Interview: Sami Morhayim & Deniz Koray
Luca Curci talks with Sami Morhayim & Deniz Koray Yilmaz during THE EXTENDED BODY 2020 at THE LINE Contemporary Art Space.
Sami Morhayim, Istanbul based filmmaker, graduated from Koç University, Media and Visual Arts and Psychology. He is working as a freelance director and videographer. His short films, that he produced and directed by himself, had been shown in both national and international film festivals. Nowadays he is in pre-production process in his latest short film called “Susam” and plans to film it in the summer of 2020.
Deniz Koray Yilmaz, Istanbul based filmmaker, graduated from Koç University, Media and Visual Arts. Since then he is working as a freelance director and videographer. His recent works varies as advertisement, video art, documentary and short films. When he isn’t glued to a camera, he spends time working on his second short film, “#misogynist”. Koray and Sami’s works try to play around body dysfunctions, surreal reality, identity and influence of society on the individuals.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Deniz Koray Yilmaz – Living a life in uncertainty and chaos, art becomes an important tool for understanding and externalizing ourselves. Deeper in your thoughts and feelings, you start to recognize some patterns, some themes in yourself and the urge to understand those things becomes a must. How can you understand? How can you find out and know yourself better?
Sami Morhayim – For me, it means both individual and collective memory. I give huge importance to archiving, so any work I produce is an instrument to experience what I have felt during those times and an opportunity to leave a mark to the future of me. Even though I try to practice my works in different fields, I cannot disconnect from the stories of the past and today, that’s what mainly shapes my work.
LC – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
DKY – We always wanted to be a part of the visual world of art. Studying at college, I started working as a director of photography in Sami’s short films. He always wanted to be a film director. I think nothing has changed (laughs). Our partnership began to expand, and we started to create new works together through this fruitful partnership.
SM – In our daily lives, we experience absurd coincidences. The hyper-reality makes us find inspiration out of it. Also, our friendship grew so much in the last ten years that it highly contributes to our works. A small idea or a small event that we pass through rapidly turns into a project without hesitation. Of course, we have different backgrounds and perspectives about the world, but at the end of the day we always find a way to blend those differences together.
LC – Which subject are you working on?
DKY – We have two different short film projects going on. In Sami’s film, he underlines a three-generation family drama focusing on religious dogmas and the humor it reveals. In my film I try to focus on lynch culture in society and its effects on a single person. The absurdities that we talked earlier comes alive with those projects.
SM – We are planning on a short video project about love in corona times. We have been brainstorming it for a while and I am trying to find ways to go to Koray’s house to film it (laughs). It seems the only obstacle upon this project. When we’re through with all this crisis we are planning to finish that project as well.
LC – Which art themes do you pursue? What is your preferred subject, if there is any?
SM – Identity plays a huge role in what we are creating. We can expand this to any terms of identity such as psychological, cultural, religious or social. The concept being so vague in definition, it allows us to play within its borders so easily. We feel having the ability to bend the reality.
DKY – Anything around us is shaped by how we see it, so as we did it in “They Call Me Human” project, we are sure we will pursue this concept in our work often, because we enjoyed every single moment of production of this video installation. I guess we have this problem with social instruments surrounding us.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
DKY – The most important thing is to observe everything around you. Observing yourself, your emotions. We constantly feed ourselves to create. I always take notes for myself and try to uncover my stream of consciousness. I think that best ideas are hidden in the depth of ourselves and creating some work starts to become part of who we are. This constantly changing self gives us new subjects, new inspirations to observe and create.
SM – This is what I have never thought of consciously. I would say within myself that’s why I will go with my memory. I feel like I am carrying everyone’s stories in an endless sack. As time passes by, all that different information become one, and any time I say I am going on a new project, I collect pieces from them -unconsciously. Generally, I spend so much time with those occasions that even though I was not in that story, I start to become in it and what is exciting about this method is that it keeps those stories more alive than it was in real-time. Now, I own them. They are being processed constantly in my mind, like in a factory.
LC – What is your creative process like?
DKY – Having someone who perceives the world similar is a big chance. We share so much time together with Sami. We constantly feed each other. Amongst all the sources we gather, generally one of us share the idea with the other.
SM – Then, as it happens with a snowball, it goes bigger in the process. At the end of it, we always forget who came up with the idea. I think that’s the best part about it.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
SM – It’s the end of the projects we have the up and downs. Starting to a project is the easiest action, finding a distinguishable idea is same. However, as we develop the project through this process, we may struggle towards the end. This is where being a duo comes in handy. If one of us can’t progress with editing the project, the other comes to the spot and vice versa. This leads us to constant workflow.
DKY – Another point is that to realize what you have written in the text to convert it into a visual. You might have prepared or written the greatest project, but things work different than in your text. As we are constantly improving ourselves to prepare for filming, there are always unexpected details happening throughout the filming process.
LC – What is your idea about ITSLIQUID GROUP?
SM – Giving space to emerging artist is what will improve the art scene. We are willing to attend different events of ITSLIQUID GROUP. I am sure it will give us a chance to meet different people from different perspectives.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
DKY – Being part of this big family gives us huge boost, we are grateful to be part of this contemporary and international platform.