Yıldız Moran Arun: The Lady Who Touches The Light

“A dream you dream alone is only a dream.
A dream you dream together is reality.” – John Lennon

Yıldız Moran, is one of the pioneers on photography in Turkey; she is the first schooled woman photographer. However, her existence on the intellectual field is much more than that; she is also a dictionary writer and translator. This is just her professional profile; in addition to this Yıldız Moran also has a social one: First of all, she is a human, then a woman, a lady, a mother and the wife of Halit Özdemir Arun or Özdemir Asaf as he uses.

After got an education in Robert College, at the age of 18, she starts to take photography lessons in England, first in Bloomsbury Technical College and consequently in Ealing Technical College between 1952 – 1952. After realizing five exhibitions in London and in Cambridge, she becomes a member of a photography club in Italy and then makes photo shoots in Spain and in Portugal. Later, she publishes a book about those photos.

The exhibition Timeless Photographs by Yıldız Moran
The exhibition Timeless Photographs by Yıldız Moran

She starts shooting photos in Istanbul and in Anatolia, as soon as she returns to Turkey. Three exhibitions in İstanbul and one in Ankara between February 1955 and May 1957 brings her a big success. In those days she was working in her studio located in Beyoğlu, Kallavi street number 20.

The exhibition Timeless Photographs by Yıldız Moran
The exhibition Timeless Photographs by Yıldız Moran

Nevertheless she sold 25 photos in one day in her exhibition in Cambridge, she was underrated after her return to Turkey. Therefore she wants to print and sell new year cards and that’s how she met poet Özdemir Asaf. She mentions about this meeting later as “I went to Özdemir Asaf’s print house to talk business. I can also give the exact date and time of our meeting: 4 November 1954 at 11:00. It’s hard to express in words. He was emotional, polite, colorful, all new, a completely different world to me. In short, a wonderful person…” After their marriage in 1962, until 1988 she realizes only 4 retrospective exhibitions and quits photography professionally in order to never return and starts to write dictionaries and to work as translator.

The exhibition Timeless Photographs by Yıldız Moran
The exhibition Timeless Photographs by Yıldız Moran

I define freedom as being able to choose and carrying it out consistently. I am most impressed of her understanding of freedom as I described. During an interview with Seyit Ali Ak, she explains why she decided to quit photography professionally saying, “Photography is something lived and thought 24 hours, something that can’t be seen on the second plan. The photographer is someone who can give man a part of a stage in life, conceptually intense and filled.” And continues “I had three children in four years and I dedicated all my 24 hours to them.” This decision that is rarely seen in today’s “modern” world, merges Yıldız Moran’s professional identity as photographer, translator and dictionary writer with her social identity as mother. I never had a possibility to met her but even this detail made me understand Doğan Hızlan’s words: “For over a year, in their house, I prepared Özdemir Asaf’s books to printing. I always refer her as lady, the word that nowadays is unfortunately being under use at any occasion.” She is a woman that follows her dreams. A woman that takes her steps determined, towards her dreams, her ideals, in her professional photography career, along 12 years. A woman who wants to express herself and knows that to share is to multiply. A woman that is neither idle nor superstitious, in a world that believing is the only thing to realize a dream. Those are similar ideas to Coşar Kulaksız, the curator of the exhibition has: “The ‘truth’ in photography and even the ‘truth’ in life is the impression made by experience.”

The exhibition Timeless Photographs by Yıldız Moran
The exhibition Timeless Photographs by Yıldız Moran

Some people may wonder why I used a quote of John Lennon to start this article about Yıldız Moran and they may even wonder why not a poem or a line from Özdemir Asaf. John Lennon, in his music and his words, was never shaded under The Beatles’s identity; apart being a member of the band, he followed his way with his choices. His works united many people, who never met each other, who lives in different places, who lives different lives, having different beliefs and ideas, around a focal point: A love that have its roots on dreams. The same way we see Yıldız Moran’s profile, both professionally and social. It’s simply a misjudgment for me to present this one of the most important photographers of history, firstly with her marriage with Özdemir Asaf.

There are 84 photos chosen among 8000 negatives with the help of Yıldız Moran’s children, especially Olgun and Nazlı Çetinok Arun’s, in the exhibition held in Pera Museum. When you walk around the exhibition area you find yourself observing deeply the works and later first thinking then dreaming. Both the context and the time concept of the photos, merge with the fine technique of Yıldız Moran and takes you to a different world. To witness the usage of a talent in photography that was discussed if it is art or not until recently, all along is a proof that photography is art. I was the assistant of Adriano Pedrosa in 12th Istanbul Biennial. Working, sometimes even until late in the night, the exhibition space of Yıldız Moran was in the few spaces he frequently finding me. Her works were so powerful that the influence I had from each of them separately were remarkable. It was the same effect that nailed the viewers to that exhibition space for dozens of minutes.

The 84 photos that has a character beyond its time and that you can discover something new every time you look at them, may be considered as a heritage of an important photographer on which there are still researches on the way. The exhibition Timeless Photographs by Yıldız Moran, the lady who touches the light, in Pera museum can be seen until 19 January 2014.

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