Open Letter to Silva Bingaz

İpek Çınar
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April 2016

Dear Silva,

I hope you are fine and in good spirits. Even though we have seen each other a couple of times in different places, I doubt that we are really acquainted. And this usually results in a strange feeling in us as young photographers. When you come across a photographer who you follow the works of, familiar with his/her field through the interviews and who you admire, the only response is hesitation and withdrawal. This kind of one-sided communication, the feeling of being a "stalker" must be the disadvantage of being young and curious.

Even though I have been contemplating on writing this letter for quite some time, what made it all click into place - or rather, click inside me - was after I watched the movie "The Tale of the Princess Kaguya." This tale which had been one of the most nuanced but hurtful movie I have ever watched for a long time, is a story about a young woman who a peasant encounters, and who is delivered from a bamboo trunk and believed to be a "princess." The film tells the story of her transition from childhood to womanhood and her exposure to his father's and society's impositions. This tale of a woman who has a hearty laugh and abstains from future husbands, sets her face against conventional perceptions of beauty like plucking eyebrows, painting the teeth black in the way to become a princess, and who is constantly struggling to return to nature, impressed me so much that it makes me cry. As I am humming the soundtrack of the movie which haunted me for days (1) and through your photo I came up in my wall I realize once again the silently intended, but still harrowing humming in your works.


"...the fields needed to be walked in so they could make their rustle-talk. Fires needed to be built in the forest at night, and stories needed to be told outside the hearing of grown-ups." (2). The feeling this photograph aroused in me, the feeling of rejecting everything learned and surrendering the voice of nature, gives me an incredible power for solidarity.

Dear Silva, one should read more poetry! And put one's head in one's hands, ponder more; break one's shell just like a walnut, purify it, find the fruit. And in this effort of purifying there should be traces of nails. An absolute return to nature. And surely, a rebirth. When I think about this and cringe away from the effort, I see people who can blend their anger with their practice, and I am full of hope.  


At this point, I contemplating your works on gender roles, power relations between two genders, in other words your works portraying the boundary between masculinity and femininity in which we are trying to find our ground on different planes. Although I can find the clues in your works, I come to realize as I look carefully, that my basis is wrong: the images where you cannot find it tell more than the images where you can find it. Your work "Coast" which you started in 2002 and tried to complete by using close to 1000 films, appears as the place we are stripped away from all social codes. In other words, its being stripped away from sexuality as well. When I see photos of nature in your work which are quite frequent, I think of the identity I ascribe to the trees: witnessing everything but keeping quiet, patient and merciful.  I may be beating about the bushes, but it's because I think it is just the place to beat around the bushes: because your works are based completely on nature, what is sensual and unidentifiable instead of gender theories enclosing precisions and evidences in themselves. It seems that the years you spent on this work without using a lot of words indicates this fact. Then I think back on Calvino's "Six Memos for the Next Millennium" which I got after reading one of your interviews and which became my bedside book as soon as I got it. The most striking principle in the book was "Exactitude." Just as Calvino begins reversely by taking his hat off to lyricism of the obscurity, your images which set off from your poor-identified photographs, are full of feelings rather than meanings.

Also, some of your photographs show the message they convey in a manifest way: like the flower corresponding to the vagina in "Coast", man holding a woman's head in "Japan Works" as part of "European Eyes on Japan." Their manifestation disrupts the narrative flow focused on feelings which all your works are based on up to that point. I am wondering how these photos which give me the feeling of premeditation, coincide with photos that ambient and nonverbal.

And when I think about the major codes ascribed to these individual images, I get more confused: Where do all those projects stand in terms of the relation between the beauty of individual images and narrative tradition? Even one can feel the effect of literature and narrative tradition abundantly, I feel like I am looking at the highlighted lines of a well-loved long story rather than a storytelling. Are these works about capturing the hallmark image by outlining the idea when taking photos or are they about determining the hallmark from scratch and creating a storyline? And sometimes, each photographs' appeal in visual terms causes me to drift away at some point. I feel this is destroying what is external to the highlights in a book, and there are gaps in between these lyrical images. I wonder, if these gaps are expected to be filled or rather a desire to misplace the viewer.

And I really love getting lost inside these works which I ponder upon without finding any answer whatsoever.





(2) Women Who Run With the Wolves (Kitabı hediye eden Nazlı Deniz Oğuz'a sevgiyle.)