, it is embodied in a landscape fiction. Everything is built on a horizontal plane and acquires its own meaning there.

Mustafa Evirgen’s relationship with human beings in his spaces, which usually contain multiple perspectives, is a metric relationship. The quality that stands out prominently in space photographs is that vertical and horizontal depths offer a measurement opportunity for anthropometry compared to the human body. As the foreground and background are positioned as spatial layers, we realize that the proportions of light and shadow form a geometric pattern. The cultural identity of the place takes precedence over the cultural identity of the human being. The approach here also refers to the usual sociological movement of man. People come and go, but the spaces that are indicative of a civilization are permanent. And every mortal who passes by is obliged to show temporal sensitivity to the splendour of these spaces. The spatial depth in Mustafa Evirgen’s photographs also wants to emphasize a temporal distance. This is an indication that time has entered the frame as a fourth dimension.

Mustafa Müezzinoğlu’s photographs make you feel the use of a camera that internalizes the style of poetic editing and cinematographic expression. Its objective use in spaces that emphasize architectural character includes an attitude that emphasizes static and monumental façade views. In group portraits in narrower spaces, the holistic and relational fiction of this “exaltation of the subject” comes to the fore. In this sense, the construction of light in a theatrical presentation order gives the power to reflect the situations of the figures in relation to their own space. Photographs that approach the language of cinema are like the trailers of a movie. However, we understand that what Mustafa Müezzinoğlu understands from photography is not to produce independent frames in the specific sense. He usually turns to photography, which reflects a holistic thought and gains a meaning in the sum of its parts. The fact that he occasionally uses subject models is because he wants to act like an editing director. This is the side that touches the cinema.

Emel Sefer tries to detect people in their own living space in the places she is with his camera. In different geographies, in different cultural environments, there is a tendency to keep an objective that draws attention not to the presence of people at that moment, but to their presence in relation to their space in a broader context. What she looks for indoors and outdoors are clues to cultural anthropological layers. Her presence there at that moment is a temporary situation for her, but it will take a place in his memory as an experience. This quest to build memory is the first salient quality in her photographs. In this sense, those frames are documentary visual minutes about a place and a person. Whatever happens, there is reflected in the photograph as if it were being transferred to her own mind through the camera. This tendency encourages Emel Sefer to behave like a local rather than a guest in the places she is located, but she is still timid. Because the fact that you are always on a threshold in the photos also reveals itself. In the meantime, we can see that aesthetic sensitivity does not fall into the second plan in these searches.

Hoping that this exhibition, consisting of thirty photographs in total, from five to five pieces, will be useful in order to draw attention to the qualified efforts made to date and to carry the work done in this field to a language environment that it deserves.

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