By Tchera Niyego
Beril Gulcan starts the “Between You and Me” project in order to explore the mother/ daughter relationship. During her journey having photographed various mother/ daughters in natural daylight, each in the very space they live their daily lives, and observing the plays, the conflicts; the happenings, pains and pleasures taking place in front of her camera during the shoots, she is prompted to inquire into her own relationship with her mother directly. At this point the artist decides a self-portrait with her mother necessary as a test, to find out about their relationship in the reflection of the image.
Three years later Gulcan feels the captured image is somewhat too aggressive and does not reflect the dynamics of their relationship with her mother today any longer. The project is still a work-in-progress, continuing to capture images not only of mothers and daughters but also father/ sons, brothers and other familial relationships within their own habitats via a medium format analog camera.
Through Gulcan’s semi-documentary images of the human condition we sense clearly that no matter how different the culture and conditioning from which the particular persons may be coming from, we are indeed fundamentally very similar in our psychological make up. The grasping of the mother towards her son, the pride another seems to feel entitled to on account of her daughter, the anger of the daughter towards the mother, or the seeming indifference in yet another case; the affection, the fear, the attachment and the bond; the comradery of brother/ sister, the pity one has for his mother’s grasping, the vengefulness of supposedly having let go while the other is fixated, the anxiety, the hopes and anticipation of a long life the little baby should have ahead, the protectiveness, possessiveness, co-dependency… Above all the so-called-security of being related in blood, bone and marrow …. We reminisce Mike Leigh movies.
Desiring security perpetually recreates boundaries of thought/ time. We love our prison with its walls made of conflict. That is the conflict between ‘what I actually am’ and the notion of ‘what I should be’; ‘should be’ being the projection of thought imposing an image of myself, into the simple facticity of what is actually happening. As opposed to attending to what is happening, I relate only through the self-image, to the image memory has created of the other person. Now we already have six entities in a relationship; the mother, the daughter (or brother/ sister, husband/ wife, etc.), their designated images of themselves and of each other. The empty space in the room is in fact full of our predetermined conceptions … Thinking plays all the major parts in our relationships as well as all of the supporting roles – kind of like Being John Malkovich.
“Between You & Me” Series is an inquiry out of the predicament of conflict. Gulcan lays bare the qualities we seem to have accepted as the inevitable ways of being human, such as the suppressed/ overflowing sexuality in “Klara and Her Daughter”; or the underlying motto “Ease of War” in “Ily’s Daughter”, and the plea “I Want to be your Friend” in “Hannah & Vita”; posing the very important question “Can we ever be completely free of every kind of conflict?” … In her self-portrait with her mother the artist moves forward and almost out of the picture as if she might pass right through us, only while her left hand is left behind assuring her mother it’s all right. The mother seems somewhat pleasantly surprised, a bit skeptical, and august.
Is it possible at all to be completely free of self-images projected by thought and to never again create them? What would our relationships be made of then?
Artist website: www.berilgulcan.com