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Paris
Pym18 Py0714 Pycelina_16_300 Py0705 Pym21 Pym20 Py0201 Py0301 Py0406
'rak'rüm (noun);
the back room of an art gallery
where artists and art lovers hang
Py0201
Untitled (Maria series), Pinar YolacanPinar Yolacan, Untitled (Maria series),
2007, C-print; Ed of 6, 40 x 30 in
© Courtesy of the Artist and Rivington Arms, NY
Untitled (Maria series), Pinar YolacanPinar Yolacan, Untitled (Maria series),
2007, C-print, Ed of 6, 40 x 30 in
© Courtesy of the Artist and Rivington Arms, NY
Untitled (Maria series), Pinar YolacanPinar Yolacan, Untitled (Maria series),
2007, C-print, Ed of 6, 40 x 30 in
© Courtesy of the Artist and Rivington Arms, NY
Untitled (Maria series), Pinar YolacanPinar Yolacan, Untitled (Maria series),
2007, C-print, Ed of 6, 40 x 30 in
© Courtesy of the Artist and Rivington Arms, NY
Untitled (Maria series), Pinar YolacanPinar Yolacan, Untitled (Maria series),
2007, C-print, Ed of 6, 40 x 30 in
© Courtesy of the Artist and Rivington Arms, NY
Untitled (Maria series), Pinar YolacanPinar Yolacan, Untitled (Maria series),
2007, C-print, Ed of 6, 40 x 30 in
© Courtesy of the Artist and Rivington Arms, NY
Untitled, Pinar YolacanPinar Yolacan, Untitled,
2002, C-print, 40 x 32 3/8 in
© Courtesy of the Artist and Rivington Arms, NY
Untitled, Pinar YolacanPinar Yolacan, Untitled,
2003, C-print, 40 x 32 3/8 in
© Courtesy of the Artist and Rivington Arms, NY
Untitled, Pinar YolacanPinar Yolacan, Untitled,
2004, C-print, 40 x 32 3/8 in
© Courtesy of the Artist and Rivington Arms, NY
Untitled, Pinar YolacanPinar Yolacan, Untitled,
2001, C-print, 40 x 26 5/8 in
© Courtesy of the Artist and Rivington Arms, NY
Untitled, Pinar YolacanPinar Yolacan, Untitled,
2004, C-print, 40 x 32 3/8 in
© Courtesy of the Artist and Rivington Arms, NY
Untitled (from the Maria series), Pinar YolacanPinar Yolacan, Untitled (from the Maria series),
2007, C-print, 42 x 30 inches
© Pinar Yolacan
Pinar Yolacan works in the tradition of photographic portraiture. Using a variety of unusual and unexpected meat and poultry products to adorn her sitters with, Yolacan investigates feminist, political and art historical concerns in her enigmatic and sometimes shocking work. EDUCATION B. F.A Cooper Union School of Art New York, 2004 B.A, Chelsea School of Art and Design, Fine Art Media, London 2001 ...[more]


RackRoom
Interview with Pinar Yolacan

Born in Ankara, Turkey, and currently residing in Brooklyn, New York, Pinar Yolacan received a BA in Fashion Design and Marketing at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London; a BA in Fine Art Media from the Chelsea School of Art and Design in London; and a BFA from Cooper Union School of Art in New York.  Pinar's two recent photographic series, Perishables and Maria, both involve exquisite portraits of women dressed in sculptural articles made from meat or poultry that Yolacan designed specifically for her models.

In speaking of her project, Maria, in November, 2007, Yolacan states:  This project was produced in the island of Ithaparica, Bahia, off the northeastern coast of Brazil. The island is about forty minute boat ride away from Brazil's third biggest city Salvador, which was once the largest port of slave trade in the new world.  For this project I photographed Afro-Brazilian women who lived on the island. Their ages vary between 27-90.  In this series, titled ‘Maria', there are twenty-two photographs...The women's garments are made out of fabric I bought in local fabric stores and of placenta and other animal parts that I bought in Salvador's São Joaquim market.  I was particularly interested in placenta because it's a female organ that develops during birth. Most of the clothes are inspired from the Baroque era and Portuguese colonial style architecture in Salvador. There is also lots of draping - similar to biblical statues.

Currently in Turkey for her exhibition, "Maria," at the Yapi Kredi Foundation in Istanbul, Pinar provided the following interview by Mine Haydaroğlu,  which is included in the catalogue produced for the show:

Pinar Yolacan, Untitled (Maria series), 2007, C-print, Ed of 6; 40 x 30 in; Courtesy of the Artist and Rivington Arms, NY


Mine Haydaroğlu:  When I first saw your series titled "Perishables," I immediately thought that you were challenging the Portrait Tradition in Western Art History.  I think now with your series titled "Maria," you have carried your stance to a fantastic new level!  It is known that the Western Portrait tradition begins with Jesus and Mary, the church, the cardinals, continues with kings, queens and people of authority, then finally includes ordinary people.  In this tradition, people from Non-Western areas have hardly been depicted.  And the people who challenged this tradition were mostly interested in the differences and contradictions in the West.  You are actually interfering in this firmly built tradition that also challenged itself-but within itself, and reversing it.  What would you like to say about this?

Pinar Yolaçan:  I think that I do reverse the tradition of making portraits of the religious icons or people of certain classes such as the women in Brazil, whom are considered a minority, the Afro-Brazilian Bahianas. Obviously one of the main reasons why I named the project "Maria" is because many of my subjects do have the name of Maria, and it is a sign of their inherited Christianity. Yet none of them looked like the classical depictions of "Maria" - nor like contemporary culture icons like Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan, whom I think are much adored today with their stories of youth, sin, sacrifice, suffering, beauty and child bearing, which is essentially reflecting modern versions of Maria's much celebrated story.  We see more and more women like them in popular magazines today in a society governed by the right wing with Catholic traditions, and in 2008 we live like we are in the Victorian Era or the 1950's.

Pinar Yolacan, Untitled (Maria series), 2007, C-print, Ed of 6; 40 x 30 in; Courtesy of the Artist and Rivington Arms, NY


MH:  And you chose to work with Afro-Brazilian women because...?

PY:  In ("Maria") my portraits, (which are composed quite formally) I am using women that aren't immediately identified as upper class or aristocratic: the Bahianas. Yet, I think, they look quite regal in their posturing and in the garments that they were asked to wear.

It is interesting that, although black women in real life do have so many issues, post slavery and post civil rights, which often involve sacrifice, suffering and child bearing, they still aren't identifiable as icons of worship.  Is it because they don't actually look like Maria?  In today's popular culture, at least in the context of North America, black women are either portrayed as anime or hybrid (Chris Ofili's paintings remind me that) sort of a half human, or they are dressed up as white women (i.e. Beyonce, Tyra Banks).  In Europe, however, they are invisible altogether. Obviously, black working class women aren't conventionally people to be envious of, and I suppose traditionally it is the royalties or aristocracy (and currently celebrities) that usually have their portraits painted or statues built, because they posses the 'looks' and money.'  There are also some very contemporary artists who paint celebrities, such as Elizabeth Peyton.

MH:  What are the clothes made out of?

PY:  I used cow's placenta which is this very cheap type of organ/meat side by side with these "luxurious" fabrics which is ironic because raw meat can be associated with this idea of primitiveness. I was definitely inspired by the Baroque period and architecture in designing the garments and wanted to use materials like leopard skin prints, satin and velvet which signify wealth and are also often used in the formal paintings of that period. I also like the idea of placenta as an organ which only women can grow, during the child bearing process. 

Pinar Yolacan, Untitled (Maria series), 2007, C-print, Ed of 6; 40 x 30 in; Courtesy of the Artist and Rivington Arms, NY


MH:  In general, how have the Non-Western subjects been viewed in the Western Tradition of Portraiture? 

PY:  Black people are hardly visited in the tradition of portraiture. If you go to the Met, you won't see any oil painting portraits or statues of black people in the Renaissance galleries, only their objects and arts and crafts from "primitive" Africa.  Although slavery and African migration happened in the Renaissance era, the most popular period in European art, when you look at art history books and visit the Met, there is nothing but green European  landscape, white males and occasionally a few white females making out in rich velvet and satiny linens.

MH:  Your  portraits almost look like anthropological photographs but they also look like paintings. Why did you choose the medium of photography in realising this project?

PY:  I did look at a lot of turn of the century photography taken by "anthropologists on the field", and to me it was very obvious the photographs were taken by middle aged white man, in search of "reason" and "evidence". As much as Middle East and North Africa were fascination for these people,  the tropics, like Bahia, with its climate and different flora and fauna were also extremely exoticized, like its people. In my work, I don't use photography as means of documentation, I instead collaborate with my subjects in the entire process from dressing them up in this flesh garments to taking a studio portrait of them. The work is obviously away from this effort of providing "evidence" or "truth" of these people which is usually thought as the purpose of photography. However, they also have this painterly quality to them, which makes them look quite realistic, because the composition often is seamless, such as the transition between organic to nonorganic, i.e. skin to fabric. So you have these Afro-Brazilian women but they are not pictured naked in the bushes in the exotic sense or in the favella in the "Third World" sense. There is a collaboration.

MH:  In "Perishables", you casted your own models. How did you find your models in Brazil, how did you work with them, was it easy to work with them, what did you speak about, etc.?

PY:  The process was very similar to "Perishables."  I also did casting in Brazil.  Fortunately, I had a few local people helping me in their villages with the language, talking to the women. It started with word of mouth, people telling their neighbours and friends about the project, then a little newspaper interviewed me, so a lot of people in the island recognized me. I was also on the local radio in the island, so a lot of people knew about the project. Then, me and another person who was helping me went to all parts of the island on a motorcycle and spoke to the women everywhere we went, literally going to everyone's house, in every village on the island. I am grateful to the people who helped me there, because otherwise it would have been impossible to pull the project together. In general people thought the project was kind of weird, but they thought I was this harmless girl.  I held photo sessions a few times a week, with approximately 3 women each day coming to the studio. In general the reactions weren't too different than elsewhere I worked including NY and Europe, although it was a much different setting.

MH:  Both "Perishables" and "Maria" are filled with references to art history; and they also remind us of universal themes like being temporary, aging and death. Some people are bothered by these works; some like them a lot.  What do you think about death, being temporary, getting old, the body?   

PY:  I think taking a portrait of someone, or painting it or drawing it or making a sculpture of someone, are all related to this effort of capturing time and keeping it, being able to store it. And sometimes time is a way to manifest a story about a particular image; and that to me is what the whole image/icon worshipping is about. Everyone wants to be remembered young, not when they are fifty; but age is a tricky thing, because even with the US presidential race today you can see how much race and gender plays a role. If Hillary or Obama were 30 years older than they are now, most likely nobody would be listening to them, whereas if a (Republican) white man was older, I am sure he would be getting more respect, he would be considered "regal".

Pinar Yolacan, Untitled, 2002, C-print, 40 x 32 3/8 in.; Courtesy of the Artist and Rivington Arms, NY


MH:  "Perishables" and "Maria", they are both photograph and sculpture at the same time. These works are first of all molded like sculptures. And then the art of photography joins the process. A continuous quality that is both in "Perishables" and "Maria" is the harmony of the clothes with the body. And then the photographic values, the light, and the qualities of the paper meet the eye. Can you tell us again about how you work, can you explain the production process a little more?  For example, do you sketch, do you adjust the lights, etc.?

PY:  Yes. In "Perishables", the project was shot with daylight, and I thought that kind of light really worked on the light skinned women and the clothes, and it was very still life in a way. In "Maria", I used flash strobes; and the idea with not having a still light source was that, I had to imagine what was going to be lit, what was going to be glossy and what was going to stay matt. So the whole process was a bit like painting, and having these matt surfaces and  glossy surfaces, darkness and brightness, and that was inspired from some women having matt and shiny complexion.  Most of the time, I take a picture of the material that I want to use with a digital camera - and if I will shoot with flash in the actual shoot, then I take a flash picture with the digital camera and see how it actually looks on the camera. That's how I work with everything that will be in the project, the subjects, the meat, the fabrics. I think in most cases this is what makes them look more sculptural, because obviously you can give something shape and form with light.

MH:  What are your future projects?

PY:  I will continue to work with the human face.


ArtSlant would like to thank Pinar Yolaçan for her assistance in making this interview possible.

-- Mine Haydaroğlu

FORMER RACKROOMERS

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