ORHAN CEMÇETİN’S New Photography Exhibition“YENİÇAĞ”/“NEW AGE”
Orhan CemÇetin‘s name is one of the first that comes to mind whenever contemporary photography is mentioned in Turkey. His long-waited personal exhibition finally met with art-lovers in the new location ofSanatorium Galeri.
Çetin, who is known for his multi layered context shifts and his interpretations, this time surprises the visitors with his frames that point to life itself, to blockages of meaning in visual witnessing that requires no other changes. In addition to the New Age series, striking works from the never before seen”Perfecture Takes Time” series can be seen in the exhibition. Here is our pleasant conversation with the artist who does readings on Personal/Social/A New Age with his photographs that are unusual for his style;
Y.S. You deviated from your style and what’s expected of you with this exhibition. How did the idea for this exhibition emerge?
O.C.Ç. The idea emerged when I saw absurd scenes in my surroundings and began to photograph them. I don’t habitually carry a camera with me. Actually, I begin to take photos after I develop a concept. But this time, after photographing a weird, meaningles scene or two during the times when I had my camera with me by luck and noticing that their number increased, the exhibition developed.
Especially the photo in which Haydarpaşa Train Station burns made me understand what I was trying to do. Following that, I began to carry a camera with me at all times. And after that, I began to witness scenes like that more and more. There are photos from many different parts of Turkey. They are mostly taken in the last year and a half. There are a few old photos, but mostly they are frames from the end of 2010 and 2011.
Y.S. The relationship between the exhibition and expectations from 2012?
O.C.Ç. In this period where the world changes – especially in 2012 -, ironically there is much talk about that there will be another leap, that we will pass to another dimension. And we really see that states’ politics, nation or state structures, global economic system are being shattered as a whole. There are changes in regimes in many places. We are watching people rebel, European Union dissolve. I mean many systems began their disintegration this way. It’s as if this disintegration is reflected on daily life, too.
An instability. Just like not knowing how to act, which values to keep. I guess there is something like this that comes forward in these photos. I mean like a real life reflection of the world’s confusion. And not only on the personal scale; scenes like this confronted me even in institutional buildings, as in AKM.
Y.S. Okay, an exhibition out of your style was formed. What kinds of reactions did you get; positive, negative?
O.C.Ç. I didn’t hear anything negative, but it is already known that in every way I change a photograph, use new techniques, manipulate it much more; even if I use analog, I use alternative methods. Photos this time are very pure, instant photos. Ones that I cannot change back in any way. Because I don’t need to do anything. Change is in itself…
Therefore, I was supposed to not do anything in any way. So, classical instant photos that you know. Actually this was perceived a bit wrongly. It was thought I changed to this style permanently. Of course, there is no such thing. This is something developed for this exhibition. This content requires this kind of style.
Y.S. Will you keep on using a classical style in your future projects?
O.C.Ç. I could continue this series and it would go on with this understanding. But I still do what people expect from me, too. This is my current agenda. And these photographs reflect this. Thus, I share whatever I see with people.
Y.S. Two different series attract attention in this exhibition. Is there any connection between the macro photographs and others?
“Perfection Takes Time” series which is being exhibited with New Age was actually a series that was already completed but had some kind of a dialogue with New Age. Older works but still from the new age. These are extremely close captioned moldy or rotten food details. Here is somehow being rotten and stinky and useless. Here is a new formation. Something else is forming from the inside. I mean what we think of as thrash, done for, contains a perfect, very fancy architecture. Another formation that looks perfect in another scale appears from inside. I guess this series saves the New Age series from being pessimistic. It is a series that has hope. Details that seem absurd or decaying to us might possibly be the birth of another form that is unexpectedly very new and magnificent! I hope I’m not wrong. Otherwise we’re in a terrible situation.
Sometimes I ask people this:“Which creature is on top of the food chain?” Everybody answers human being. This is an answer that shows we’re too arrogant. Subtitle of the series is‘One day I will be very beautiful.’ To wit, someday they will beautify me this way, too.
Y.S. Taking macro photos in a panoramic way, could you tell us a little bit about this technique?
O.C.Ç. This process takes place with photographs taken as a series using a certain logic and a pasting software. Adding photos to each other is usually used with landscapes. It is a technique used either to form very, very wide panoramas or to get very high resolutions. I applied it to macro.
Y.S. So, can we say this was the first time that this technique was used on macro?
O.C.Ç. I can’t say so, just because I don’t know about it. I haven’t seen it before.
Because I take them from real close, you can’t get these suitable to pasting frames from the pan technique where you turn the camera around on a regular tripod. Because the depth of the area changes the angle in the pan movement, a detail that is focused in a frame becomes defocused in the next one. As a result, they don’t fit on top of each other. Because of this, I developed a mini camera dolly and took these photos with that. The goal was to increase the resolution. The details were needed to be seen. If I were to take this photograph as a single frame, it would be absolutely impossible for these details to be seen when I enlarged it to these dimensions using a standard camera.
Y.S. What are you doing now? You’re a lecturer at a university, does the same job continue?
O.C.Ç. Yes, I’m the head of İstanbul Bilgi University Photography and Video programme and am a lecturer. I usually attend classes on Galata Fotoğrafhanesi Fotoğraf Akademisi (Galata Photohouse Photography Academy) where we give long lectures on documentary photography and press photography. From time to time I shoot editorials. I continue with my art-works with artists from different art disciplines. I write essays.
Y.S. Thank you so much for the conversation.