Portrait of a photographic poetess
WILCO VAN HERPENThis weekend I went to İzmir and found myself, before I could realize it, in a fairytale world. The reason for the visit was a friend of mine, İlke Coşkuner. She is a photo poetess and creates amazing pictures. The reason to visit her was my television program called “2 Göz, 1 Şehir” (Two Eyes, One City). I have long wanted to shoot a program about her, and finally I got the opportunity to realize my dream.
İlke does not consider herself a photographer. She creates pictures with the practical help of her photo archive. Thousands and thousands of pictures help her to create the dream of fairy tale she is thinking about. Ordinary pictures that would generally be overlooked by professional photographers are of huge importance to her. Pictures of trees, flowers, jewelry, dirt containers, cars or clouds are definitely present in her archive. Sometimes she even uses old postcards of Turkey. The only thing that will be photographed especially for her particular story is people. They give the strongest message to her artwork. Her artwork is a collage of pictures and objects changed and positioned in her “pictures” with the help of Photoshop. I generally do not like photoshopped art pictures very much, but the way İlke uses it is so nice and gives so much more depth to the art she makes.
One of the series that impressed me most was DUWAR (Wall). While playing with the title of her series DUVAR, which means wall, but changing the V to W (which has the same sound in the Turkish language) she makes the connection with war. She wants to beak the horrible wall called War. Sons die in every war, and by breaking the wall, she hopes to prevent the death of future sons.
Especially in this series it is obvious that a woman made the series. There is always a kind of softness in her photographic poems, although parts of the picture can be very hard and confronting.
She makes people think about what they can see in her pictures. Her fairytale or poem might be completely different from what you see in her pictures, but one thing is for sure: while looking at her pictures, you are forced to start thinking of what she wants to tell you. Since she does not give any clue except for the title of the series, you might find yourself creating a completely different story. But, at least for me, that is exactly the beauty of the work of İlke.
At the moment she is working on a series about famous people. One of the first pictures she created was her own self-portrait; a happy, positive picture of herself as if she is living in a candy world. Her love for photography and colorful movements (that is, life) are important parts of the picture. İlke saw me as someone connecting two different lives or worlds. She works on a picture where two different worlds are symbolized by Turkey and the Netherlands. A bridge connects those two different “worlds.”
A steam train passes the bridge and in its long plume of smoke, she photoshopped me as “connector of the two worlds.” Unfortunately, the “picture” was not yet finished, so if you want to see the picture, you’ll have to visit my Facebook page after five days.
She also offers art classes in Photoshop at the Kedi Kultür & Sanat Merkezi (Cat Culture & Art Center). People can learn in a much shorter period all the tricks of Photoshop that she is using and talk about how to give a stronger message about your work. Just in front of the art center are the remains of the legs of a flyover, an ambitious project from many years ago. The columns were built on a first-degree protected historical place and after many protests, the project was halted. Now, for as long as I can remember (I am talking about a period of more than 15 years), those columns are still standing there with their arms stretching out at the neighborhood as if they want help from the people who are living there. It is so ugly and I wonder why they never have been destroyed. Then I got a brilliant idea; why not use all those ugly columns and change them into a center for artists.
Every section of art would have her/his own column and decorate it in such a way that it symbolizes their segment of art. You could organize exhibitions, give workshops over there or just use it as an atelier. Thinking about the project, I dreamt about what it would look like. Then, all of a sudden, it hit me; the picture of İlke was definitely true. I am a dreamer but also a bridge between two different cultures. I might be a locomotive that starts very slowly but once I am rolling, it won’t be possible to stop me.