Mamut Limited Vol.1 pop-up, the first exhibition of the Mamut Art Project team's Mamut Limited (Artist Editions) project, which aims to meet all creative people working in different fields and techniques from visual arts to design, music to fashion, took place at Yapı Kredi bomontiada between September 16 - October 1, 2023. We are introducing the artists of this year's Mamut Limited, which will present special selections throughout the year on its online platform mamutlimited.com. Our third guest is Can Büyükkalkan
Let's start by talking about your artistic journey. At the beginning of high school, you realized your interest in photography thanks to the suggestion of your uncle who was a cameraman. You also have a career as a professional fashion photographer. How do you define being an artist? Do you have any criteria for your work, or do you blend everything in your practice?
I think anyone who can inspire someone is an artist. I am happy if I can inspire someone too. I don't separate my productions, on the contrary, I try to bring them together at the same point.
How does your local culture and environment influence your artistic work? Do the materials and techniques you use find an echo in this interaction network?
Well, I can say that this is how everything came about. I was born and raised in Izmir. Since the first day I moved to Istanbul, I felt like something was missing. My warm sunny beach life had suddenly found itself in a cloudy and chaotic city. I realized this over time and tried to Izmirize Istanbul in my mind. I tried to find locations in Istanbul with palm trees and spend time there, I turned a part of my house into a cactus paradise. Then this started to be reflected in my work. I can say that I owe my current style to this. You can see it more easily in my fashion shoots, my work goes back and forth between a certain color scale.
I created a studio for myself on the terrace with A4 papers and started to use the items in the house. I love the first light of the morning. There were days when I set an alarm for five in the morning and woke up to take photos even though I had nothing to do. Sometimes it was salt, sometimes pasta, sometimes I wanted to add a different aesthetic by photographing the pictures I drew. The pandemic process taught me to see the objects around me in a different way.
The photographs we saw at Mamut Limited emerge from your frustration of not being able to create anything at home during the pandemic. What was the practice of getting up at first light every morning and turning the bed into a studio, and what did it bring to you and your work?
Before the pandemic, I was a character who worked day and night. I worked for many years without even a weekend vacation. The pandemic was a test for me. For the first time, I had to spend time at home without working. I spent a few days getting used to my house where I had lived for years. I realized the value of my terrace, which I had never appreciated. I realized that although I lived in a house with a lot of sunshine, I had never been able to make use of it. I was spending the best hours of the day either retouching in a dark room in the office or shooting in a huge studio. Like everyone else, I tried to take up different hobbies. I painted, made music, watched training videos on different subjects, even though I knew I was not very successful, but it was not enough. I wanted to take photographs, but I started to think about what I could take at home, and then I decided to get rid of big objects and proceed in a more minimal way. I started to develop my eye on the minimal side. I created a workshop for myself on the terrace with A4 papers, I started to evaluate the things in the house. I love the first light of the morning. There were days when I set an alarm for five in the morning and woke up to take photographs even though I had nothing to do. Sometimes it was salt, sometimes pasta, sometimes I wanted to add a different aesthetic by photographing the pictures I drew. The pandemic process taught me to see the objects around me differently.
Can Büyükkalkan, Kumkuat, Fine Art Print, 70×56 cm or 80×100 cm, Edition 5+1
Based on the materials that are the subject of your works in the exhibition, what do you think is the reason why the simple is powerful?
The only reason why the simple is powerful is because the other party feels that it is not that simple.
I heard that you have a problem with the eyes of fish, can I hear about it from you? What did photographing fish mean to you?
After the pandemic, new bans were being lifted and the streets were still empty. The day after New Year’s Day, I wanted to go out and walk around. I ended up on the Galata Bridge and the fishermen were still there, so I started chatting with the fishermen and examining the fish they caught. Many of them were still alive, many had already lost their lives. At that time, I started photographing the fish, trying to capture their movements in the tiny buckets. Thanks to the fisherman’s warning, I realized that I had been looking into the same bucket for almost an hour and continuing to photograph them. When I returned home, while looking at the photos, I noticed the absence of eyelids and did some research on this subject. It turns out that fish keep their eyes open even when they are sleeping. When I realized that the light in their eyes disappeared when they lost their lives, I preferred to somehow remove them from my frame or use them hidden in my photographs.
Can Büyükkalkan, Lotus, Fine Art Print, 70×56 cm or 80×100 cm, Edition 5+1
For you, is producing a successful work about personal satisfaction or appreciation from the art world? Why?
For me it is about personal satisfaction. If I have been able to realize something that I have imagined in my head and I have the courage to present it, it means that I have already achieved something for myself.
Photography is a bit like painting. I have been an imaginative person since my childhood. I don't know if it's for this reason, but I think about that photo for days before I make a photo. At first, I take that photo in my mind and then I bring it to life.
How do you balance the artistic and technical aspects of photography to achieve the results you want?
Photography is a bit like painting. I don't know if it's because of this or not, but I think about a photograph for days before I create it. A first, I take that photograph in my mind and then I bring it to life. This is where the technique comes into play.