Deniz Türkoğlu We present ourselves with our smiles and hellos, and everything is very much contained.
By Mary Truong August 27th, 2020
Deniz Türkoğlu's theatre background emerges when she discusses artistic mediums: she spins metaphors of sculptures as stages, videos as sequential narratives, and installations as interactive performances. To her, time becomes an essential component to each medium. Sculptures present a frozen, singular moment for the viewer to investigate, but video allows her to share her own analyses on situations with timed beginnings, middles, and ends. However, to Türkoğlu, these boundaries are not so well defined— sometimes, videos can transform into sculptures through emphasizing stillness in time: a soft caress of a hand, how a wave brushes the shore. The meditative qualities of these gestures transcend simple motion from consecutive frames to instead imbue viewers with quiet contemplation.
“Within ourselves, there is a lot of secrecy that happens.”
Türkoğlu's training in performance influences the narratives that she depicts within her art. She is concerned with psychological release; intrapersonally, she notes that we often deny or hide things about ourselves. Her acting background frames it as a difference between an "outer persona" and an "inner self." For her, video can become a confrontational medium that exposes secrecy. In an installation where she displayed a table with food from a Turkish rakı gathering and projected faces conversing with each other on the room's surrounding 4 walls, she explains that the video has meaning beyond the literal conversation. The guests’ presence and absence from the table become symbolic of their situations in life.
If Türkoğlu had an intent for her artwork with respect to the viewer, it would be to trigger "something" outside of day-to-day emotions. Her artworks extend their narrative of psychological release by enacting release within the viewer. In an installation where Türkoğlu built a tent and then projected waves onto its walls, she describes isolation within space. The tent can hold one person laying down; as such, it supports solitude and individual contemplation underneath projected waters. Like so, Türkoğlu creates meditative spaces that can provoke personal or emotional discoveries. She hopes that her works generate curiosity beyond the work itself— personal curiosity where the audience asks questions that probe their inner selves and inspire release.
“Good artwork for me— there's a lot of honesty in it.”
Artists, according to Türkoğlu, undergo a similar process of release during production; good artwork comes from a "personal urge" that must be scratched, a surrender in response to the impact of something else. She says when honesty in artwork is strong enough, it reaches the viewer’s own experience. In this way, artwork becomes a "charged totem." An artist’s personal revelation results in “good” artwork, and in turn, good artwork inspires the audience’s own revelations. The transference of energy through a totemistic artwork results in cascades of cathartic release for those involved.
“I like honoring moments that have touched me.”
Türkoğlu herself engages in this dynamic of cathartic release by embedding her artworks with personal experiences. Her artworks span from her interest in nature, considering bodies as geographies, and her Turkish origins. She says, “I want to honor these [important] moments because they’re worthy… A lot of people go through similar situations but don’t get the chance to honor these moments or spend time with them. I do have this opportunity.” Upon questioning if her artworks are a monument to her life, she says, “they’re monumental of the psychological because they’re so composed. We keep it all within. We present ourselves with our smiles and hellos, and everything is very much contained.” Türkoğlu's artworks, then, are a representation of freedom. Through her work, she releases and memorializes her inner self.
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