Art, fashion, music, cinema; an antidote to life. Pushing the limits and adding flavour and personality to these genres is a responsibility of a few. Here are ‘The Ones’ – passionate, fearless, pushing their limits; The call sheet is fierce and this is just the beginning.
Ahmet Rıfat Şungar Oyuncu / Actor
“What would they think? Would they like it? Can I do it?” Ahmet says in an elusive, but sort of getaway sentence. He then convinces himself to this conclusion, a conclusion that we are able to construe from his fragmented thoughts; Rıfat found the strength in himself as an “actor”; he is more interested in process-oriented works instead of result-oriented works. He says “I am uncomfortable when there is no trial and error whilst trying to be coordinated.” He then adds, “To be open to criticism, to be away from flattery, to work without personalizing anything and then having a good old conver- sation…” The list goes on. While keeping up the search to be in a play, he chooses the “trial-and error” cycle in order to improve his concentration for acting and excitement. His current agenda includes his play “Blink-An” on at Tatbikat Sahnesi, his film “Le Chant Des Hommes” which will premier in the beginning of February, and Emre Yeksan’s feature film which he will start working on this year. When we ask what determines an actor’s limits, Rıfat emphasizes collective work, “The person himself determines this… The scenario, the play, the director determines it. Is he lazy, is he hardworking? The possibility of personalization with his work determines it. His occupational ethics determine it. De- pending on which limit you mention, the union determines it… There can be many possibilities!” He compiles these sentences in regards to what we see and we don’t see in acting… When we ask him about foreign films, an arena where he pushed his acting and performed in a language he doesn’t speak, he says “I was scared, they said ‘don’t be’ and I tried it… I listened to the sound recordings for a while. Somehow I opened my ear to French. Everything is possible when you encounter people who would encourage you and believe in you and who ask to approach your fears on a professional level. You can read a character’s concerns without speaking at all, that’s another language. It was a different experience to get along in English, act in French and to get excited and curse in Turkish with fear of making a mistake. I love occupational quests that may be risky.” He highlights that dreaming is a routine that one can’t stay away from, “I dream of art taking me everywhere rather than specific places.” Rıfat points out that Istanbul is expanding and getting jammed constantly and “Art should be spread out and put in every corner of Istanbul without forgetting anywhere…” he is very hopeful when he says this.
Dilara Sakpınar Müzisyen / Musician
“I would like to make music, continue producing, and sharing my music in different places around the world. I would also like to make soundtracks.”
“What’s important is for music to become a lifestyle”, says Dilara, who highlights the influence of musicians in her fam- ily for her “natural choice” to be a musician herself. “I guess the time I felt that music was going to be my whole life was when I started to study music.” She then embraced music as a job even though it wasn’t considered as a classic 8 to 5 job. “As a musician, singer, songwriter, day by day I am evolv- ing towards unknown destinations.” Dilara is also currently working on her project “Lara Di Lara” which consists of her own songs, along with her 123 band that she’s been work- ing with for a long time. Her work, which consists of songs with an abundance of lyrics, reflects Dilara’s perspective and experiences from life. Her music is also influenced by irre- placeable names from her playlist that consists of Meredith Monk, Sade, Joni Mitchell, Eric Satie, Lhasa De Sela, Bill Evans, Caetano Veloso and Astrud Gilberto. However, she is also influenced by the likes of her family and names like Frida Kahlo, Meredith Monk, John Cage, Joni Mitchell. She defines these people as being extremely strong and “people who are constantly growing, producing, doing, expanding, af- fecting.” Dilara is now taking stage under the name Lara Di Lara and says that she will soon make a new record. We also found out that 123 will be recording a new album in Spring, and these days Dilara is about to complete another record with Levni for the Alike Places project. She puts an emphasis on making music with love and consistency, and she says the most important thing is “not to diverge from one’s self, to continually grow and to proceed towards your path,” add- ing “How people perceive your outlook is not the priority for me. How you dress, how you move, how you stand on stage, what you say… These all come after the music itself. Today, there are a lot of people around me who are impatient, who want to be a star, a rock star, or popular instantly and want to make a lot of money. All of these are nice and maybe even necessary, but none of them should come before music. You should not make music because someone forces you. You shouldn’t be thinking about what people will say or what you can do to impress others, you should do it first for yourself then for the universe. Because you want it and you love it. Without skipping any steps, you should be taking it seriously. Then the rest will come.”
Hande Çokrak Moda Tasarımcısı/ Fashion Designer
“My biggest excitement is to be part of the endless change in fashion.”
Hande’s spontaneous application to London College of Fashion was the first step into this world, however she says “I can’t imagine doing a job that would satisfy me as much”, and we have no doubt of her permanence in this industry! Maid in Love is being sold in more than 50 cities around the world, worn by different crowds as if referencing the brand’s diversity, with a place in various and different cultures. There are different meanings to owning a brand; one needs to embrace every field from design to manufacturing, from finance to marketing and one has to look at the big picture. Her awareness on this issue is easily felt, stating, “Passion is a must in this business! Either you do it with love or you can’t do it at all.” She expresses a fearlessness in her designs and the choice of colors and patterns, where anything that gives to creativity can be an inspiration, “An artwork, trash or a person… I can be inspired from anything that excites me.” In the process of developing drafts and realizing them, which she defines as “the most exciting part of the job”, her only needs is her comfortable house, a laptop and long nights. While she mentions where she is now is exactly what she dreamt of, she continues her work to take this further. “Ex- panding the team of Maid in Love, increasing stores, creating an online sales network, even making a male collection.” These are what Hande fearlessly counts when we ask about the projects to be foreseen. She says “Istanbul street fashion is developing rapidly and this young generation is more courageous in showing their personal styles.” At that point her excitement is undoubtedly the source of energy in her collection! Hande points out that being Turkish is always a plus for foreigners and a subject of curiosity. She thinks old prejudices for Turkish fashion is gone and says “People abroad have more ideas about Turkey now.” Hande is also a part of Fashion incube that’s established to support new tal- ents from Turkey’s fashion industry, which helps her in being more equipped for international projects.
“The ability to cope with life in grace and with meaning; as a human being, a woman and an artist.”
Layered and vibrating, comes in waves, like the sea on the tide” is how Lara describes Istanbul and its culture. She says the international audience should be aware of the fact that “Istanbul is a dynamic source of some unreleased energies, it’s where these energies are folding and unfolding simultaneously. This tension is palpable and profound.” Lara is happy to see the development of the work “Turquoise”, which she presented at The Moving Museum İstanbul show, from an installation piece into other layers and mediums organically. Nowadays she is excited for the Beirut Art Residency project that she will undertake in early 2016. She talks about the project in a calm but enthusiastic way: “ It will be a good way to start the year.” and she adds “ I will be showing new works in a group show in Depo in May 2016, an exhibition that came together around Walter Benjamin’s On the Concept of History text. It’s a group of artist from Turkey and Germany, brought together by Patrizia Bach, a dear friend and a talented artist…” Lara is looking for various sources for inspiration and realisations, she says “From old engravings and alchemical writings to poetry, visiting museums that show prehistoric artifacts and recognising the complicated ways in which daily consumer products are arranged for contemporary city window displays, 140 characters of striking stories to images made to be consumed with an expiration date. All that is a part of the contemporary daily life, especially those that carry the weight of their personal and universal history”
Can Evrenol Yönetmen / Director
“I like nationalist ideas romantically but if we believe that there is a big difference between Turkish people and outsiders, we are fooling ourselves. This is only humans labelling one another.”
Can courageously undertakes the genre of horror films; “I am very much affected by Zeki Demirkubuz’s low budget naked films. I think it feels like we’re watching the movie from behind the cameras because these were films without special effects and splendor. I remember being inspired by them.” Can started his movie path with a lot of festivals and awards for his short film debut “ Vidalar”. For that period, he says it had a nice turnaround and it encouraged him and so he began his sequential short film series. He submits his films to international horror film festivals, “The most pleas- ant part of the job is this.” His short film “To My Mother and Father” that he shot with his friends whom he met during festival season in London, was shown in 18 festivals. Inevitably, Can met Reha Erdem in the Spanish festival. He talks about the evaluation process for the advertisement offer he got after they watched his film: “When all these were happening, new things kept coming up as if my life was in an evolution of it’s own; I met my girlfriend, I went to shorten my military service with payment, and one thing after the other I found myself leaving London and living in Istanbul.” With his first commercial film, Can won a Kristal Elma, then his commercial film work kept proliferating and he came to a point where he had enough knowledge to be a director. “Trying to convince that one is a director and is subjective, it is like prov- ing that one can pull a rabbit out of a hat. Some might like your work, some might not.” The short version of “ Baskın” came to to featured in 40 festivals. This film got the attention of producers in Spain and it was followed by a longer version of the original, and then a marathon of festivals proceeded. Can, says “It meant that it rose in rank when it was shown in Toronto Film Festival followed by the sale to the US market.” The film brings up the question “Whether Turkey is used to works that are intended to be shown abroad?”, Can says “As a principle, I’m not someone who thinks whether a product is local or international. Because I think we are influenced from the west and the east, Africa and Russia and Karaköy, altogether.” Baskın, which still maintains it’s full hype, was released in 100 theatres this January. Can says “We have a project called “Köprüde Buluşmalar” (Encounters on the Bridge) supported by the ministry, with an interest to finance it from Los Angeles. I think of going to Los Angeles and stay- ing there for a while, at the same time I have commercial works in Turkey. In short, I can say that I’m definitely on a transitional period right now.” “Being at the Cannes Film Festival and hearing the comments of philosophers like Sla- voj Žižek, meeting great short story writers and authors, being able to make adaptations for their writings according to your own taste…” these are what Can will work for in order to strive for the best in cinema and to put taboos aside.
Elif Çevik Kurucu / Founder of Milk Gallery
Elif is one of those people who can adjust the meaning of the word “job” every morning in a shape that fits her own rules by examining her interests, experiences and environment. In 2009 due to the absence of galleries that represent movements of her interest, she established Milk Gallery. She tells us about the beginning, “Young artists couldn’t find anywhere to exhibit their work. A young audience was distant from art. In this sense, the sector was limited. Milk was established to lead the change for the sector and diversify the market.” Working extremely hard on developing Milk, Elif also has a dream of shooting a long-length animation film. To speak more of Milk Talents, which stands out from the agency structures that we are accustomed to, brings us one step closer to Elif’s future plans. Right now this system serves seven different countries including Turkey and is growing fast; it is a strong network incorporating indepen- dent artists and studios. “Advertising agencies, production companies, in-house design studios, brands, and publishers make up our clientele. We serve our customers in various fields such as illustration, CGI, animation, industrial design etc. By evaluating project briefings we recommend proper artists for them and later we also work with the artist to ensure that the project meets with the brand expectations.” With these words Elif summarizes what she does under the roof of the network, describing how the project started from trying to come up with a solution for freelancers who had difficulties of forming a brand-artist relationship. “As I knew the needs of both sides very well, I wanted to make market conditions better by presenting such a service.”
Kemal Hamamcıoğlu Yazar / Writer
Kemal says he started to write during his military service, surprising us with how he used to hide them in the freezer next to frozen toasts so that no one could read them. “I promised myself not to be part of any job unless it got be flabergasted.” As he says this, today he can make his audi- ence feel exacly how he wants them to. He talks about his work on finding his story “I don’t set my alarm for seven in the morning, I sit up all night in this system. There is a lot of work, and my alarm never rings for me to start it.” For Kemal the turning point has been his play Kabin which was staged in Craft, followed by Garaj. Kemal has been a great excitement for all those who are aware of the lack of writers for theater plays. He is working on his next play now, “I keep writing and erasing… I am looking for the right words, heavy words. There is a woman and a man. They are looking for the right words just like I am. I guess the play is about to finish for all three of us. We are all going through difficult days.” he says. Plays, lyrics, tv series, film… We can’t put borders on his writing. Kemal says “I hear poetry, but for example I can’t write poems. Poetry is out of that border.” Kemal is working on three film scenarios, “One of the films will be set in Berlin. I will go there in February to write the scenario.” When we ask him to talk to us about Istanbul; “Istanbul is full of café’s now. Full of breakfast places. It is full of chairs cheek by jawl that are distant at the same time. In those jammed tables, there is neither cinema nor theater. Istanbul’s name is not mentioned. Istanbul is not even on the background. The city is without cinema now. We are without cinema.” We are as- sured that he will be working with body and soul for change.
Nazlı Gürlek Küratör / Curator
“The world is my home, I travel a lot and I often live in different cities, but Istanbul is where I was born. So, my connection with this place is pretty vital.”
As she tells us about the process of choosing art as her job, Nazlı says “I had no other choice. I’ve been painting since I was a child and when I had to choose a major, I did not think of anything else but art.” When we ask about the difficulty of artistic work in our country, she says “There is nothing you cannot manage if you do it with passion.” For her, job and passion are synonyms of one another. Nazlı, who started her practice as Assistant Curator of Pavillon of Turkey at Venice Bienale in 2009, dreams to touch more people with her work. Underlying art’s humanistic concerns such as the issues, desires, concerns and dreams of people, Nazlı points out that exhibitions take artworks and gives them back to the people in a charming package. When we ask how curator- ship is fed, she states that it’s fed by “Any type of everyday practice as well as art itself, films, literature, politics, ecology, food, emotions and anything else constituting life.” Nazlı mentions İz Öztat, Nil Yalter, Deniz Gül, İnci Eviner, Ülgen Semerci and Emre Hüner as names that excite her in the name of art, and right now she is also the guest editor of New York based and Middle-East focused ArteEast publication. She brought the development of the Turkish art scene to the center of her work, “I worked so hard here and this place has formed my career as well. Besides, the art scene today has become a little too commercial. I think we should balance this by supporting it with real talent, knowledge and intelligence.” Ms Gürlek is apart of Istanbul’s art market where she works hand in hand with a group of people, just at the beginning of this journey.
Yazı / Text: Duygu Bengi | Fotoğraf / Photography: Tuğberk Acar / Fabrika | Styling: Fulya Alan | Saç / Hair: Mustafa Akgül / Önder Tiryaki Team | Makyaj / Makeup: Mete Yiğit / Önder Tiryaki Team | Fotoğraf Asistanları / Photography Assistants: Berat Soner Çapin, Jiyan Kızılboğa