Interview: Olgu Sümengen Berker
Luca Curci talks with Olgu Sümengen Berker during VENICE INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2021 at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
Olgu Sümengen Berker was born in Turkey in 1978. Graduated respectively from Anadolu University, Fine Arts Faculty, Ceramic Department (BFA) Eskisehir, Anadolu University, Social Sciences Institute, Ceramic Master Program (MFA), Hacettepe University Social Sciences Institute, Ceramics Proficiency in Art Program. Worked as an academic in various positions and titles in Turkish Universities. She has 11 solo exhibitions in Turkey and Germany and has participated in more than 70 national and international group and competition exhibitions around the world. She has 4 awards and her work takes place in private or museum collections. She moved to Germany in 2017 and worked as an independent artist at her studio and lecturing on art in NATO Joint Force Headquarters Brunssum, Arts and Crafts Center, Netherlands. Even though she has started with the interpretations of Anatolian mother goddess figurines which is one of the most common ancient icons of her home country and region and culture, her work turned into expressing and interpreting life through the female body and posture. Not only the themes that she is working on but also techniques and materials varied throughout the years. Such as social or common concepts related to female individuals like osteoporosis or abuse and gender equality and her point of view was more like looking through a window from inside to outside. Her recent work can be described as looking inside. She is dealing with the environment that impresses her with the routes and road maps that she is driving along. She expresses such an impression through the female figure sculptures. She works with various decorating and sculpting techniques to create her sculpture depending on her theme. She describes her recent work as an expression of herself presenting the visual records of her memory.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Olgu Sümengen Berker – Art for me is not only the best way to express life and myself, and how I see the world from my window, but also an applied research area that I continuously learn and play. And an environment that widens my mind.
LC – How did you get to your current artistic practice?
OSB – I completed all three cycles of art education. My last graduation was from the Proficiency in Art Program (equivalent to Ph.D.) of the Institute of Fine Arts of Hacettepe University in Turkey. But years of artistic production paved the way to get to my current artistic practice mainly.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
OSB – I have a lot of inspiration resources from my environment, readings, other artists’ works or technics as well as their thoughts… Everything. For my recent work altered images of landscapes, google maps logs (images of the maps of the daily routes), inspires me to transfer them on the surface of the body of my figures.
LC – What is your creative process like?
OSB – I gather a lot of visual material and the ceramic technic or the process that I would like to work on or learn has a big role in my creative process. I make searches, read a lot and follow other artists who are working with similar technics. And I combine all these visual and technical data around a subject or expression. The female body is my usual subject but I take the creation process like thinking through making. As I build up my sculpture I feel like I am in the visual thinking process.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
OSB – Everything goes online and as an artist, you have to find a way to pass your message through online sources. A kind of struggling in the virtual reality with the virtualized artwork… Getting used to living in the lightning-speed changing conditions with the pandemic is the new description of the challenge for a visual artist.
LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this exhibition? How is it connected to the theme of the entire festival?
OSB – The relationship between body and space is the theme of the Art Fair. I usually work on the female body as a subject. The transferred or hand-decorated images of maps and routes on the surface of my figure titled “On the Road” meets with the space concept of the entire Art Fair. The images of maps and routes presented on the maps are my google maps account log, I take these logs and images like traces of the daily living experiences transfused on the body of the figure. Like the impression of the space on our mind in real life. I would like to represent all the space, environment, and body relation on the surface of my figure, each of them, are visual pages of my diary, like traces of my vision about my personal life, art, and environment…
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the festival?
OSB – When I saw the post about the theme of the fair I thought it is a perfect match with my recent subject of art. During these extraordinary days, we all question our relationship with space in our daily routines. We had to get used to a completely changed space and routine perception. For this reason, I think ITSLIQUID GROUP allows artists to represent all these interpretations with their thematic events and vision.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
OSB – Yes. It is an opportunity for me to meet the Italian or Venice art spectator.
LC – Did you enjoy ve cooperating with us?
OSB – Yes, during the exhibition process the members of the committee, especially Giulia Spagnuolo, were so involving and helpful in each stage and challenge we had because of the shipment, and so on.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
OSB – I think the ITSLIQUID Platform represents the opportunity of presence in the international art scene with all-year-round events in different locations for artists.