Volkan Ergen is a Turkish artist who works with the image: photos, videos, visual shows. And music is his ‘ripping assistant’, that makes the visions stronger.
The first thing that impressed me the most about his works was the beautiful light and colours, like a sensual veil covering landscapes and people. Because Turkey is a very powerful land, rich in perfumes, art, traditions and bright images… Let us reveal you a small piece of it.
You were born and you grew up in Samsun, how was your childhood here? Do you have any particular memories that you want to share with us?
My childhood was magnificent, I saw the subjects like something bigger than life itself. The creative that moves continuously inside me was directing outside of me, we were dragged, both of us. White clothes were hanging on a simple apparatus mounted on the stove, stacked to dry… When my mother stepped down to wood bin, a small fire started… wooden house, hot fire.
Can you tell us something about your country, Turkey? What is it like being an artist living here?
The art is great. I can create even in a cave… so cold, so hot, crowd, silence: it is not important. My country is like an attic of the size of the oceans, where everything is accumulated, where stuff with the lowest possibility of being adjoined and exhibited were stacked, accompanied with a magic dust cloud. It is an amusement park, designed for being a surprise at any time.
In your pics we see a stunning mix of lights, nature and human element. What is the relationship between them?
My invisible bounds exist with all of these, human, nature and me, we are a defective triangle. As to leave the bodies into the nature makes pellucid the fleshes, so displaying a more internal journey is my purpose, at every turn the happiness and the feeling of being swatted, getting smaller and vanishing.
How do you retouch digitally your pictures and videos? I mean, what are you trying to express with their manipulation, what are you looking for?
I use all the editing programs. Moreover it doesn’t matter, because generally I search for the simplest editing method which is possible. Visual effects are provided with the simple cinecamera movements, illusions, powders and toys instead of effects; the performer, me and the nature, we are in privacy and alone. While shooting and editing I avoid the objects and the details that can reveal the date, the season and the space: it is like to play on another planet, this is what I search for.
What is the relationship between your visual works and music? I know that you were studying at the Istanbul Conservatory and then you experienced some bands…
I am a musician since I was born. I generate percussion and voice processing in-line. About the relation with the video: music is a minutely dough that covers the movie, it is an agent which strengthen your expression, that makes familiar the scenes and integrates them, it is a ripping assistant.
And what about electronic music, what is your relation with it?
Percussions are not proper instruments for creating long voice. On the stage during the performance, especially if there is a video show in, to create a cinematic sound I put in the game every kind of digital and analogue equipment, that includes hair brush, epilator, etc. Thus I metamorphose the voice scale and the significant reflexion of my instrument, I ruin the structure and I make it belonging to me, I make it familiar to my inner voice.
I love your videos ‘Metempsychosis’ and ‘Psychic communication’. What do they represent?
‘Psychic communication’ is the result of a connection, the story of the invisible ropes, it is a portrayal of the communication of the sculptures, the flags and the ornaments in the city. In the case of ‘Metempsychosis’, it is the representation of the connection of two bodies and the connection of their parts with each other, becoming solid. It was fictionalized on the increasing of the parts, slowly, in company with a mhythologic dance and music in the meantime, that becomes transparent and interfused.
I read in your biography ‘So and so, in the end of 2008, with the video recorder I’ve lost myself (again) and started wandering and becoming more and more transparent in the pool of joy that I composed myself’. Can you explain it better to us?
2008 is the year I met with my camera, I started to shoot movies immediately, accumulating a lot of things in my eyes, and I were producing continually. It was so new and exciting for me. A great pleasure suchlike to fall in love, to rave, to intensify, all my feelings shined and met in the same cupboard.
What artists or personalities do you admire the most?
I am in love with many people, this big need for the word “to feel”, a causeless loneliness, inability never stops to follow me…Vincent Moon, Bart Hess, Michael Philip Manheim, Iris van Herpen, Umit Unal, Oleg Dou, David Maisel, Craig Murray…
What are your everyday life inspirations? What music, movies, books do you like the most?
Each cell in the universe: Sainkho Namtchylak, Supersilent, Pleq, Şevket Akıncı, Otobüs (Tunç Okan), Akrebin Yolculuğu, Anayurt Oteli (Ömer Kavur), Dönersen ıslık çal (Orhan Oğuz), Kosmos (Reha Erdem), Kasaba (Nuri Bilge Ceylan).
A good artist is always a dreamer, what are your visions?
I agree with you, except for the word always, “it” involves an obligation and it worries me.
If aliens came onto earth, what place would you show them to make them understand our culture?
The Pazar, Cunda Island and Kadıköy: the flat of Zeynep Cin.
Define your art and yourself in five words:
Adoration, body, soul, dream, sensation or one two three four five.
If you can choose a weird place for an exhibition, where would it be?
I want to open my rib cage and put you up in my “inside”.
Things you can’t live without are:
I think that reify my dreams is inevitable for me, they can fold to any form, whatever I have in my drawer for that moment.
Do you have any message for the world?
Yes, I have.
Interview by Chiara Sestini