The only picture Mehmet Turgut has on his wall is the origin of his Koza exhibition, a photograph depicting the opening of a cocoon from 4 sides. For his new surprising series that is exhibited in Gallery Ilayda right now, Mehmet says “It began as a 4 piece work 11 years ago. It was during a time of confusion.” He photographed this picture upon arriving from Ankara. He came across this photo series which he thought he might continue one day while researching for his new exhibition, and he began working on 4 different models.
These images were far from the usual Mehmet Turgut style; he says “Well, no one expected work containing amorph from me… People expected loud, lively works. I think now that they’ve seen what I’ve done, they realized that I am in my 40s and that I’ve matured.” However he adds that he might go insane and shoot pictures depicting fire explotions “I’m unpredictable, you’ll never know what my next move is.”
“Like everyone else, I also thought that I understood women for a certain time period, but at some point you see that a man cannot understand a woman. Because she has a different metabolism; after all she gives birth, thinks different than you, she cares about the things you don’t care about. She doesn’t care about the things you care about.” “I would have continued on aestheticly pleasing photos of women had I thought that I understood them. This series occurred because I didn’t.’’ The series portray images of traumatic situations Mehmet went through with women he had relationships with in the last decade. Mehmet considers the exhibition a Rorscharch Test which was born due to the women in his life: “The women in my life had dichotomies, there were women who loved me when I didn’t love them, those who thought they loved me but actually didn’t. These images are their reflections in my mind.”
Mehmet says no one should intervene on the journey between a photographer and his photographs, because the result is only unique when an artist goes through that journey on his own. “Who cares what I do up until the point where I hang my picture on a wall? I can do whateve I want. Did you intervene with Van Hogh on his choice of color?”
He talks about his studio in Ankara; he created a colorful world for himself like Andy Warhol’s Factory. Dwarfs, dancers, body painters… “Everything was naive there, it was an honest city. When you did something there, everybody knew that you did it for art. Here, people over think things. Will he use me? Will I make money? Because this is Istanbul and nobody trust one other.” “Here is the problem in Turkey: all photographers in this country are fashion photographers. Because they like that world; beautiful women, hair, make-up… Whether you are charmed by the glamorous world of popular culture or want to succeed rapidly, there is an urge to get what one’s want immediately. You used to get recognized for your work, this generation wants the fame first, then the job.”
It’s obvious that Mehmet Turgut has a mission to express photography in Turkey; he goes to universities, makes television and radio appearances, he shows young talent how to do better. But most importantly, he encourages them.
I ask about social media’s photo craze, “I feel like a monkey in a pool of bananas. There is the good, the bad, the ugly, the humurous… It doesn’t bore me, my whole life is surrounded around photography.” He adds: “I also like that people take so many photos, those who belittered the job now see that it’s not that easy and pay more respect.”
The Koza series which we can’t stop talking abour will be at Gallery Ilayda until May 15. For Mehmet, the month of May is pretty busy; he is preparing to visit 10 universities with 10 different artist where two students will be the lucky winners of getting help for a shoot that includes hair & make-up, called the “Falan Filan Kampüste” tour. What then, I ask. Any plans of opening up a studio for students? We learn that he is in the works of doing a project with Mustafa Seven on a photography atelier. He defines this project as street meeting studio photographers, “a retirement project” he says, laughs.
Fotoğraf / Photography: Fora Norman