We’ve had a pleasant conversation with our artist Deniz Yılmazlar a.k.a. Karbon
about her creative processes.
Family Portrait Series, the Sister and the Cloud
You received your B.F.A. in Photography and Video. In your recent series Unutma Beni (Forget Me Not) eight photographs are complemented by a video. Is this born out of a necessity? How did this series come into being?
Actually Forget Me Not and Remember Me – Forget Me are two different projects that were created simultaneously or even intertwined. I am aware that they seem to be complementary; but this is only about some of their technical aspects. The fact that in both projects monochrome photographs are used and the visual movement attritubed to the figures intensifies that feeling. According to a German myth god creates the entire universe; he gives a name to everything he creates but forgets to do so for a tiny flower. The flower addresses him and says “Forget me not”. Smiling in a photograph is in a way this flower’s calling: “Forget me not”. In this series the new appearance of the figures that seem to be fading out (actually probably born at the very moment the picture was taken) has something to do with a desire: the desire to be remembered. If we assume that having your picture taken has something to do with fighting against being forgotten by being documented, we may sense that the faces in these photographs tend to totally become part of the space, never to leave it again. Bodies are intertwined with the space in which they pose, they penetrate it completely. They try not to be forgotten also by exploring this option. In other words, while the Forget Me Not series aims at answering the question “while having abandoned their physical existence in this worl, do the faces in the old photographs abandon their existence fixed in that moment in the photographs, or can they do so?”, from the viewpoint of the method and the provided answers, it is different from the Remember Me – Forget Me project.In that video the faces in the pictures not only lose their physical existence in the world, but they can also abandon the space they are in. In the project presented with the words “The body moves in space, the soul moves in time”, the faces who proove their existence through having their pictures taken complete their fadeout without leaving a tracethanks to some contemporary technical possibilities, and they tend to catch up with their motion in time. Exactly at this point the two projects become totally separate.
Lake-Forget Me Not series
In the series Forget Me Not and Void you intervene on found photographs. How is the experience?
Although it is not something I intentionally planned, I was surprised to notice that in the recently emerging series I have been using old photographs. As I evaluated this process I realized that, in addition to other series I have been working on, the authentic atmosphere in each of the old photographs is compatible with some of the subjects I have been reading, wondering or thinking about. Actually it also feels very hard to just walk away from a box full of photographs. As I look at the ones I select from among them and invent stories, trying to figure out what attracts me to them, some series are born.
In your works the dominant issues seem to be life-death and memory. What are your artistic motivations?
Points of motivation change every time, which is natural. For instance the project Void
was born during a visit we paid to some relatives with my family. One of the old photograph albums that suddenyl came out was very interesting. One of the figures was removed from each and every photograph in the album. But the pictures were there in it as if nothing happened! The absence of this individual no longer loved and seen and thus cut out and removed suddenly appeared before me in a very strong way, with an entity in the shape of a void. By bringing these voids onto surfaces made of porcelain and used as gravestone photographs I created the Void series composed of the photographs of the void that remained behind the deceased. Even turning into yourself after the things brought by everyday life, exploding bombs and everything that happened, the reality flowing out of the screen, and the ambiguity of reality or its doubtful existence are enough to show me that it is necessary to discuss the points of motivation again and again each time.
Baby-Void Series (left). News from Nowhere (right).
You seem to have the desire to render some things blurry and transparent.
Family Portrait and News from Nowhere have faces that fade out. On the other hand the blurry ones in Void or After Dark My Sweet are reminiscent of efforts to concentrate among things that are being lost.
Family Portrait series contain a small portion of the photographs where I take the concept of family and place my own family at the center, taking note of some dates, events, people and places I am supposed not to forget for my family history by using symbols. It is somehow a tentative practice for building a kind of individual memory. Or a journal that I prepare with the memories that I seemingly have to remember. It has a function similar to the notes you take on your hand before you leave home or shopping lists. It is just that the text is replaced by the photographs and symbols. These pictures with faces and figures that are cut out, overwritten, or hidden behind other things, make me curious about the reasons behind each of these interventions. In these series’ process of creation I also try to find the source of this curiosity. News from Nowhere emerged as the result of such curiosity. In the works created with an attitude underlining the ambiguity of what is hidden behind that face even in the pictures with the face entirely exposed, the faces are hidden behind the clouds in the midst of the hectic daily life.
Where does the name “Karbon” come from?
It is a name I have given myself after a moment of reflection, during which I thought we could be copies generated with blue carbon paper, since we are not flawless. When I encounter someone who thinks they are flawless I cannot establish communication with them anyways. Carbon is a kind of a stage name.
What are your future projects?
These days I read a lot about matter and memory. I am vurious about how forgetting looks in the mind. This is a field that requires reading in medicine and psychiatry. I want to know how we tend to forget someone, some place or a piece of information, and which pieces are deleted first and how. I also pursue some collage ideas where I can combine old and new photographs. I will explore if it is possible to move in time via old photographs. I wonder what the day to come will bring.