Yıldız Moran Arun
Born in 1932 in Istanbul, Turkey / Died in 1995 in Istanbul, Turkey
Adriano Pedrosa (AP): Yıldız Moran Arun’s photographic career lasted only 12 years, from 1950 to 1962, but during that time she created a vivid and sincere body of work. She was born in 1932 and became the first formally educated female photographer in Turkey.
Jens Hoffmann (JH): What is striking to me about her work is its straightforward beauty and brutality. She photographed what she saw without trying to filter it. Anatolia was the location of most of her photographs. Many of the places she went to were relatively unknown and inaccessible at the time. She was a courageous woman with a strong vision.
AP: Even though it was radical then for a woman to be a photographer in Turkey, she dove into her career wholeheartedly. She studied photography in England and traveled to Italy, Spain, Austria, France, Monaco, and Greece to take pictures. Her first solo exhibition was in England at age 21, and she sold out the show in just one day. Her reception in Turkey was very different. She had an exhibition here at age 23 and didn’t sell any work for two years. She started her own studio and made portraits of the artists of that day while simultaneously pursuing her personal artwork. While she continued to exhibit her photographs in her studio and had solo exhibitions in Istanbul and Ankara in the 1950s, she eventually left the field and became almost forgotten. She married the poet Özdemir Asaf at the age of 30, became a mother, and never returned to her art. In 1982, thirteen years before she passed away, she was selected as an honorary member of the Photography Institute of Fine Arts Academy in Istanbul.
JH: She once said, “Anything poetic is the topic of photography.” Her photographs are candid images of people and places. A man sips Turkish coffee by the towers of baskets he sells on the street. A camel embellished with a Turkish rug waits for a rider. Two women stand at a river running through architectural ruins. Two goats play in the desert. Her images are often bleak scenes of everyday life in Anatolia, yet they are visceral and captivating.
AP: Yes, she was interested in capturing the universal in a moment. While these works have the quality of a snapshot, they are dynamic and provocative. They conjure a portrait of a society that is not known to everyone, yet becomes familiar through her sincere investigation.
JH: The photographs in the exhibition have not been seen for many, many years. I feel it is something of a special situation that we can allow these images to breathe once more in memory of Moran Arun.