Interview with Marcus Graf
Could you briefly tell about yourself as an artist, living and working in Istanbul?
I started to work as a professional during my university years. My works have changed quite consistently from that time. I studied painting then I gradually moved into other media. Still, I describe myself as a painter. The subjects that I am interested in haven’t changed that much. It’s possible to categorize many of works under similar topics. Philosophically what we see and how we see is the main problem for me.
Living and working in Istanbul is very difficult as an artist. Istanbul usually gives me negative feelings and I believe this can be read through my works.
You recently opened a solo exhibition called “Statis” in PG Art Gallery, Tophane. Photographing plastic models, what was the first thought came into your mind?
I had already been trying to manipulate photography for many ways. I have been using computer models recently and merging them with photos. I also used plastic figures and toys in some of my past works. In this exhibition i revised my old works deeply and examined the ideas i wanted to show. So i can say this exhibition is kind of simple summary of the past works; taking the important things from them and looking ahead.
What lies down under your space perception and reality in the works shown in Statis?
In this works the idea of space was very important for me because the models that i built are vehicles. They are things made to go somewhere and space is directly related to idea of movement. And I wanted to give them an isolated look to eliminate the signs of space and time. Actually this comes from space perception of our visual culture. Today, space and object informatically fragmented and they usually exist as a collage. I, too, create a kind of collage which includes complex production phases and overlap some units to show the others. I believe not showing the space or showing it as a two dimensional background says a lot about three dimensional perceptions.
How do you use technological tools in your art?
If you’re talking about the electronic technology i only use cameras and computer. Computer is the main tool for me. Not because it allows too many possibilities, but because it gives me the image that I want easily – an image that has a distance, fictional, cold and closed. If you’re asking about technology in general, i can say that learning the limits of the objects in everyday life and building micro- languages with them is one of the main reasons i do art.
How did you choose these vehicles, is there any specific reference?
The models that i used are the copies of the specific vehicles which really existed. Of course the first reason for this to be my choice was to problematize the identity problem. Also, the disfunctionality of the vehicles is related to the same concept: questions about perception of the object as a sculpture, desambling objects or giving qualitative changes in them, etc. Of course if we deal with these issues with models and their photographs, we add new problems into copy-representation-object triangle.
The other reason about the selection of the vehicles is to mention the relation between the photography and the history only based on fictionallty. We believe there is an history which is represented by photogrpahs but actually is not. I intentionally choose the relatively famous and old vehicles. The another interest for me is how, in the last two centuries , the photography and industrial serial production devoloped together while helping each other.
Last but not least they illustrate the collapse of the utopic ideas about the conquest of geography, which belongs the other.
There seems to be a balance but hanging in the air, it is suspicious and illusional. Is this referring to the relationship between objects and status?
Actually the objects are not hanged in the air. We only dont see where they are hunged. The illusion you’re talking about should be the illusion of framing something which comes from photography. This illusion is vital for me and another reason is to show the represantions of the objects, not themselves. In this way illusion saves the images from the interactivty and leaves them in pictorial imaginary space.
How would you describe your intentions that you like to arouse in spectators with enlarging the impact of modified tiny models?
Actually while preparing my works I did not even think about the impact of the image from that point of view. However, one of the purpose was to show how photography is capable of enlarging – but also shrinking – in a way that is also pretty much political in representational history.
What is your urban future prediction? How will we see the cities and urban life?
It’s a very difficult question and hard to answer without analysis. What i imagine personally is that cities themselves are images. Probably the cities will be invaded by the fluid visuallity, fast enough not to have time to have distinctive architectural styles.
What is your opinion of Istanbul and the artistic movement in Istanbul?
As I said in the beginning I’m not so happy to live in İstanbul. The art apprehension of the people and municipality makes you angry very easily. It’s normal because we don’t have a proper culture education. The exhibition that i visit are usually very cliché and made for only amusement. People don’t criticize the exhibitions and they just prefer the smile each other. So I don’t believe in the sincerity of the interest for the contemporary art. People just flatter a today and I try to be far away. Expect from few museums and galleries it’s difficult to find good exhibitions that you can discuss about.