© anicelikarevyan 2020


    Ani Çelik Arevyan


    "AS IS"

    September 2018 Interview

    You were not exhibiting for a while, now you return with a large scale show.  When we look at these works we see that two photographs come together and form a diptych; they transform into one photograph.  How do you interpret this series with your statement of “making photograph” which was always relevant for your previous photograph series?


    This series stand out of my photography practice so far.  I always started off with the statement that “I do not take photograph, I make photograph”.  Because until now I produced the photographs of things I have conceived in my mind.  If I have to explain this through my works in “Nothing is As It Seems” and “Traces of This World” series I turned the conceptions in my mind to compositions.  In “As Is” series I turned the projections on my photographer’s view into compositions; the projections of what is already there, what is existent independent of my thinking…  Indeed both cases correspond to what I call as making photograph.  There exists a very similar yet antithetical practice between these two.


    What brings these together, what turns them into one photograph looks like form, light and some similarities at the first glance but I am sure there are other connections, can you talk about these a little?


    In these years when I returned to my archive, I started to establish dialogues between my photographs.  As if you find an old encyclopedia in the attic and leaf through it and find something inside…  Like this I returned to the photographs in my archive made some chosen items visible and formed this series.  Among 95.000 photographs I made 271 works.  For me these diptychs form a single photograph with the story they tell when they come together side by side.  The single images in these diptychs bear meaning only to a certain extent according to my view.  They can only be a part of the series when they enter a dialogue with the other image next to them.  I wanted people to find their own dialogues and continue when they look at these simple, plain images.  In some of the photographs you can see the togetherness of forms, motifs, or lighting conditions.  Yet when you look at the whole series and ask yourself “Why these two are together?” for some of the works, at that instance another point comes into play, one step afar.  After working on them I realized most of these photographs in this series were taken with an almost encyclopaedical interest.  In most of them I have focused on one subject matter; a bus, a tree, a statue, a barrel, eclairs, a roof etc.…  This is something I have discovered only later when I look at the photographs.  In a sense when I look at these images I see that I wanted to start with deadpan aesthetic and go one step further.  Even though there are associations of forms in the photographs, I think most of them resemble each other in an affectual context.


    How your state of mind played a role as you bring these photographs together?  Maybe I should correct this as how your state of mind in different periods played a role.  Sometimes when taking a photograph you consider or feel a previous photograph of yours.  The state of mind you were in while reviewing your archive must have influenced the process of making photographs.


    For example when we look at a war photograph we can more or less understand the photographer’s state of mind and feelings.  There is a dramatic aspect and as we look at the photograph and charge ourselves with the same feelings we can sense not only what that photograph shows but also the general condition of the war field.  However in my photographs neither you are interested in the photographer’s state of mind nor you even question that in the first place.  As the viewer you are only interested in why these two images come together.  Indeed when I assemble these photographs together I consider my own state of mind and feelings while was taking them; I bring them together because these two states of mind converge.  I want the viewers to discover their own dialogues in each and every different work.  I want the viewers to see them together rather than one by one, then they can arrive at a different level of perception and I think this carries the viewer to another world, to another story.


    Actually I started the interview with while forming these diptychs the most visible are the associations between forms but there must be unconscious associations in operation too.


    Of course we are influenced by a number of things, beginning with birth, our life experiences, we see works of other artists -I am widely influenced by Renaissance painting for example- all of these orient the artist in her production.  When I take a photograph I give some decisions with certain aesthetic concerns in a few seconds.  Then time passes -this can be a few years, or decades- when I recognize a similar form or a similar feeling existing in a previous photograph I realize the potential and I take that new photograph.  Actually these photographs not only rest in my archive but they also linger in my memory.  In that regard their place in my heart is more important than their place in my archive.  Then I bring these two together.  For each photograph I can tell the time and place of the photograph and my state of mind while taking it.  For that reason bringing these photographs together was very easy for me.  I mean that was not a project like I had a photograph in my hand searching for its appropriate match.

    While I was composing this series I realized my own way of thinking which orientates my production process.  I used intuition as a method.  I like unrestricted and indefinite expressions because we don’t exactly know that where we are positioned in time.  Indeed this series is about that.  The aggregation of photographs shot at different times reflects our ambiguous place in time.  Every artist has a way of thinking a way to approach things.  My own production process also evolves in its continuity and therefore I also change.  Without any fixed storyline or pursued regularity (in time, exact hour, place or period) I have rediscovered tendencies in my photography practice through thinking on forms and motifs yet most especially contemplating light, and affect.  In other words, I have discovered my own photography practice in a rather simplified fashion.


    So if we consider your previous works what kind of similarities they have with this current series?


    Time is a very central concept in this series too, like it was in my previous works.  If I have to give an example I can talk about “Between Life and Death” (1998) series which includes photographs reflecting a projection on performance art.  The number of people who is witnessing an actual dance or performance event is always limited, video and photograph but especially photograph help these performances to be permanent and through these media they are etched in our memories.  In that period I was very much interested in ballet and dance and I had a passion to make my photographs starting from there.

    In “Traces of This World” series there are double images too, in other words these photographs are composed of two layers, a dialogue develops between figure and nature.  Actually this is something deeper, it is a state without a date and out of time.  In “As Is” series too there’s no indication of time, sometimes you can guess that from the architectural elements but this is not intended, that’s why photographs taken at different times can come together very easily.  In “As Is” series, when two images are assembled together they do not bear the same meaning when they were single, when they were on their own...  They embody a different meaning, a different expression together.  These double images transform into small narratives in their own right.


    We call it “Snap!” in order to describe the look alike photographs.  This might mean to shoot when you recognize the frame and remember another similar photograph.  Alternatively because of the curiosity already rooted in all photographers, a curiosity that can turn in an obsession at times, you can take photographs that resemble each other, through a drive rising from the unconscious, with or without making the conscious connection between what you see and its connotations.  Your work made me remember this situation somehow.


    An artist friend of mine came to my studio, saw the photographs and said: “You mention 1990 and now it’s 2018, aren’t there any technical differences between the photographs?”  Indeed I didn’t manipulate any of the photographs.  Besides, most of them are full frame to a great extent, there is no zoom in work for highlighting a detail and there is no intervention except to eliminate the format mismatches.  That’s why I called this exhibition “As Is” so as to underline this statement.  While assembling these photographs together sometimes the final result was recognizable at first sight but I didn’t actually mean that.  Sometimes these similarities are visible when you put different double images side by side.  There are 271 photographs in total in the series and 114 of them will be shown, as much as the exhibition space allows.  I started this work in 2015 and at the beginning of 2018 I stopped, I can’t say I finished it.  I mean I stopped after finalizing 271 double images I didn’t round up or down the number of works in the series.  In certain situations your whole life flashes before your eyes like a film strip, I see these images as pieces of a film strip.  Of course these photographs were taken in different periods of my life and you can resemble them to a film strip for that reason too.  Therefore in Galata Greek Primary School they will be exhibited in the form of a film roll; we have designed an exhibition format resembling a film roll travelling around all the rooms.  I want to talk about dimensions at this point too.  A painter almost always know the final dimension of her work whether it’s on paper, canvas or whatever surface it is on.  A sculptor also more or less know about the final dimension before she starts.  However in photograph dimension might not be something fixed beforehand, dimensions of the printed photograph is determined by the preferences of the photographer.  When I start to make a photograph I fix its dimension before I finalize it.


    For me the toughest part of this exhibition might be a fatigue and the perception shutting down after a certain point from the side of the viewer trying to look at the photographs with attentive eyes in order to understand them.  For that reason I thought it might be hard to tour the whole exhibition at once.  It is not easy to look at that much of images all at once and try to make the connections. 


    It might be a tiresome exhibition that’s true but I think it will be an exhibition people want to spend time in it on their own.  I preferred to print the works in this exhibition on diasec because framing them would not work in my opinion.  Since these are pieces of a film strip it’s not right to frame them and tear them apart from each other.  An unbounded alignment is necessary.  What I specifically want to do with the photograph is to be able to evoke the dialogue with the background rather than just showing what already and clearly manifests itself.  Nevzat Sayın made a very nice exhibition design and I think it will have a positive effect on the way exhibition is visited.


    What is the influence of your fashion photography background on your career?  I remember that your fashion photographs were conveying a sense of being staged too.


    Actually I did not have a thoroughly conceptual work in my fashion photography, there are other factors than the photographer in that genre, there is something expected from you and you shoot what you see at the end.  Fashion photography had a positive influence on me since you have to be in communication with other people.  It was very enjoyable to be in dialogue with people and directing them like a conductor.  I am not a solitary artist isolating herself in her atelier and working on her own and I will not be.  I am a person who always nurtures herself with things I observe in my surroundings and social relations.

    Therefore at that period fashion photography provided a nice venue for me in the contexts of technical development, social relations and nurturing dialogues.  But I completely abandoned fashion photography in 2008.  I was always putting forth a narrative in my fashion photography, this would comfort the model too and the final work would not be only about a superficial visuality.  These were not very complicated narratives but they were making thing easier.


    Since the early 90s you are in the field, I mean in photography production and you make exhibitions.  How do you assess the development of photography in Turkey?


    The fact that art buyers include photographs in their collections in Turkey like it is the case all around the world is an indication that we have passed a certain phase.  Almost one third of all work presented as contemporary art is photograph.  Technically we can all do more or less the same things but at a certain point the idea and concept comes into play.  For that reason, putting forward very intrinsic and dense concepts is more important than technical dexterity in these days.  The gravity in the artisanship is shifting.  That’s why we live in a period in which the concerns of the artists are supposed to be more internal, technical issues lost their previous significance.  The only concern of the artist is to achieve some kind of perfection, I think this can only be possible through knowing yourself.  “As Is” series turned out to be a very proper expression for me.  We all need tools other than ourselves in order to know ourselves.  Maybe that’s why art exists in the first place…





    Zeynep Oral


    "AS IS"

    6 September 2018


    Zeynep Oral

    September 6, 2018


    Ani Çelik Arevyan’s exhibition: Creating a world



    When we enter the Galata Greek School in Karaköy, we feel that we are stepping into a different world. A world we are both very familiar with and we never know. From that moment, as if we are in a ritual. The theme of the ritual is LIGHT and TIME! Here is the light that determines the time, not the hour. Light in the past, light in the future. Connotations determining time, memories, emotions, thoughts.


    I should start all over again. I am in Ani Çelik Arevyan's exhibition titled ‘As Is’, opened at Galata Greek School. Let me explain: for me, she is a world-class photographer. Perhaps it is more accurate to say ‘photograph creator’. The ones who saw her exhibitions at Galeri Nev İstanbul, in Diyarbakır, at Women’s Museum İstanbul, and in museums in world centers are my witness.




    "Photo creator," I said. She already said “I describe the process of creating my work as making photos rather than taking photos.” She uses photography as a tool of aesthetic transformation. While conveying visual perception to us, she not only adds to the physical reality opposite it, but also adds her imagination, history, connotations, lost or stored references. In a way, she photographs the thought.


    But that doesn't mean that when you look at her photographs, you're going to think like her. No no. Everyone will make their own reading in front of those photographs, weave their own rugs, they will build their own fiction, they will tell their own story. Everyone will see something “different.” Thus and so, the meanings will grow.


    Maybe (not maybe, precisely) this exhibition is the reason why these photos being so inviting, screaming “see me, see me”, pulling each of you into each photo and not desiring to leave after.



    Binary stories


    Ani Çelik Arevyan says that she prepared this exhibition in 3 years. But the exhibition is an accumulation of years. Among the hundred thousand photographs she took from all over the world, she immersed herself in her own archive. With her meticulous and attentive work, she has put them together in two, in her mind, in her heart, in her feelings and in her senses. The resulting binary stories, like an open film strip. Like a whole life. Like saying “I love you.” Like saying the earth is great or the earth is horrible. Like saying “I've changed most.”


    Let me indicate that, the two pictures side by side, certainly are not a union of the subject; do not expect a logical explanation. Only the artist's passion for creating different visual experiences.


    A little hint: In binary stories, there can be a form, a line, a color and attention, and most of all a light to build a line. Reflection of light in water, on grass or bricks is a different adventure. Sometimes a thought, a moment, sometimes just a feeling, an urge. In the words of Ani: “The field of thought that emerged as I went through the series created a feedback loop about my photographic consciousness and my development as an artist.” Haldun Dostoğlu’ curation, Nevzat Sayın’s exhibition architecture gives this great opportunity!


    As we are not suprised by her putting together a skyscraper in New York with a dome in Venice, a detail in Versaille with a tree in Istanbul, a vine in Provence with a showcase in London; the cloud in the sky and the reflection, we also make a profit from this union.



  • SANATATAK_Aysegül Sönmez

    Ani Çelik Arevyan


    "AS IS"

    September 2018 Röpörtaj

    Your last solo exhibition “As Is” underlines a very crucial awareness about that images might not seem as they are indeed.  Maybe I should put it like this, the exhibition invites the audience to a kind of awareness.


    It’s true, there’s an invitation like that.  What brings this awareness forward is the fact that I am working with double images operating together.  What we see always bears multiple meanings.  I want to start a dialogue through putting two images side by side.  In “As Is” series images create new narratives through the dialogue among themselves.  I would like the itinerary of the audience within these narratives to pave the way for the awareness I invite to.


    When I say confiding the photograph does that mean something to you? Can we confide in the image?


    Photograph, by its nature, appear in many spheres of our lives as a credible document.  For example biometric photographs, photographs taken after a car accident, photographs used for medical purposes… Yet the photograph is interesting for me when it’s put forward as a tool of expression for the artist.  At this point the confidence you mentioned earlier transforms to confiding in art for me.  The sincerity of the artist is more visible and more decisive in the photograph I guess.


    I wonder your sources of inspiration.  What were the films or moments inspired the last exhibition?


    What attracts me most in cinema is different ways of montage.  There is no single film I can reference as the point of origin for the “As Is” series.  This series carries the traces of my travel in my own time tunnel…  I mostly watch animation and science fiction films, maybe it might sound irrelevant but when I think about this series “La La Land” comes to my mind, I thought the final scene of this film was quite impressive.  Frames from a life the main character didn’t live at the first place were parading in front of the viewers’ eyes and I thought it was interesting.  As if the character was playing with time and we were witnessing that.  Even though the scenes look like disconnected they were fusing into a common feeling.


    Exhibition seems to be distinguished with its invitation to dialogue and providing the venue for creating narratives for the audience.  Therefore we wonder about your relation with literature…  Stories, novels or poems, what do you prefer?


    Actually I mostly prefer to read autobiographies and philosophy but when you mention literature Umberto Eco comes to my mind, one of the authors I like most.  I am interested in his novels composed of intertwined stories.  “The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana” and “Baudolino” are among my most beloved books by him.  I resemble the dialogue between images and their intertwined structure in “As Is” series to the fictions of Eco novels.  Like Baudolino constantly making up stories…


    I would like to talk about your expression of “photography as contemporary art” too.  Can you share your view on the use of photograph by contemporary artists among many other media as an artist uses photography as her only medium?


    I think the answer of this question is about the way the mind works…  I cannot talk in the name of other artists.  I think the thing I want to do with photograph as light in the first place, I mean first light comes to my mind, forms and subjects follow afterwards.  I don’t know, since I always thought my works as light other media were never attractive for me.  Light is the gist of photograph, if it’s not there photograph is not there too, however light in painting is something discovered, something technically produced.  With the “As Is” series I could rediscover the way my mind operates and my way of thinking over performance (“Between Life and Death”, “Chrysalide”, “Poetics”), objects (“Still-life with Flowers”) and gestures (“A Reading”, “A Gaze”) in a more simplified fashion.  These three were the main themes my thinking gravitated towards since my early works.


    Related with the series you have mentioned I would like to talk about the way you consider femininity: “Chrysalide”, “Still-life with Flowers”, “A Reading” and “A Paradise” – even “A Gaze”…  If I say the common denominator in all these series is a definition femininity that belongs to you, what would you think?


    My main preoccupation is time.  I always followed and tracked the course of time.  I looked at time.  Maybe that’s a feminine look…   “A Reading”, “A Paradise” and “A Gaze” series narrate time.  “Chrysalide” highlights the time passing.  The subject of time might be a woman in these series, of course.  On the other hand, “As Is” series is structured upon the lapses in time.  Actually the common denominator is time in all of these series.


    Do not your previous works I mean the early works and your recent works interestingly complement each other?  There is no disengagement on the contrary they all converge in the contexts of form, light and figure?


    Thank you for this comment.  Essentially I consider all of my photographs as a whole.  It is right to the point that you mention convergence.  They all revolve around each other in my mind as if they are aligned on a circle.  Although all of them are shaped with the same view through the course of time, through my evolution their change also become visible.  Time transforms me and my photographs by making us closer to each other.  Thus I know and see myself better.  Indeed I am always interested in infinite and unbounded expressions like I always say.  In one sense it means I do not care about boundaries, because a boundary actually means disengagement.  This approach also fits with the fact that most of the photographs in “As Is” series were taken during my several journeys around the world.  In this exhibition the boundaries set by time and geography are blurred, they lose their importance.


    Do you have a conception of “women photographer” or “women artist” since we are talking about femininity and time?  Do you agree with my statement that like the image female body cannot be fixed, it is open and in a constant state of becoming?


    I do not prefer to think about the identity of the artist or the photographer in relation with a gender.  For example I can see a feminine sensibility in the work of Duane Michals who is one of my beloved photographers.  You statement reminded me in my “Chrysalide” and “Traces of This World” series the figures are in constant movement.  This state is probably related with the condition of being open and in a constant state of becoming you have mentioned.  In these photographs it’s impossible to fix the postures of female figures who are in motion, they are in a perpetual state of becoming too…







  • ARTFULLIVING_Özüm Ceren İlhan

    Ani Çelik Arevyan


    "AS IS"

    September 2018 Interviw

    Ani Çelik Arevyan: ”Something like finding an encyclopedia in the attic”.


    Artist Ani Çelik Arevyan conveys the constructions of what she thinks rather than what she sees in her works. Her photographs are composed of frames that stood out in her memories and are usually constructed in pairs that are dissociated from time and location. She is living and working in Istanbul and will exhibit her solo exhibition, composed of 144 photographs, As Is / Olduğu Gibi, on September 5, at the Galata Greek School, represented by Galeri Nev Istanbul.


    Writer: Özüm Ceren İlhan


    Ani Çelik Arevyan avoids showing the traces of a certain time and place in her photographs while mainly dealing with the concept of time. In this concept that has no beginning and no end, the artist photographs and fictionalizes what she has learned in her own life and her upcoming solo exhibition As Is confronts as a meeting with the audience of this process. We talked to Ani Çelik Arevyan about the topics and forms she has dealt with, the relationship and the production process she has established with them, on the occasion of the exhibition to be held in Galata Greek School.


    What is your relationship with the subjects and forms you have dealt with in your works?


    All of my photos are a whole. In order to understand a photograph, a series of mine, one needs to look at the previous and the next. Because, even though they all share the same understanding, their evolutions come to light with my evolution. The series As Is is a series outside of my practice so far, because I moved forward with the argument ‘I‘m not taking photograph, I’m making photograph’. Usually, I take pictures of what I've built in my mind. However, in the series As Is, I transformed the projections of what is in my mind into a composition. Although there is so much similarity between the two, there are also too many reverse sides. To me, both concepts correspond to the definition of ‘making photograph’.


    What is the reason for explaining the subjects you deal with through the discipline of photography?


    I actually studied painting for a while. Then I had an interest in dark rooms and other technical parts of the art of photography. I have a firm grasp of these techniques right now. I personally create every inch of any of my works. Neither an assistant, nor someone else helps me. From the simplest to the most difficult work, the production process of my work is entirely mine. Photography is a discipline I've been dealing with for thirty years. For some reason I believe that photography will represent my imagination and what I’m going to create better. Also, it sounds more contemporary to me. For a long time, I've only been sharing my feelings with photography and I don't think it will change much. It's like we're completing each other in a spiral, we’re developing in a loop. I don't think I'm going to give up the photography.


    Is the manipulation power of photography an approach to emphasize the conceptual aspect of your works?


    Manipulation will, of course, be done if an artist finds it necessary to describe themselves or their work. In the past period photos, there is also manipulation in sepias, blackout prints or black and white photos in a sense. They didn’t reflect the truth as they were, and were formed in the dark room by the hand of the artist. Nowadays, it’s done with Photoshop, on the computer. However, my goal is not manipulation, but rather being able to have the work of art be able to reflect the depth of my imagination. So, what I see or feel is taking me as far as it goes. Of course, there is a situation; everything is relevant to our knowledge and perceptions. For example, a tiny child cannot understand the concept of ‘galaxy’. As he's learning, he can imagine and fictionalize in his mind. I think that the work I do shows up as I identify my thoughts and feelings. The more I know, the more I learn and the more I develop myself. We learn and know something new every moment of our lives. All this has a direct impact on our production. In the meantime, I do whatever it takes to reveal my opinion. I won't hesitate. However, I never aimed to create a work of art that is built only with manipulation tools. What matters to me is the essence of the matter and my own thoughts.


    You are using the phrase “the encounters that have hidden meanings” for your exhibition. At which point do you invite the viewer to face the encounter?


    I created this series based on the similarities of some motifs, forms, lights, but mostly on the basis of my own feelings. I didn't save my photo archive to create this series, but there is a metaphor that I found myself: ‘Something like finding an encyclopedia in the attic’. When I stepped away from the information bombardment in our current lives, I think the sentimental responses from looking back have pushed me to make this series. It is possible to see certain form similarities in some photographs. But in some of them, when you can't see it, it means that I keep my own feelings there and I don't want to tell. At that moment, I want every viewer to combine my own sense with their own in the way of thinking that my photographs create, so that they can make their journey on their own.


    Can the similarity between the forms of forms be considered as a typological approach in your studies? Is the shape relation you have with the elements in the photograph become the product of an improvised search or planned selected forms?


    These are all the frames in my memory. I've got 95,000 shots, and they're all in my head. So when I see a moment and photograph it, sometimes my memory makes a connection with another photograph I have shot three or maybe thirteen years ago. I take that shot and pair it with the photograph that it reminds. Whenever I took an analog picture, I always took a single shot. There are certain dimensions. For example, we would scan f-stop to find out if it is 11 or 11.5. You can’t see the result in negative or diapositive shots without bathing the film. Nevertheless, I never stepped out of one frame, decided f-stop from the beginning and would only shoot in that diaphragm range. I take my camera and take a picture of what I see. It is always like this, whether with a cell phone or my other digital cameras. Any other way seems to me a waste of unnecessary labor, I do not approve in view of my self-respect. The first image I took is already a product of my own work, my own build-ups. So when I see its physical or emotional resemblance again, I seek it out and combine them. This is my work practice.


    You are describing the works in your exhibition as archaeological research. Do you convey the process or the result of the research to us?


    I started the series As Is three years ago and now I stopped, I'm not saying I'm done. I've never liked to force things. Series can finish here or I can add seven more series on it, time will show. In my works, my feelings and thoughts come together freely. If it's a forced shot, it's like sitting in a lecture for me and I don't like it. Let me tell of what I mean by saying archeology. It's a classic phrase, but we all live with the past, and we don't know the future. But somehow, we're alive, and we're guided by the traces of past. It’s holding us light, showing the way and keeping us on a platform. I'm glad to come back to my archive and take photos of the things I've edited up to now and make the editing of what I have done. It makes me feel very comfortable and I want to share this refreshment with the audience. That's why I make an exhibition. There are still a few series not exhibited. I enjoy all of these works, but for now I prefer not to show them. I don't want my work to follow in the same paragraph.


    In your artworks, it's like there's an emotional time. When the audience looks at the work, it seems they go back in time to when they personally felt it. This is a reading of course, how do you handle the concept of time?


    Actually, this is the right reading. For example, I was very interested in performance art in the past years. I think performance art can be permanent when recorded with photos or video. In my early works, such as the series Chrysalide, A Reading, A Paradise, you can see the sequences of a dance or gestures. These works made me handle the time in different dimensions.


    What kind of an approach does the archival culture address with the images in the photograph instead of the language image?


    Actually my photographs consist of a certain light or a random road I see that rekindles another image that I have photographed in the past. So, I can say that I did not act with the idea that I should create an archive. I didn't make any technical changes in my shootings. Technically, mastering the subject of photography itself and bringing connected images together created these works. There is time uncertainty in my works. You cannot describe the space either. I've always liked to talk about photos more. Because the photo tells everything with its existence.


    History and place behind the photo since the old times, such as the names of the person adds to it the document quality. In which aspects of a photograph do not take into account the spatial and temporal dimensions, is it a document - archive?


    There's no difference between what I took a photo yesterday and the one I took twenty years ago, and I take it as a result of my thoughts. The good thing is that it reflects the change between today’s Ani and Ani twenty years ago. I enjoy watching it and I think it should be that way. At this point, I can evaluate the concept of archive as a structure that develops and grows in itself.


    The works in the exhibition have been spreading over a period of 30 years. Associating your way of exhibiting is based on dual stories. In this process, I think you look at your comprehensive production from a different perspective. What was the experience for you, what did you encounter in this process?


    Most of my work has duality. My early works also had it. For example, in a work of mine, there are two photographs at the back and at the front on a single photo frame actually. However, in those works you can’t see anything that exists in nature. It’s just a product of my thought. I was photographing my thoughts and imagery until this series. However, the series As Is covers photographs that have emerged with the projections of what is in my mind. When images come side by side, they lose their individual meanings and another language, another expression is formed. They're turning into a story. In this series, images are in dialogue between themselves and I wanted this series to open up an inner dialogue, a thinking space in the audience.


    Can you tell us about the feelings and thoughts that you feed while creating your works in your personal exhibition As Is?


    I didn't even think I'd exhibit them. I have never taken a photograph of an angel with the thought that I will use it in an exhibition. The exhibition was born from the desire to bring these images together and reflect it to others. As I said before, it is like ‘to find an encyclopedia in the attic’. I wanted to share when I found it. I transformed the projections of the existing in my mind into a composition.


    The name of the series is “As Is”. Why did you choose this name?


    I have full knowledge of the technique I use. In this series, I haven't changed neither a cigarette stub nor a tree leaf. So the name of the series is As Is. I love the comfort of this. I’m never troubled like ‘I did a series, what to name it?’


    How and in which way the curatorial support of Haldun Dostoğlu and Nevzat Sayın's exhibition architecture affected your exhibition?


    Galata Greek School is a suitable place for my works to be exhibited. It was very right to exhibit an archive-based exhibition in such an historical place. Nevzat Sayın is an architect I like very much. When I asked him for architectural support, he accepted with great interest and love. He created the exhibition arrangement as simple as possible, by taking care of photographs and not leaving them in the background. Haldun Dostoğlu is my gallerist in the first place. Secondly, someone whose opinions I care about. I am a very dominant person in every aspect of my works. However, Mr. Dostoğlu's opinions and touches in this exhibition made me very happy.


    Do you have projects for the future?


    I have never taken a picture with the concern that I'll do a project. I start off with my emotions and there is either something or there is not. I've made an extensive exhibition. 144 of 271 photos are on display. Of course, it also requires a very serious physical work. But I can't convince myself to stop; there are other things that I want to move on to that exist in a corner of my mind. My work has been the result of compositions that I created as a result of resemblances in my memories. Most likely these other creations that currently only exist in my mind will also come out when they find the chance.






  • K24_Elif Tanrıyar

    Ani Çelik Arevyan


    "AS IS"

    September  2018 Interview

    Ani Çelik Arevyan: “My whole concern is to record the feeling of time”


    Artist photographer Ani Çelik Arevyan’s solo exhibition ’As is’, where she combines the transitions between the photographs she took in different parts of the world for nearly thirty years, into a dual arrangement, meets the audience between 5-30 September in Galata Greek School.

    Elif Tanrıyar


    “The meaning and mystery are inseparable: neither can exist without the passage of time” says John Berger. That's exactly what I'm thinking about looking at the pictures in front of me. I have a brief moment in time that I feel that my soul is stretching towards timelessness. A series of photos that follow ‘the traces of time’, yet timeless, each one deepened in a unique sense on its own, they only progress like a film strip when they come together. Both very familiar and mysterious. These two photos, which are formed by a dual arrangement, turn into an open film strip when they come together as they tell a double story.


    I have a brief moment in time and feel like my soul is stretching towards timelessness, watching / listening to these dual stories. There is something very familiar in these images that give the feeling that they never belong to any place and time. They are talking in a divine language brought by timelessness. As if your eternal soul always knows but you forget the end of your language, you can not remember, both mysterious and very familiar with the language. When you watch / listen to these binary images more, you begin to feel that you are talking about a poem about life and existence. And then I hear Berger's voice again. ”The genuine content of a photograph is invisible because it derives from a time-related interaction, not a form,“ he tells me, and he adds: “It can be claimed that photography is as close to music as it is to the picture.” That's when I understand that there is not only poetry but also a music playing with a special rhythm. Moreover, when these dual images come side by side, they do not establish a special dialogue between them, they give hands and present a dual dance.


    I hear the voice of Susan Sontag, and this time inside of me. “Showing a thing, anything with a photographic point of view is to reveal that it is hidden. The cover that hides something that is hidden should be removed from it. Everything that the camera records is a revelation.” I feel a short moment in time, and I feel that my soul is stretching towards timelessness in that moment. I feel that these photos, which consist of two images brought together, give some peace to my soul with their dialogues. It is as if they are touching the right points and making something that is unfinished, moving me to the point where everything is one and only. Something hidden, even the secret of life, while they whisper to us the sense of time by immobilizing their existence forever, while at the same time they are completely folding different mysteries. In front of me is the life itself flowing, as simple life and ‘as is’.


    I've been able to see a few examples of this series that took me on such a timeless journey in time, in the studio of artist photographer Ani Çelik Arevyan. Arevyan is preparing for the exhibition As Is, which will be held in Galata Private Greek Primary School between 5-30 September, and we are coming together to talk to. As Is is a different exhibition than the usual because it is formed by the artist’s presenting the transitions that she has discovered in different parts of the world in different parts of the world, regardless of the historical, temporal and spatial dimensions, sometimes in light and sometimes in between forms, in a dual arrangement. “’As Is’ is a series of stories I have gathered in the years that I have lived, gathering the memories and images that I have recorded every day without being noticed, I have gathered in other places and at other times, similar to a collection of memory of my places”, says Arevyan. The concept of time is the main issue that Arevyan has ever done in all her photographs and series. So much so that the same question with each series, as if from different perspectives and gave different answers, the same light as a polygonal face of a diamond created different reflections. However, this series is different than usual, because it describes the timelessness by marking it in its own steps for 30 years.


    Haldun Dostoğlu gives curatorial support and Nevzat Sayın also supports the artist with exhibition architecture. When I asked Dostoğlu about the characteristics of his curatorial work, he says that “to tell the truth, the whole work; both production, idea and editing are completely the idea of Ani. I only helped to create and finalize the elections after the exhibition space was established.” Founder of Galeri Nev Istanbul, Haldun Dostoglu is a close friend of Arevyan who has been working with her for many years, and a Professional name who knows her works very closely. I ask the artist for his opinion of this different series. “The series As Is is different from all the works that Ani has performed so far,” says Dostoğlu. “I know she didn't shoot all the exhibited photos to display one day. These are photos taken to write down as a historian does. The side-by-side dichotomies are as if later written by another historian. At least, that's how I see it.” When I ask his suggestions for the visitors to visit the exhibition, he perhaps has the simplest and strongest suggestion to describe this exhibition: “I suggest that you follow the works not to understand the aesthetics of a photographer, but to discover the words that bring them together.“


    And then we start talking to Ani Çelik Arevyan about her other works and personal discourse on art. As is…


    I associate your photo series to a poem and every photo to a verse. Starting from this association, how did the first verse of the poetry ‘As Is’ come to you and how was the writing process of this poem developed? And what does this poem / story tell us?


    First of all, it is my pleasure to see you liken a poem, and not just as a photograph, but with the deeper meaning behind it. 30-35 years of photography, or rather my art background, my argument was always “I don't take pictures, I make photos.” Because I always photographed things I fictionalized in my mind. For example, in the series “Traces of This World”, there is a reality that does not exist as you can imagine. These are the photographic state of my imagination, which is reflected in the photograph. In the same way, both “Nothing As It Seems” and “Dust and Sky” were the expressions of the images in my mind that did not always exist. However the series As Is is the opposite, a series of photographs I have created with the projections of my mind. Because the images you see here are all that exist in real life. A bridge, a bus, a statue, a street. These are the images I have accumulated over the years in my own photography aesthetic, in my own thoughts, without any purpose. When I look back at an instant -I'm doing that mimesis- it's like finding an encyclopedia in the attic, and when I mix it up, I wanted to set up a new story by bringing together the points that my past, or rather the time, the places that they illuminated in my brain, the points where they met each other in my mind. In fact, in a way, “I made the photo.”


    You saw a dialogue between them...


    Yes, everybody can actually understand the speech in some of them. In other words, those who look at except me can understand this because of the similarity in forms. Some remain at some point. I wanted its meaning to be hidden. Because I think my photos are an expression of what I want to say. I didn't want to go one step further. When I talk about the ‘encyclopedia I found in the attic’, I mean an archive of 95,000 photographs taken in any way without any purpose, and all of them are hidden in my memory. So when I saw an image, I remember where it was, and when it was taken, with the date and time. Maybe, in a way, the reason I do something like that after years is like pouring stones in my pocket. With the dialogues they established and the stories that emerged at the time, I wanted the audience to establish their own dialogue. When these images come side by side, they don't mean by themselves alone, another language is another expression. They're turning into a story. I'm going into dialogue in my past, and a dialogue is starting. They're not all monologues, their common ground is being in dialogue. At first, those who do not show the dialogue between them, it is supposed to to feel it a little to think, a little look and enter into.


    So actually everything started with a look at your archive and discovering that encyclopedia.


    Exactly. I think of an archaeological research that I discovered while thinking about my own practice. A generic date is not flowing, not a documentation of thirty years, not a period of my own; it is completely my own point of view. The series As Is was created by rhythm, movement, light, form, flow, but mostly my feelings.


    “I would rather define the process of creating my work as making photograph rather than photographing,” you said. What exactly is ‘making photograph’?


    Maybe it will be a bit repetitive but especially photograph is something spread out over a very wide. I want to say two things here. For example, when two cars hit each other, no one opens the sketch book and takes a black pencil and does not paint it. He takes a picture by phone or with a camera. Or any photo is taken for any document. There's a war photo, there's a documentation photo. Any other art has not entered our life but photography. However, in the painting or in other tools of the art, for example, let’s say a flower in a vase, when you see an oil painting of it, you look at just how beautiful the work is or what it means to you, the technique used by the artist. If I take a picture of it, you can say “This is the picture of a vase. What does she mean here?” Therefore, in the photograph I always go a step further and think that there should be another word. But I never took the picture with this aspect of documentation. Already in about 30 years, I've always ‘made’ photographs of my own thoughts. I saw the photo just like a watercolor brush or oil paint drops. I've been doing this with these tools just because the photo is more of a field I've mastered and I love, and I can feel the development, especially in the digital world.


    Secondly, there wasn't any digital of years ago, but I've always been very interested in the technique of this work. The dark room, the dark colored room, and then the digital. All these things that I always wanted to dominate and what I wanted to keep. Sometimes I say to my husband, “I wish I could live another 50-100 years.” Not to live long, but it feels very interesting and exciting to witness this change. Because what I've always been discussing is time. Time is the most important part of all my work.


    There's a thought exercise offered by John Berger. “How does timelessness enter temporality?” I am reading your photos as a kind of answer to this question. What do you say, can we summarize in this sense?


    Thank you so much. In fact, when I talk about time, I want to talk about eternity and infinity. I love unlimited endless expressions. We don't know where we are in time. This series actually tells this, when we combine it with timelessness, and we continue with the same look to the future. It's a classic word, but we don't really know our future. Yes there is it, but we don't know. We always feed on the past, always referring to the past. We live with our memories, our feelings. In other words, we know that a hot teapot will burn our hands with information from the past. The age of a person actually begins on the day that his memory begins. So, in fact, in a sense, when I look at the past, the ‘encyclopedia I found in the ceiling’, it became a reference for me to see the future.

    In fact, sometimes I associate my work in a way like fireworks. It is not clear what shape it is when it is thrown and what shape it will take. It is a performance that attracts me, for example, when I watch them and their ending up in that moment. In a sense, they seem to be compatible with my work. The fact that it is intangible, not surrounded by corners and sharp borders allows me to travel in and out of that timeless state.


    In another place, Berger said, “Just like the main theme of the poem is the temporality of time, the main theme of the painting is the moment of making the moment.” At the beginning of our interview, I had likened you to a poet. Your permanent concern is the temporality of time. However, photography, which is your art, makes the moment like the same of painting and makes it fixed. Can we say that at the root of your art discourse, there are always new searches and answers to this paradox?


    In fact, in the photos you see here, you cannot see the year, the time, the date, the space is relevant telling the feeling of time more than fixing the moment. Have you ever seen an Eiffel Tower here in my photos? No. There is a tower just as a tower or a bridge just as a bridge. I would like to say that instead of actually saving my time as a photograph of that moment, I would like to record the feeling of time and engage in dialogue with each other.


    In fact, you have solved this paradox in a way. You have found the answer by your own philosophy of art.


    Yes, it is true. I wish we could meet Berger and tell him…


    To create this series, you have returned to your archive covering over 95,000 photos. So this is a result of a journey in your photographic memory? How did you choose photos? I wonder a little about metedology, how long did you scan so much image?


    I didn’t scan. It is as follows: I always cared about the quality, or rather the quality of the photograph I took. And I never took a picture more than once. When taking a negative or dia-positive I have never scanned f-stop, never have made the bracket. I've always decided on a single diaphragm. When you look at my archive you can never see the same photo. On digital also. Now I look, Somehow the digital camera has memory, they keep taking and taking photos.This makes me crazy, this is not my logic. The photo is very valuable to me. So when I lift my camera, I don't want to spend five or six of it, because it's a holy and invaluable thing to picture the moment I see it, or the moment of photographing me.


    You're already waiting for that moment, right?


    I'm not waiting for the moment. I never waited for the bird to fly, nor did I wait for the sun to sink. There's no such thing. Just walking down the road, standing in the middle of the road even crossing the street, I am even exposed to the horns and  take the picture of the moment I see. What I saw pushed me to take a picture of 95,000 images.


    So they are calling you...


    Yes. Anything that makes me interesting or valuable in a way that I don't know, I take my camera and take a picture of it. As for the methodology, I found this ‘encyclopedia’ in 2015 for a reason I didn't know and I was very excited and had so much fun in this process until 2018. I felt more like I’m in a time tunnel than having fun. We don't really know where we are in time. An order that exists before and after, we live only in a section. This series actually told me that in a sense. For example, there are photos from 1990. However, anyone who has seen so far has not been able to understand which one was shot in 1990 and which one was taken in 2018. Or he did not want to think, he did not ask such a question. Because this series didn’t come out of a historical, documentary, chronological documentation. The bird above the lake may have been shot yesterday, or 15 years ago. This is what I mean timelessness, I said to be on time travel. Of course it is not possible, but it may have been taken in a year, it could have been taken in 40 years. I am talking about a 30-35 year period. In 2015, I was continuing with another series, but sometimes you come to a point where you can't breathe, in a sense, it's something that makes sense and I don't know any other reason. And I was so relieved when I turned to them. I started in 2015 and stopped in 2018. I'm not saying I'm finished. Because I don't know what time and to what I will go on. But when I stopped in 2018, I wanted this to be a series and share it with people. All my work is in series. That would be at least 10, 20 series. This series consists of 271 photographs. I exhibit 144 pieces in the Greek School. I never get caught in what numbers and what criteria. I stopped at 271.


    Have you ever been surprised by your archive?


    No, it emerges because of coming to my mind anyway. I mean, I don't think that I would look at back and say “oh, took that one,too.” For example, show me the opposite, of an image from years ago, I can even say whether it is the opposite. It's not visual memory. The photos I have taken hide to myself so much, their being with me… In the photos I took, I was so interested in the light and the feeling at first that we can see when we look at one by one.


    Here is the verse.


    Yes. It's the thing I want most that coming together and having a dialogue between them, and the audience should go on this journey and be involved in a story. But I can also say that with the series “As Is”, I also discovered how my visual memory is shaped.


    Binary plane is a format you repeat a lot. We have seen in your previous series, but they were two different sizes separated in horizontal plane. Now there are pairs that come side by side in the vertical plane


    Yes, duality is a method I use a lot. There is also duality in “Traces of this World”. But they are in the form of interlocking rings. “Dust and Sky” from the collection of İstanbul Modern is also like this. I did it completely instinctively. For example, with this chair, and the well. Both the lights and the emotions of the two bring them together. Binary images are both a result of my desire to use repetition as a means of expression and a visual way of thinking that I refer to in a way.


    You said “Nothing is as it seems” before and now you say “As Is.” Is there a special dialogue between these two series? And even if we include the “Traces of this World” between them, this time a triple story is comes out.


    This is the first time I've seen such a great approach and I see such a deep reading for the first time. Really, thank you. I want to stop with my photo. However, because my works are conceptual, I want people to put in a corridor, in a hallway, in a corridor, and leave their way through their thoughts, with a single sentence. “Not is as it seems” is a story that I don't have any negative meaning but with the upside down photos I made there that I can see that what we actually look at is not exactly what it looks like but it can change with what we can perceive. I never put my hand on my chin and thought what to name it. While I was making my photographs, it was created spontaneously. It's named while i was saying “nothing is as it seems” to the people around me. In “Traces of this World”, I wanted to adapt this chaotic situation, this turbulance situation to a view that appears from the galaxy. I believe we all leave a mark on this world. In “As Is”, for example, I could remove the cigarette stub in the photo very easily but I wanted to keep it as it is. Keep everything as it is. You perceive many things as uncleared stains from the photo at first glance, but you can see that when you look at it closely, it is a plane. Not as a single formal, but none of them is touch in terms of light. In none of them there is any way to change the frame, even not to bring the two frames together.


    The soap bubble which is the last frame of “Nothing is as it seems”, makes a transition to your next exhibition “Traces of this World”, creates a kind of a comma. Is there a similar transition now? In this context, can you read all of your exhibitions in this way like a river, a story?


    Yes, there is but it's not something I've done consciously. Because I'm not doing it as didactic. There is no such thing as “I did it now, and this is the next series.” The thing you said is as if a commentary from the same artist. On the other hand, the soap bubbles’ being upside down was the last sentence to complete that series, but after that it was the beginning of the others. As a matter of fact, it became the beginning of this series, also. This is something telling that how my series looking like different at first glance turns out speaking the same language and is in the same line. As a matter of fact, the one which seems to be different from the previous, the next, the whole, actually stands as a whole.


    In introductory text of “As Is”, it says, “The abundance of images in the series evokes the pixel parts that the artist likened to in the universe; every binary image is transformed into the pixelated parts of a conceptual whole.” I would say, “We see that the human body is almost the most basic form for you, and in years it has become reduced by abstraction.” Even though there are no human figures in these paintings, is there still a different reference to people?


    Yes, some have no figure, no people. But there is a sense of human. Let me put it this way: I like to shut my eyes and see the colorful spots in that black darkness, and when I do that, I think of those pixels I see, particles as the planets and people in the galaxy. That is, in our world, I think that these are pixels in fact as all groups of people, societies, which bring together all the people with particles, in every sense. And I see these pictures as pixelated pieces of a whole. Because when all of them come together, it forms a whole, and a whole new story is formed by the fact that these shattered pixels, or rather pixel fragments, come together. And I used it in my exhibition. I made a photo in the form of a 3mm photo that looked normal from a distance but showed a pixelated state when it was very close. And I put my own discourse. From the entrance of the exhibition to the end, there are very small details that connect them all together. I share them with those who notice. I have another surprise at the exhibition. I'm putting these pixelated parts as a point under a discourse. I put my own self-portrait again in a fully pixelated form.

    As for the question you asked at the beginning. Actually I was interested in the time context with the figures in my previous works. I was very interested in the performance art and dance. It is still a photograph that makes the dance timeless and permanent and visible. 50-60 people, at most 1000 people are watching the performance art or dance in that moment. However, after this performance, it is possible to look at it and fix it by the photography and video. So, in my early series there is a figure in the foreground, yes, but I'm mainly concerned with time. For me, these photos are all about time. The series “Between Life and Death” and “Chrysalide” consist of the frames I have drawn from the performance of a dancer. While the artist is doing his own dance and his own art, and by the other artist, that is photographer’s standing for his own interpretation means making his own interpretation. I never looked at them as a figure. I always saw it as a jump and bounce in time. So for me, there is no difference between what I took in 1990 and the present “As Is.” Because it's the same point that both look at and examine. Of course, people are developing, affected by the changing world, and so I evolve and change. I'm probably going to make some photos for the rest of my life, my whole alteration will be in the frame of photography.


    Let's talk about the curatorial support of Haldun Dostoğlu and Nevzat Sayın's exhibition architecture. How did they make a relation between the exhibition space and your works? How did the venue determine the exhibition, how did determine the flow?


    The connection of the Greek school with the past is very much in line with my own complete works. And when you were in those classes, it was so appropriate to tell life as a film strip. That's why I wanted it to be there. The school building provided the form of the filmstrip that shaped the series, and the idea that our life was a film's squares, giving me an environment where I could express myself very easily, and we did it on the first floor. With my close friend Haldun Dostoğlu and I also mad a film strip. His curatorial referrals were very helpful. We did something different on the mezzanine floor. I am an artist especially impressed with the Renaissance period, and with Nevzat Sayın, who was a close friend of mine, we wanted to exhibit the photographs, by an application creating an affect like light beams, in respect of Renaissance period. And this happened spontaneously, and when the pictures were next to each other, they were already telling a story.



    This answers my vertical plane question in a sense. The film strip is progressing.


    Yes, maybe ... I already brought the idea of the film strip to the table and all of this improved spontaneously. However, because I looked very much at my own business, Haldun Bey, who was the first person to look outside, found very nice touches. He's always very friendly, like his last name. And we are already in this exhibition again with Gallery Nev Istanbul, this time just a different venue.


    Does this series have a personal meaning for you? As a result, a 30-year accumulation of re-kneading as a new discourse, and in doing so you are starting from personal encounters. Can we call it the most personal exhibition ever?


    Maybe we could call it the most completed-work exhibition. While the others describe a more specific single exhibition, I see it as a series, but more like a tree with branches. And because of the variety and color of its content, it is much more active and much more intense. In others, you could end up with a head in a moment. That's one reason we chose the school. The difference of being able to go in and out of the rooms and look at them over and over again will add a nice comment to this work. I look at this series differently, I feel myself in images, and I come and go in time. With photos, I want everyone to find their own interpretation, to establish their own connection. They move between fiction and reality. I want the audience to walk through the compositions instead of me. No ambition, no didactic coercion, as much as possible “As Is”. Like a piece of film, it's a story when it's all together. I would like to add that the only concern of an artist is to achieve some kind of perfection. I think this is possible by knowing yourself. Why do people make friends? Because we see our mistakes when we look at them. Why do we look in the mirror when we wear a dress? Because we see how it stands from a reflection. Every series I do for me is actually a step to get to know myself and return to my own world. I think this is a very accurate method to recognize myself and to alleviate the burden on my heart. In order to recognize himself, a person needs tools other than himself. That's why art exists. Every artist has a way of thinking, an approach. In my own creation process, I evolve and change in a certain continuum. This is a change that is no different from the content, but visually existing and visible. Even you, who knows me newly, said by seeing its connection with my early works.


    Do you make special readings when creating a new series?


    I love Susan Sontag. Jean Baudrillard, also. I see that his comments on sensivity are very close to me. When I read his first book, I was horrified like the man came into my brain and wrote them down. I like to read Kazuo Ishiguro as well. And some artists impress me. Mathew Barney is an extraordinary artist. Jeff Wall, Duane Michals, and Thomas Demand are some of the other names I've been impressed with. İbrahim Cansızoğlu is a very close friend of mine, whose conversations on both art histrory and contemporary art are very valuable to me. Sometimes we can start from Baudrillard and discuss only one paragraph, sometimes we can read pages and take a very good course. His commentary and discussion about this art history, which he brought to me, has always been very important for me.




  • A N İ   Ç E L İ K   A R E V Y A N




    23 February 2020 – 12 April 2020


    Press Release


    “Light Study-I represents the relationship I have built between traditional still-life painting and the visual language of photography.”

    Ani Çelik Arevyan


    Ani Çelik Arevyan’s new solo exhibition, “Light Study-I” opens at Adas on February 23. The exhibition will be on view until April 12, 2020.


    In her new exhibition, Arevyan interprets the tradition of still-life painting using light with a Baroque sensibility in her photographs. While the volumes of the objects and their anthropomorphic positions remind viewers of time and thus immortality, the element of life, which is on the foreground, and the confrontation with tradition are striking.


    By emphasizing light and using the abstraction created by light, the objects produce a modern structure in the photographs. “Light Study-I series, which integrate with the space with a contemporary approach, consists of four sections bringing together compositions made by utilizing light.


    The artist’s series of photographs complement each other, creating abstract forms that wander through darkness with light. The figures that appear to be suspended in a vacuum come together at times sculpturally and at times as calligraphy. The floral forms that the artist has made present a naturalist sensibility as well. These works go beyond a visual aesthetic concern to point to a conceptual approach. The artist uses the expressive language of compositions with striking voids, using the still-life both digitally and pictorially.


    Arevyan destroys the prestigious, class-driven arrangements of still-life works that appear to be coincidental. By foregrounding the linear nature of a strong light source, the traditional still-life tradition is reinterpreted in a contemporary manner. The exhibition refers to the era of Renaissance, thus catalyzing viewers see the still-life travel through time.






    Nilüfer Kuyaş


    In the Mirror of the Universe




    November 12, 2019

    Ani Celik Arevyan's "Dark Matter" exhibition

    In the Mirror of the Universe


    Nilüfer Kuyaş


    Ani Çelik Arevyan brings together a series of images without any interventions—it is as if the images are selected from a film strip. We looked at the exhibition as a whole, contemplating on the layers and the individual works, each of which hosts a range of meanings.


    Dark matter and dark energy constitute the most mysterious, least known aspects of the universe. Ani Çelik Arevyan, at her photography exhibition at the Kıraathane İstanbul Literature House, facilitates an encounter with this mystery at a most unexpected place: Earth.


    In the puddle on the asphalt, the reflections of a thousand kinds of forms have become the replica of eternity in the universe.


    The artist, using the light very skillfully, has achieved a depth with incredible layers in these reflections through beautiful framing. You can't distinguish whether what you are seeing is an illusion. It is as if we are viewing scenes of the universe, star teams and galaxies taken by NASA and viewed with the Hubble telescope. Magnificent.


    Layers are always important for Ani. Like subtexts and superscripts speaking to or reading each other, or drawing a line in the middle of the book page in experimental literature, letting two separate texts flow in parallel, creating a diversity of meaning with layers, multiplying thoughts and connotations, playing with echoes and reflections, different dimensions of time, past and present. to imbue, to vibrate for the future, to feel are the main veins in her photography.


    The artist usually pre-constructs these layers, sometimes creates mise-en-scenes in the studio. Sometimes she chases the ways in which things come together in the outside world, chasing coincidences and scenes, constructing collages. She brings to us the content of thought and emotion.

    This time, she did something different. Without any interventions, she managed to charge a ready-made image with the meanings in her mind. There is no action of constructing the story she is narrating here. She only created an opportunity for the universe to narrate its own story, so that layers reveal themselves in front of us on this stage, in this situation and then she waited for the light, watching out for reflections that would relay something completely different even if there was a change of a millimeter.


    For this exhibition we can say it is the victory of the human eye, the camera shutter, patience and experience, relationship with the world, a victory of art.


    Using found ”material, which is a very important and fundamental element of modern and contemporary art, and making good art with this method, is a very difficult task. Ani Çelik Arevyan makes it look easy with this exhibition.

    Thinking of the universe, facing infinity and the unknown always gives me a sweet fear. I didn't feel that fear while looking at those photos. I can only say that I have felt great enthusiasm and joy.


    The desire to confront the unknown is a critical propelling force for the art of Ani Çelik Arevyan.

    Moreover, in these works she caught the dimension of the feeling of obscurity, the invisible side of reality or the indefinable images that lead to thought, just like a magician. I don't use the word magic in vain, I think there's always magic in good art, because good art looks for the invisible in the visible.

    These photographs, which left a deep impression on me, raised a question in my mind: What if human history and human life are linked with cosmic rhythms? I borrowed this question from a wall text for one of the works of the Istanbul Biennial this year. Melvin Moti's Cosmism at the Pera Museum.


    Inspired by a group of researchers studying the connections between the cosmos / universe and humanity. He mentions the role played by the sun's rays in the important events of humanity. No matter how we interpret it, we cannot possibly not be influenced by cosmic events and the movements of the universe. As the world has a history, the universe has a history, a story. It's a story that we know little about yet, and we're still trying to understand and construct it, we're looking for evidence and indicators, we're trying to comprehend it.

     At this stage of the climate crisis when the balances of our world are in danger, in an age where our tiny planet is at its most fragile, it is unthinkable not to connect with the story of the universe, maybe that is what we need most—the kind of a relationship, empathy and emotion we would have with all kinds of living and inanimate beings will determine our entire existence, our future and our destiny in the world.


    With this unexpected connection between the Earth and the universe, Ani Çelik Arevyan opens up an important realm of emotion and thought. We understand that “dark matter” is believed to cover eighty-five percent of the universe, and that “dark energy”, which is said to constitute twenty-five percent of the entire energy density, is the glue that makes sure entire galaxies, stars, other celestial bodies, and of course our world exists.


    The fact that the universe is still expanding was also determined thanks to this energy. Galaxies and stars make up only five percent of the known universe. We are a particle of dust in our Milky Way galaxy, in our tiny solar system and in our tiny world. But it seems that we owe our existence not only to simple gravity, as we have believed for centuries, but to actual dark matter. In a nutshell, we're here thanks to invisible and unknown links.


    When this reality is also transformed into a metaphor in the hands of an artist like Ani Çelik Arevyan, another and more spiritual landscape emerges within the material universe. Just as the world is in a vital connection with the entire universe, we, as well as the universe, are bound to each other by invisible strings. I think this is the most important layer that the artist wants to make us feel at the Dark Matter exhibition.


    Dark matter is a phenomenon that we cannot see yet, we detect it in every experience. Likewise, for us people, the suggestion of making more visible and unknown links between us and trying to discover them seems to involve fundamentally changing our imagination of life.


    Rather than being discriminatory in behavior, exclusionary and othering in thought, we will find it easier to live together if we try to find things that bind us. From the weakening of democracy to the climate crisis, it is only possible to find solutions to all the problems we face and to see how to take the right steps only by coming together. This exhibition reminds me that there is a strong relationship between the unknowns of the universe and our own unknowns.


    We do not yet know whether humanity’s realm will open up to space one day or if there are other creatures in the universe. I'm one of those who believe we're alone in the universe. So instead of fighting and waging war, I think we should embrace each other more. This sad and romantic thought is important to me.


    Of course, this is open to interpretation. But one thing is certain: imagining our own future cannot be separated from imagining the future of the world and the unknowns of the universe.


    In this exhibition, Ani Çelik Arevyan worked with five big photographs as images of the expansion and breathing of the universe and succeeded in capturing dynamism in these images. In the photo series, trees, leaves, sky, games of light reflected on asphalt, layer on top of each other to form this dynamism. On the other hand, the ten small photographs are exhibited together to form “supernova”s, evoking a sense of light scattering and starbursts.


    Extraordinary images that surprise viewers.


    There is another metaphor or layer that is important to me in this exhibition; it may not be something the artist intended—it might just be my interpretation. The contrasts of silhouette and light in the photographs and “dark matter” gaps reminded me of the mirror metaphor that I love so much.


    As I was talking about magic, I had mentioned that art is looking for the invisible in the visible. There is a type of mirror that magicians use to look at dimensions of reality that is invisible—a “dark mirror” or “black mirror”. For this type of magic that is called scrying, the glass is painted black and is used to look beyond the normal reality. This is a metaphor that is often used especially by women artists of surrealism. The first work that I thought about was Dorothea Manning’s Mirror.


    The black matter in the universe seemed to me like a black mirror that could reflect some facts about ourselves, and I enjoyed looking at Ani Çelik Arevyan's work through the framework of this metaphor.


    The metaphor of looking at ourselves in the mirror of the universe, could be a means of encountering our own unknown, seeing our dark side, confronting mortality, grief and loss, and making peace with the melancholy within us maybe. The feeling that we are a part of eternity is a feeling that empowers people. Reminds us that anything is possible.


    On the other hand, could the mirror metaphor be one step closer to reality than being a metaphor? Is it possible to see the difference between what is really a problem and what we are seeing as problems, and to place the order of priorities in our lives to its “real” dimensions?

    When art is powerful, the series of associations are also wide-ranging.


    In addition to all these layers and meanings, there is also the joy of encountering pure beauty. A healing gaze. There is the happiness of being alive, being in the world, being in the universe. Ani Çelik Arevyan has created, above all, beautiful works that glorify the audience. What we call the “sublime” in art is a difficult experience to describe, but I think it has to do with having an unexpected contact with the universe, to be reflected in the mirror of the universe, and to feel that we are part of something bigger than ourselves regardless of the subject.




    Elif Tanrıyar


    Imaginary but also worldly…




    Novembre 1, 2019

    Imaginary but also worldly…


    Ani Çelik Arevyan’s exhibition “Dark Matter” is on view at the Kıraathane Literature House between November 2-30. Prepare to face layered works that range from the reflections of trees in water puddles to the secrets of the universe.

    Elif Tanrıyar


    Last year, I had written an article expressing the emotions that were evoked in me after seeing the photographer Ani Çelik Arevyan’s “As Is”.

    John Berger had said, “Meaning and mystery cannot be separated from each other; neither can exist without the passing of time,” says John Berger. This is exactly what I think about as I look at these photographs. For a short moment, time stops and I feel that my soul reaches into timelessness. “Tracing time”, but timeless—photographs, each one deepened with meanings their own, but which move together like a film strip when brought together. Both familiar and mysterious. These photographs are turned into an open-ended film strip when placed next to each other, while narrating their own two-part stories.

    There is a brief moment in time when everything stops and I feel my soul stretching into timelessness, watching / listening to these two-part stories. There is something very familiar about these images that give the feeling that they don't belong anywhere, ever. They speak in the divine language of timelessness. It is as if your everlasting soul has always known and forgotten it, this mysterious and very familiar language that you cannot remember and that comes to the tip of your tongue. When you view these dual images once again, you feel as if you are starting to see that they are about living and existing.

    And now the circle of time is complete once again. Exactly a year later, I am in front of Arevyan’s work at a new exhibition. This time the new series is called “Dark Matter”. This is a more minimal series of work, featuring fewer works than “As Is”. It consists of five large 116X150 cm works and 10 small 25X30 cm works. And at first glance it has nothing to do with the previous series. “As Is” consisted of a series of works that resembled a filmstrip when they came together. “Dark Matter” is a series of independent works. But they still create a similar familiarity in my soul.

    Arevyan says of her new series: “Random, instant textures in nature are often recorded by my camera. The photographs in the “Dark Matter ”series consisted of images that I saw while looking at the world with the eye of a photographer. Reflections of the sky, branches and leaves of the trees falling on the ground, the small puddles, the earth, the shadows and the reflected sunlight seemed to have migrated over the same surface with an endless gravity. I only transferred this image to the photo with a single gesture where all visible layers overlap. But after these images turned into photographs, I felt they featured more than what was visible. When I look at them again, I see that I want to reach a reality that is not real, imaginary but somehow also worldly.”

    This must be the definition that comes to the tip of my tongue, but that which I cannot say. Imaginary, but also worldly, reaching a worldly whole.

    But where does the title “Dark Matter” come from? Arevyan explains, “Recently, physicists have discovered that the gravity of the matter we can see is not enough to hold the universe that continues to move at great speed. There had to be another substance that produced enough gravity to hold the universe together, but that we couldn't see. This substance was called black matter or dark matter. Dark matter does not absorb, reflect or emit light—it can only be detected by the pull it creates. In my photographs, too, there were countless layers of this world brought together by an imaginary gravity. So I named this series ‘Dark Matter’”.

    Art, above all, shows us feelings and emotions that we were not even aware that we had. But for this, we are sometimes dragged into times and places that we didn’t know existed. Sometimes, imaginary dimensions that are also somewhat worldly.

    These are technically also subjective works. “While the Dark Matter series resembles the works in my series, Traces of This World, it was finalized with the sensibility of As Is,” says Ani Çelik Arevyan. She further adds, “In other words, I didn’t intervene in the photographs; I just selected them from a film strip. In this sense, Dark Matter is a stop in my subjective perspective.”

    You should definitely see the “Dark Matter” series and feel the dark matter that keeps within its gravity everything and everyone around you, feel your own spirit within that realm. After seeing these photographs, you could realize that it was always there and feel amazed.


  • DARK MATTER, series

    Arstis Statement


    Ani Celik Arevyan

    “Dark Matter” series, 2019

    Ani Celik Arevyan


    My lens generally captures coincidental and fleeting textures in nature.  Photographs in the “Dark Matter” series were composed of frames I spotted while I was observing the world as a photographer.  It seemed like the reflections of sky, tree branches and leaves on the wet floor, small puddles, soil, shadows and reverberating sunlight collapsed on the same layer with infinite gravitation.  All the visible layers were overlapping and interlacing in these images; I merely transferred them into photography through a single gesture.  But after these images turned into photographs I sensed that they harbored more than what is visible.  When I looked at them again I realized I wanted to reach a singularity, which does not exist in the realm of reality, as we know it; a singularity, which is dreamlike, but at the same time earthly.


    Recently physicists discovered that gravity generated by observable matter was not enough to hold the rapidly moving universe together.  There should have been something, which is not observable yet generating the gravity that is needed to prevent the universe to fall apart.  This was called as dark matter.  Dark matter does not absorb, reflect or emit light; it can only be spotted by its gravitational effect.  In my series, there were countless earthly layers in the photographs brought together with an imaginary gravitational force.  This is the reason I called this series as “Dark Matter”.


    Although “Dark Matter” series resembles my “Traces of This World” series in its affect, it took its final shape through my approach in “As Is” series.  I mean I did not retouch the photographs, I have only chosen them among a film roll.  From this perspective “Dark Matter” series turned out to be another caesura of my subjective view in photography.  It is possible to obtain the pictorial effect in “Dark Matter” series through alienating, transforming and modifying the photograph yet I wanted to acquire this texture through the photographic method without changing the photograph.




  • AS IS, series

    Arstis Statement


    Ani Celik Arevyan

    AS IS

    Solo Exhibition

    05-30 September 2018, Greek Primary School


    ani celik arevyan

    For me “As Is” resembles a body of literature bringing together the memories of places I have been in throughout my life.  In the series I assemble together the moments and images we record without noticing every day with their correspondences in other places and times.


    Since 1987 I have been following the traces of time through my work in photography.  I resemble “As Is” series to an archeological method I have discovered while I was thinking on my photographic practice.  As I create the series I have returned to the material in my archive consisting over 95,000 photographs.


    I have taken most of these images during my journeys to different parts of the world.  The series started to take shape with the crossings between forms among these images.  The mental space emerging out of this ongoing series provided a feedback loop for me about my photographic consciousness and my evolution as an artist.


    The photographs in “As Is” were not staged, they did not follow an imagined mise-en-scène.  In this series I have photographed the images staged by life rather than staging images in my studio.  These double images were created without any didactic concern through the encounters between the frames I have collected from the world I have seen and lived in.  These coincidences created a venue in which I freely accord two images to create new visual idioms.


    The abundance of images in this series gives them a pixel like quality; each double image seems like a pixelated unit of a conceptual ensemble.  This archive of pixelated units also reminds me the different pages of a book and I envisage another short narrative each time I scan through them.  I created these short narratives enmeshed with time inside my archive in which I observe the textures of the world.  They are ordered along concentric movements and oscillate between coherence and incoherence.


    Creating narratives inside this archive is like forming connections between nerve endings to emulate a stream of electricity.  As every double image unfold like scenes in a speculative film roll, an open storyboard emerged through them like a collection of images flashing in one’s mind.


  • ART_UNLIMITED_Kahraman Çayırlı





    November, 2018 Interview


    Your photographs (multiple trees, columns, rods, multiple mannequins, raindrops, chairs, antennas) appearing concrete at first glance become abstract over themselves by exploring your own art language. What would you like to say in this respect?


    In the production process of this series, while reviewing my photographs I realized I was starting out with deadpan aesthetics. But I also wanted to go one step further of the structure of deadpan aesthetics which focuses on a single issue away from emotions. Yes, most of the images are photographs of objects however in their concrete form they carried limited meaning.

    I think I can better explain in this way: the photograph subjects you counted one by one, such as trees, columns, chairs carried only objective meaning until I put it next to another object in order to extract an abstract meaning.  All of these developed spontaneously while working on the series and contemplating my own artistic expressions. As the images abstracted, they became more meaningful. My whole work process actually looked like my own memory scan, and I wanted to take the audience on a journey with the exhibition.


    When we think about all of your exhibitions together, we feel that the human body is transformed into a kind of metropolitan window through mannequins and then into a metropolitan skyline. Do you agree with this idea, why did you return to nature after such a journey of transformation?


    In fact, the mannequins, the big city landscapes you have mentioned are the subjects that existed in my old series, in fact Street Matter series are almost exclusively built around those topics. But I was also shooting still life photographs in the same period. So dealing with large city images or nature images wasn't two opposing approaches for me. I was equally interested in both. The differing aspect of this series was that subjects I followed and issues I was interested in, materialized in a deepened state. Specifically, regarding the mannequins, I believe they contain a potential energy, an energy that is waiting to come out. Other photographs in the series also contain this potential energy and combining images together allowed the release of this potential energy. This idea, which constitutes the main backbone of the Street Matter series, may have been incorporated into some of the works in the As Is series. Perhaps the As Is series contains pieces from all of my previous series, and I can reminisce when I look at them over and over again, or when an external eye like yours’s draws my attention to them. In fact, in a sense, I created an inventory of my interests in photography with the As Is series.


    In your new exhibition, by forming creative binary worlds (binary images), you create a simultaneous and reversible continuum. What other functions do you think of these binary photographs?


    Binary images are both a result of my desire to use repetition as a means of expression, as well as my visual thinking. This was also the case in the series Traces of This World and Nothing Is As It Seems. Binary images, beyond a way of thinking, are also a form of presentation. When I consider how to present my photographs, I usually arrive at the conclusion to display in pairs. The main function of this choice for me is to open space for thought, to deepen images in this mutual relationship and to produce images for thought. In the series AS IS, when two images are placed next to each other, they seize to carry their previous singular meaning, together they form another meaning, another language. They reform in a story. In fact, for each audience, the exhibition is shaped by how these stories are perceived. They are shaped by the stories formed by the concepts that come into being, or in other words by the connotations of the concepts. These ties that connect both different stories and different concepts can be loose or strong.


    In your new exhibition, we often come across photographs in the shape of frames, nature's own frames; stairs, the windows of multi-storey buildings, and if we add the frame of the photograph as well as our eyes, photographs can be seen to contain intertwined frames. Do you agree with this idea? Why do you think you chose the method of frame in the frame? We are looking at the multi-storey building and business towers through a second frame (the window of another building, etc.), what are the additional functions of the second frame?


    Yes, as you mentioned, there is a frame within the frame, and this means that the image actually opens itself to another image. Actually this logic can be found in the entirety of the series and frames in the frame make it more evident. In other words, new layers are added to the photograph. The state of being composed of different layers reminds me of the structure of the earth and of the sky. Beyond the sky, the eternity of course. We do not see these layers with the naked eye, but we are aware of their existence. The ebbs and flows that take place in my memory while thinking about these layers is like listening to a nautilus. Just like when the sound that emanates from the layers of its shell take us on a journey elsewhere, I would like the layers that I created in my mind to take the audience on their own journey.


    In your new exhibition we often see a lot of moving and multiple lights. Is it the function of these lights to convey the moment that we are in?


    There are couple of such photographs in the series. Many times, when I look at them, I compared the motion of light to a writing. The word meaning of the photograph is writing with light anyway. In this sense, I also care about the conceptual dimension of the few photographs we mention. As a photographer, light is the most important tool I use to express what I see. I've always said that the first thing I ever think to make photography is light. That is, before the photograph, it’s light comes to my mind, other features develop later. I always think initial state of my works as light. The light is the essence of the photograph. In this sense, it doesn’t only function to convey the moment to a photograph. Yes, it works like a tool, but it's inclusive. Of course, these photographs only translate into a momentary situation, but this is true for other photographs as well. In my works of photographing the light itself, this is only much more visible, the shorter the moment, the more it bumps into the viewer's eye, as I just said, it carries a conceptual dimension. Another important function of light in the series As Is is perhaps to make the images go back and forth between romantic and realistic visions. Your question reminded me of that. How the light falls on the object can make the picture look like a dream or make it very realistic. Of course, these different looks may be a connection to the moment photograph was taken in.


    What was the reason for preferring a form of inward maze when placing pictures in the exhibition?


    Yes, it's kind of a maze. This is actually about the continuity of the filmstrip format. Following the filmstrip allows the audience to watch the photographs and to go back and forth in time. As I wander through this labyrinth, I also want the audience to be lost within them, to turn into themselves and to find their way back. I also think that this display format increases the converting capacity of images. In fact, a series of fiction, history, time frame, place etc. does not come forward. Not following a single story gives the viewer a different view. The fact that the works in the exhibition are arranged on the same line as in a filmstrip makes it possible to skip between images. Each photograph creates contrast and reinforces each other's meaning. While following these relationship contradictions, people may also question the paradoxes of life. This is the journey I want to take the audience on.


    After your new exhibition, I felt like watching a full-length feature film. What would you like to say about your relationship with the cinema, the communication of your photographs with the cinema? Who are the directors you're eagerly waiting for a new film to come out of?


    While I was building the exhibition, I always had the filmstrip format, but I never thought of it as a film with an end. I wanted each binary image to work like a story piece. As they moved in succession, different narrative possibilities were emerging. It was exactly what I wanted to see in the audience, but I knew that each audience would revive every film different. Since I know that the photographs were taken in different time periods, the time spikes that took place during the shaping of these stories were already visible for me. In order to convey this feeling to the audience, I had to find an exhibition format specific to this series. The most appropriate format for this was the filmstrip that I mentioned. When watching a movie, in fact, the time becomes ambiguous; we'll be lost in the time of the film. I love this feeling and I want this feeling to dominate rather than evoking different emotions for each single photograph. Perhaps this is the only way we could describe our ambiguous position in time.


    What kind of differences is there between the studio photographs and the photographing a moment that we come across in everyday life?


    In the studio I take a picture of the composition of what I have in my mind, while in everyday life I take a picture if I like the composition. There is such a distinction between the two, but ultimately both emerge as a result of certain mental processes, and I prefer to go back to the photograph in both cases. Whether it's an analogue photograph produced in a dark room or a digital picture, it takes a renewed look to see the photograph as itself. For example, the stairs and mountain photograph you see in Galata Rum School on the way to the first floor consists of pixels, but you realize it only as you get closer. These pixels integrate with my Lego photograph on the first floor. In other words, the ideas I use to create the exhibition can be united through many different processes.


    On the other hand, the studio is the center of my productivity, the seeds wait in the studio and flower over time. I don't know when these seeds will mature, when the parts in the middle will merge into a whole.


    Is there any photograph you wish you had taken?


    Jeff Wall, Duane Michals, Sam Taylor Wood and Sarah Moon are my favorite photographers. I find many photographs of them close to me. I love the fabulous fictions of Sarah Moon, and the compositions that seem like they don't belong to this world. Duane Michals' travels between time and memories, the frames he uses in his series, and the work of Jeff Wall, which appears to be a spontaneous retreat, but behind him, is an amazing photograph production. Sam Taylor Wood's moldy fruit still life that describes time as well as portraying himself in vacuum in his studio which in reality is the documentation of a performance are among my favorite works.


    Which of the countries you have traveled to take photographs had an impact on you?


    I've never traveled to take pictures; I don't have such a practice or desire. These are photographs of ordinary times, moments. Have you ever seen an important or very familiar place in my work? Difficult to reach mountains, tropical forests, exotic places are also absent. My interest is with the time itself and as a result with memories. The location or the place is far too secondary. In fact in many of the binary images, it is not possible to understand where the photograph was taken. These are not photographs taken with the eyes of tourists, what’s important for me in these photographs is the time shifts between them and the story they turn into.