This quarantine period has led us all to different habits, experiences and productions. We live in silence or in tumult, without relocating, traveling, connecting the places where we live and work, touching the dough, soil, paint. “When I dream, I see. What more can I do on a trip than that? Pessoa said, “Only people with a very weak imagination need to be moved to feel something.” What should we do, we will have to listen to your words; Staying at home, going on our own journeys, living life like this… We can’t do the workshop visits we love so much these days, but we continue to nurture each other by staying in touch and sharing. We asked the artists how the pandemic changed their studio environment and production, and what they are working on these days. We share their answers with you, along with an updated photo from their studios.
Ahu Akgün, İstanbul
“I am in the 5th week of voluntary quarantine and I have not been able to go to my studio for the last 3 weeks. We turned our study room in our house into a studio with my artist partner, Levent Aygül. For the first time since my undergraduate years, I am working among knights standing back to back. It’s nice not to be alone, of course, but when it comes to the working environment, I feel that we both have difficulties from time to time. Since my attention is so scattered, I can only concentrate on the painting itself at the moment. This sounds good to me too. When this period evolves into something, the works I produce will probably consist of objects I encounter at home, instant feelings and longings.”
Aslı Torcu, Paris
“Since pandemic has started to affect our lives, the feeling of uneasiness has already disrupted my work rhythm, which can be considered as “normal” before. I can say that the trio of anxiety, desperation, and fear; like many of us, took control of my life, not to mention my production. I learned that the entrance and exits to the building of my workshop were going to be limited too and that I needed to go and get my materials before the start of the ban. Until two years ago, I didn’t even have a workshop outside the house, now I had to go back home and create a working space within the bounds of possibility. I am very fortunate that there is a room that is not used much in the house, and I arranged a corner with the materials in my hand in this corner of the room. These materials are paper, pencil watercolor, pastel, a little bit of oil paint, dimensions are limited, so is space. In the first weeks, I was very struggled, because my workshop was my realm of freedom where I could only experience, think, and work as I want after all. I am getting used to it a little more nowadays, but the anxiety, despair, and fear I mentioned make it very difficult to focus on my production. Nevertheless, I am trying to do something in this new life, where I cannot stand out and be free. In the moments when I can get my head together, I follow a few themes that occur in my head. There are some mineralogy images that I have been interested in for a while, and my studies on the relationship between these items and my main subject, memory, among them. I was trying to establish a layered bond by trying new materials with the visuality of the minerals that impress me so much, mostly abstract and organic landscapes emerged in this period. In the current working conditions, I am following a more graphic, pattern-based method. At the same time, I hope to embody this process we are going through, which is difficult to apprehend and accept, in the form of an artist book with as if I was writing a diary within my possibilities and thoughts I am able to organize. I might seem pessimistic but I think the act of creation cannot reveal more than a stuck and fluttering imagination these days where we have not yet found hope for freedom.”.”
Mehmet Öğüt, İstanbul
“I couldn’t go to my workshop very often after the pandemic. I can say that my artistic production has decreased because I cannot take the work atmosphere in the workshop to my home. But we need to improve our proficiency for active production. Therefore, I am making use of this process as an accumulation period. I hope to actively transfer this accumulation to my production. My workshop and my home are different places. I was actively producing in my workshop and I was teaching art classes. Now, since I continue these classes online, I am the only one who uses the workshop. Actually, I can say that the working environment has not changed much after the pandemic, it is just that I can use it less.
Nowadays, I am mostly working on online art education. At this point, I use all my artistic knowledge and skills. I am actively trying to create resources for online lessons, as well as I am constructing the resources, which also emerges as a form of production of art, as an art object. I consider recording, being recorded, and transposition as a different form of communication beyond physical reality. In this context, I am dealing with our relationship with the technologies that connect us to social life. Accordingly, I am trying to produce content to question this situation. ”
Okay Özkan, İstanbul
“Like many others, I am confined to my home because of the pandemic. While continuing the works I began in the past, I started to produce works related to the pandemic process. Lockdown limited my life and production to the “home” or even the “room.”. To be honest, I feel in a creative repetition process where I discover the layers of the space, as in Alvin Lucier’s “I am sitting in a room”.
I continue to work on the axis of invasive species, postcolonialism and ecology that I have been working on for a while nowadays. I review the work that started in the past and still continues. However, I keep a kind of quarantine diary for myself, where I draw about the pandemic process. ”
Text: Özge İnal