Born in 1974 in Tiel, The Netherlands, / Lives in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Adriano Pedrosa (AP): Tell me about Listen to your soul, my blood is singing iron triggers that could be released (2009–11), which you are reconfiguring for the Istanbul Biennial.
Eylem Aladoğan (EA): This sculpture consists of a constellation of recognizable shapes, such as enlarged feathers and the barrels and butts of rifles. I fashioned the sculpture on the basis of a sketchlike scale model. It is essentially derived from a stretched, taut wing shape in which the flight feathers are interlaced with the barrels, which are in line with the butts. The work also consists of two sides: One side exhibits line drawings derived from Oriental architectural shapes and motifs (applied to the wood with a branding iron), and on the other side you see a succession of linked feather shapes. This work arose from my fascination with the idea of generating willpower: the courage and capacity to discover, or rediscover, latent abilities in yourself, and to develop them. It requires strength to do things in which you remain true to your own essence and stand up for what you say and your beliefs. Before doing so, it is often unavoidable to conquer your own existential fears and impulses. Keeping this continuous process going, a process in which forces and countervailing forces are pitted against one another, is the point of departure for this work.
AP: There is also a strong element of violence in the work—death, even— signified by the rifles.
EA: Well, let me put it this way: There is violence in the work but in a more sublimated way. I believe that in order to remain true to your own autonomy and your ideas, you always need to change, and change always involves fear. In other words, there is always fear involved, which you have to conquer first. It’s a continuous inner threat that needs to be battled in order to find an existential fulfillment. These circumstances also appear in the external world; change always causes fear. For me, the rifles reflect both fear and strength at the same time. You can say that without death there is no urge to survive. We need fear to trigger inner growth.
AP: What is your relationship to Turkey?
EA: My parents originally came from eastern Turkey, but I was born and bred in the Netherlands. Until I was about 20 I used to accompany my parents each year to Istanbul, where my grandparents lived and where the whole family would meet every summer. I have wonderfully intense and rich childhood memories of those times, the city and its culture. The air was full of drama, chaos, joy, and sadness, everything was expressive and physical. It was only as I got older that I realized how deeply all those things had affected me, and how much I cherish the memories. These days I often go to Bodrum during my parents’ long annual stay there and have a week’s seaside holiday with them. This is my first exhibition in Turkey.