Open Letter to Gözde Türkkan

İpek Çınar
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Dear Gözde,

Even though we have found the chance to be together, we couldn't find the opportunity to talk face to face; so I cannot say we are actually acquainted. I hope you are well, and in good spirits. The reason I am writing to you is your works and also your skills in presenting your works.

When you are trying to create a photography project, one of the biggest nuisances, I guess, is the fact that camera at hand doesn't have the reservoir of mind, that it cannot correspond to it completely. The idea of a "machine" – come to think of it like this – protecting its own personage in such a way, makes one horrified. Its trademark as copying reality exactly as it is when it was first invented is so characterful for an object: while it copies reality as it is in each frame, we are at the same time, exposed to reality. And this is a precursor for amazement. For normally, we see reality without isolating ourselves from our personality and when we are doing this we also include our accumulation of knowledge, our value judgements and our habits. That is why, I think, the first pieces in a new work are full of various disappointments.

When the work is in progress, it is time to thank the Gods of Presentation. So we are moving to the point where the curse is reversed and the camera comes down to serve only the purpose of the human idea. Maybe that is the reason why photography gains value when it tells a story (and this is the subject of another essay).

At this point of balance, I cannot help but think of your works which you support with theories on gender and body politics and in which you find a perfect balance between theory and images. These works depart from serious theories, still they make no compromises on your sincerity (the reason I think like this is that as your interests evolve your works evolve in the same direction). That is why I'd like to address a couple of your works which I believe to reflect your personally most, rather than focusing on just one of them (and this is yet another burden; attributing some personality to someone I don't know that much based on her works). If I come through, I would prove myself the sincerity of your works – in my own way. How about that?

You were born in 1984. I think your series' taking shape in a format consistent with their own medium, the power of their subtexts, the diversity in your presentation; all those make you an angel of narration.

"I Was Looking" which also constitutes your first exhibition, is in some way a self-exploration project. It is also a crucial milestone with regards to your search on the identity of human body in political spaces which starts with "Pudica" (2007), and your search starts with your own body.

Even the title of the work is a summary of this acute but naïve situation in which women turn themselves into an object: "…women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at." (John Berger, Ways of Seeing) Women turn to look knowing someone will look at them. They initially objectify themselves. Throughout your series, the woman who shouldn't be aware of she is being watched under normal conditions, in fact, always poses; she constructs her own identity and she presents this identity to other people.

This point, which we cannot distinguish that distinct if it is expressed through another person's body, leaves no room for doubt when you use your own body instead.

(These two photographs which is at the core of the work is like an epitome.)

Do you know the story of how Nietzsche lost his mind? Rumor has it that in a usual day like every other day, Nietzsche goes out of the house for an ordinary chore, and he sees a coachman whipping his horse fiercely. He cannot control himself and hurl himself on the coachman and starts crying. When his neighbors take Nietzsche home in crises, there is one thing Nietzsche keeps repeating: "Oh God, what have I done?" He takes on the sin of the coachman – takes the sin of humanity. He wouldn't be the same again. Even it might be too romantic, whenever I look at Pay Here this story comes into my mind. A Gözde Türkkan who revolts for the sins committed by the powerful against "lesser ones", for her "natural rights"; a Gözde Türkkan who at least speaks out about them at every turn, not letting us take it for granted. A constant perceptual vigilance.

At face value, the images are frames we encounter every time in our daily lives without their anomaly being questioned. However, by putting another dimension, she throws you to a wall constantly; she disturbs the viewer and never lets one take for granted the situation. Seeing the first photograph I say "maybe they are lovers and they are very happy (maybe they really are happy)" and later the second one strikes the blow and you manage to direct the gaze to the point where you'd like.

Especially, the third image which is very central to your work still incorporates another dimension; and reiterates the thought with the imagery. Besides, even these 3 images – high heel shoes, flesh and the crowd looking at the flesh – merely can touch one's sore point.  I wonder if the way you end the work with your own portrait (and the same manner is also prevalent in "Full Contact") is a new reference to "I Was Looking" (and for that matter, to "Full Contact" as well).

I was always appalled by this idea: no matter what kind of education, mentality and culture I have, I cannot go outside after 3 in the night. I cannot take chances as to what men who may be theoretically equal to me, and when I consider the way I have improved myself, even inferior, can do. At this point, there exists a world of "domination" in which I have no power to speak. And there I sit at home reading academic papers on the subject while the world revolves around favoring physical power.

Marcus Shaden said in PhotoBook MasterClass exhibition opening about you: "I am always surprised by how that dainty young girl contains in herself a kickboxer." I guess, in my own way, I connect these two dominant attributions, and I am not surprised. Moreover, your work "Full Contact" in which you confront us with the display and marketing of the "body" with "body politics" as well as associating your projects on gender politics with your endeavor, presents and embeds the missing piece of the puzzle which we are not aware of its absence due to your endeavors being not articulated in that manner.

Maybe this is the most crucial keyword I mentioned about you, it has unfolded itself in this way, appeared before me: "confrontation."

"Confrontation." Even though this word/concept involves strength, it contains in itself the notions of "facing off" and "face." That notion which I wasn't aware of when I started writing my letter, has become more and more confusing for me when I start going into details. It confuses me how much of your works are constructed on facing off and how much confrontation; in other words, it confuses me how much are constructed on looking and how much displaying. For I have to admit that, rather than the words I have written thus far, I cannot be sure if your initial point is merely a curiosity, a desire for exhibiting which I find very humane, an expressionist's way of "voyeurism" which I believe everyone has one way or another, or it was I who ascribed all those meanings. I mean, even though in your works there is always an orientation towards woman's body, is this body belongs to some concept of "woman" which has social connotations, or is it Gözde's or someone's body that Gözde wants to look at? Or the line in between is already ambiguous? I try to figure this out, but to no avail. I guess I need your help.

All best,