A few weeks ago I told you about reaching outside of my comfort zone and making contact with a local gallery here. The manager, Catherine, kindly arranged for me to meet Yasemin Yilmaz, an artist based in Germany who has curated the show about to be exhibited at Stal Gallery entitled Globalization, Connections, Time. You can see and learn more about Yasemin’s work via her website.
Carrie: Welcome Yasemin to Artist Strong! When did you first discover your love of the arts?
I’ve always been drawn to the arts, ever since I was little. I’ve been drawing all of my life. But, if I am honest, half of my life I didn’t want it. I thought I should do something “real.” You know, a “stable” career. I had a scholarship that paid a quarter of the cost for attending the arts academy in New Orleans. But I kept thinking about the cost. And the question of what to do for work being an artist? I didn’t want to force it so I returned to Germany, where I earned a degree in foreign languages and economics. I got an exciting job. But all along the way I was still painting, taking photos, etc. I made art alongside my job because I didn’t want to take it seriously or make art my focus. I actually wanted to escape from my interest in the arts. But, in the end, I realized I cannot stop. I feel compelled. I still struggle with it because I feel taken over and ruled by the arts. But I can’t escape it. While I’m not always comfortable with that, I also feel blessed, like I have something special. Finally, I ended up leaving a really good paying job to go into art studies; I was without security but with my passion. I was working and know the exact moment when I made the decision. Be open to it!
Carrie: Can you please describe the project that has brought you to Muscat, Oman?*
Twelve artists created a piece of art in a limited time of 24 hours, inspired by the daily newspaper in their respective countries and all this happened on the leap day, 29 February 2012. Two artists were selected from each continent. They worked in their home towns and thus were thousands of kilometers apart from each other. Nevertheless their projects are connected for this specific day and time.
That is why I have chosen the title: Globalization-Connection-Time. Globalization, with its advantages and disadvantages, determines our world today. Individuals with common interests were always connected with each other and time is an element which influences all of us.
Hassan Meer, an artist from Muscat, participated in the project. This is why the project will be displayed in Oman.
Carrie: What inspired the idea of Globalization – Connections – Time?*
I was invited to be a participating artist at an international art camp in Romania in 2007. We all worked together in a symbiotic way. And I was curious how the surroundings would influence the artwork itself; if it would be reflected in it. Would artists given a shared project and timeline actually work on their art if they were not at the same place at the same time?
The project became a means of connection. Through the project the artists were working on their own spot and country but became mentally connected through the process of creation.
Carrie: Will any of the creative process be documented? How?
It is up to each artist how they choose to document their process. Some are using Skype recordings, others are actively showcasing work on their websites. The hope is this project can be a base project that opens more doors and allows artists to think about new projects to create.
Carrie: The other part of your stay in Oman includes the project TRADE. What is TRADE about?
Trade is an opportunity for Omani artist Hassan Meer and I to work together, in addition to our shared contributions to the project Globalization, Connections, Time. I am here as an artist in residence due to the program of Stal Gallery. During my stay here we meet every day, talk, and get to know each other better. This is about further, possible future projects, sharing and discussion. We share opinions to stop ourselves from being artists closed from critique and others ideas. It is a dialogue of shared networking and acceptance.
The results of both our creations will be exhibited as well along the Globalization, Connections, Time.
During your stay in Oman for this project, you have offered a workshop for young people. Can you share a bit more about this?
It was a two day workshop for 10 German students and 10 Omani students. They are all teenagers between 15-17 years old. Before I came to Oman I met with the ten German students and asked them to choose a name. The names were of the 10 Omani students I was to meet in Oman. Once each student had a name I gave them the portrait of the students from Oman.
Once they had this portrait and name, the German students filled out a friendship book where they had to imagine how their Omani partner might answer questions about themselves: what they do for hobbies, how many family members do they have, etc.
When I came to Oman I brought those notes and asked the Omani students do the same for the German students. We then shared what the groups thought of each other. It was an interesting dialogue about what kind of prejudices we hold.
In the end it was interesting to them that despite cultural differences, many shared the same future dreams. Or, the same tastes in music, for example, One Direction and Justin Bieber.
In addition to this exercise both groups of students made art from the same subject. There are now 20 artworks to commemorate their collaboration. At the end of it all students met via video conference and were able to ask each other questions and talk to one another.
Carrie: Do you have any other projects you are developing at the moment?
Right now I’m working on a concept. It deals with places I’ve been. I’m photographing my feet walking and what I’m seeing when I travel; I imagine thousands of uncensored photos of walking, of being everywhere, of private and art things.
I enjoy thinking big, I have one project idea bigger than the current one. It’s about water… it would involve multiple artists and multiple regions.
Carrie: How does being both an artist and curator inform your work?
I have always been painting and exhibiting. Regularly I found need to create ideas and projects. It is useful for conceptual projects to be both. The projects forced the curation to happen, as many of my projects involve working with institutions and asking for funding. I returned to school for cultural management, which I recently finished. My final thesis was: Am I a curator or am I an Artist? Do I need to make a choice? The result: No. I’m both. I cannot separate them right now. Yet I often felt cornered to make a decision about one or the other.
In the end, I have discovered that it’s more important to me to see how I see myself; you can’t change others, they will think what they will think anyway.
Carrie: Do you practice any regular habits to develop and maintain your creative practice?
I don’t work every day. There is no structure to my day. I work in chunks of time. My projects determine deadlines and timelines. I take breaks between projects from my art.
I do enjoy the immediacy of newspapers, I use them a lot.
Carrie: What has been an important resource for you as a creative?
Walking. I’m always collecting little pieces of things I find on street. I glue them into the art or paint from them. I enjoy the idea that location is literally placed in artwork. Memory.
Carrie: How do you define Creativity?
Creativity is a process. It is something that evolves and something that can just come up. Creativity happens much earlier than the finished artwork. It can be everywhere: the little smile of your daughter in the morning brings something to your mind that creates an idea. Creativity is connected to many, many things.
BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: Do you live in Oman? Considering coming to the opening on Monday April 7th at Stal Gallery in Muscat. Don’t live in Oman? Check out Stal’s Facebook page where they post images of the shows and catch a glimpse.
Photos of artwork courtesy of Stal Gallery. Featured image is from the exhibit and by Omani artist Hassan Meer.