After spending my college years in Ohio, surrounded by Americana settings and varsity sports players, my works demonstrate my fascination with American masculinity. Most recently, this fascination has manifested in the form of soccer photography. Having shot macho varsity sports players who self identify as heterosexual in homoerotic settings such as locker rooms, I have returned to my alma mater, Oberlin College, to shoot a younger generation of soccer players in their original context.The series was inspired by my older photographs as a journalist documenting the college soccer games, which had, in turn, inspired the more erotic work, so in a way I find myself coming full circle. The male form also exists in a different series I am currently working on, titled Maşallah. As I grow increasingly concerned about the advent of conservative Islam in Turkey, my homeland, I have turned to traditional Islamic and Turkish patterns, which, when projected, highlight male forms in darkness. I seek to challenge the Islamic ban on depicting the human. Decorative arts flourished as a result of the ancient ban, and it excites me to use the product of the ban to make visible the human form. Maşallah also touches on the identity crisis of my generation:We may very well be the last generation to have received an education that praised secular thinking and rejected everything Ottoman. But the patterns that we regarded as representations of darker times are now being rebranded as representations of a brighter future.The ground is shifting beneath our feet, and as Ottoman culture is resurrected, elements of Western cultural content, from Twitter to The Godfather, are being censored. Using YouTube screenshots and iPhone photographs taken during the Gezi Protests of 2013, along with examples of censorship in Turkish media, I am keeping a visual record of the reimagining of Turkey
as the second coming of the Ottoman Empire. I am also trying to identify what my role is in the process of trying to hold on to a republic that no longer seems to exist. My work is about masculinity, and about the de-secularization of Turkey.
One of the greatest experiments in creating a secular democracy for a Muslim nation has failed. Since the Gezi Park Proftests of 2013, my practice has been centered on the
contemporar y condition of Generation Y in Turkey, my generation, and our struggle to redefine and asser t ourselves in a growingly conser vative political landscape. I watched birds fall from the sky as clouds of teargas enveloped my city that summer, and my father’s fingers and ribs were broken by the police. I am interested in using staged photography to challenge the root of the issue, the residual Ottoman mentality that embraces a totalitarian regime. Contemporary political discourse in Turkey celebrates a reinterpreted, shining Ottoman rule that had no faults, no decay, no corruption. Day by day, this narrative is (super)imposed on us. In this body of work, I use projections of patterns scanned from various publications put out by the Turkish Ministr y of Tourism and Culture, and designs from Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, to illuminate figures in darkness. Depicting the human is taboo in Islamic culture, and ornamental geometry and fractal art have developed as a result of this ban. I am interested in breaking this rule, using the product of the rule itself. While these pattern associated with Ottoman culture can be quite attractive, Ottoman governance practices embraced by the current ruling party have proven to be quite oppressive. Through the series Maşallah, I have been attempting to navigate the conflicts and alienation that arise as a result of the dual nature of my heritage.