FEATURED MEMBER – Eda Elif Tibet

Posted on February 9, 2011

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http://www.edaeliftibet.daportfolio.com/

Currently as a social anthropology PhD student at the University of Kent in UK, I aim to broaden up my capabilities of understanding on the infinitive variations of human behavior and its’ surroundings. I had always been fascinated by this tremendous cultural diversity and always looked forward to experience different worlds .I chose to study and document the cultures visually and try to experiment on the usages of old and new mediums to reflect my vision and perspective through a multi sensory approach.

   
Q.  What does art mean to you?
A.  Art feels like a constant buzz in my head awakening me during the practicalities of the every day life. I find my self quite often, trying to recognize where it actually comes from and how it appears within me, questioning myself about the reasons why I need it so much even though I cannot claim to be one that performs or creates it.  However, it certainly enables me to brake free from those that I take for granted. A sudden powerful image with that particular meaning that lets me scream out loud the things that often touch me, affect me, the things that I find worth looking at, so I could share …

Q.  Do you have a favorite modern artist?
A.  The one that comes first to my mind is the British-Indian musician: Susheela Raman. With her hypnotic voice, she amazingly harmonizes the sounds of such great historical background that I love from East to West. Her fusion is a feast to my ears and soul and it motivates me in my own work.

Q.  Who are the artists you admire? Can you explain why?
A.  I really appreciate Diane Arbus, as she was the extraordinary one of her own era; Robert Capa, for his appetite to fame and bravery; Nadav Kandar, not for his portraits but for his amazing recent work on the long river of Yangtze, in which I think he positions human beings within their non-spaces very effectively to be able to show the constant structural and social changes the people face in today’s China; and finally George Georgiou, for his works on Turks, it is always great to see my own people from different perspectives; I like his point of view pretty much. 

   
Q.  Can you talk about your social anthropology experience?
A.  I guess my first experience goes all the way back to 14 years ago, where I was the only Turkish kid studying at a Catholic Christian school in Portugal. It took me quite a while to understand the cultural differences, the language and it took me long to adopt this new way of life. I remember having a great desire to be accepted into that little cruel community, all 7-8 years old. After that harsh training I was ready and strong enough I guess to try to discover possibly everywhere that I could go. Though, my main interest started four years ago in India, where I lived and worked for an entire year. Then I went back again in the summer of 2009, as a backpacker and I tried to understand as much as possible. I traveled all around the continent and found out a lot about what I wanted to do in life, and just at that period of my life, I received a scholarship for a PhD program in the UK and that’s how it all started.

Q.  Can you define ‘visual anthropology’ for us?
A.  Only in the late 30’s, visual anthropology became a popular branch when the most famous anthropologist of all the times; Margaret Mead and her ex husband George Bateson, decided to use photography and other visual methods in their anthropological investigations and documentations. It has been a discipline since that is widely discussed by the academicians where its objectivity as a scientific method is quite under debate. Also it challenges the domination of written expression as it supports the power of images and sounds, although academia is still not ready to replace words with the visuals.

Q.  What inspired you to mix photography with anthropology?
A.  My inspiration on photography was always an anthropological one and my interest on ethnographic details and the art within it would never be complete without the usage of photography. They are a great combination if one knows how to use them ethically!
Anthropology is the study of perceptions! And photography is one great instrument that could provide to experience the multidimensionality of “being human” as it takes you into an incredible journey.

Q.  What does photography mean to you?
A.  A signed love letter to the ones I’ve known for a while, for a moment or even a second…

Q.  Can you talk about the biggest challenges you faced?
A.  I once tried to travel from Katmandu to Varanasi changing three vehicles in 32 hours under the heat of 48 degrees, lastly in a train with no air conditioning that kept stopping in the middle of nowhere (nightmare express). I was also terribly ill, had high fever, nothing was going right way, I had annoying people around me, and dangerous looks and situations quite unpleasant and scary. By the time I reached my destination, I was almost hallucinating, had no strength to carry my bag nor to keep my self still, I thought what the hell was I doing there! Why am I suffering so much in a foreign country of a total different cosmology, air and environment? Why was I doing this to myself? That extremely unpleasant travel that lasted in two days felt like two years of my life, probably the most mentally and physically challenging experience compared to all those that I’ve experienced, however, at the end I luckily did understand what I was doing there!

Q.  Do you have a favorite piece among your works? Can you explain why?
A.  I quite like the portrait of the Ladakhi women that I took in Leh festival in 2007. Maybe because of my fascination to the Tibetan culture in general but her thirsty look and the silver grey water cup she is holding in her hand, the focus on her colures while the rest is just the white desert in the top of the Himalayas under an overexposed sun, it gives me great pleasure to look at.

Q.  What were your subjects when you first started out?
A.  My subject has always been the human being and the landscape around them, how they integrate and construct their own identities within the environment they perceive.

Q.  Could you tell us a bit more about your creative process?
A.  I first started taking random natural photographs on the mountains from the expeditions I have been around Turkey. Then I started traveling for real and realized my interest in the human subject and everything that is related to it. I thought a wide angle and a 50mm was necessary for me, I invested all I had on a professional digital. After two years, I had to sell it to go back to India again. Luckily I found a middle format in the craziest bazaar “chandi chowk” of New Delhi that changed all my look and approach to photography. Since then, I have been extremely happy!

Q.  What equipment do you use and why?
A.  I use Yashica 635 because I love the colures and the angle it provides. Nowadays I intend to purchase a Canon 7D so I can take some videos too.

Q.  What techniques do you use to obtain the piece you want?
A.  I am not very good in discussing the techniques, but I usually build an interaction with the subject beforehand. Positive or negative, then I start taking photos; I try to respect the privacy and human rights of my subjects as much as I can!

Q.  What is the motivation behind your choice of material?
A.  I think the camera brings irreplaceable quality of interaction and communication between the people being shot and the one that is actually shooting. That is my biggest motivation.

Q.  Can you talk about one of your strongest work? 
A.  I like my series on my current work on Cappadocia. I like the pastel fading tones and the simplicity of the images where I also try to achieve some story telling, if it actually tells any.

   
Q.  Can you talk about the experience of being in Cappadocia?
A.  The experience is very pleasant and powerful. It feels like being in a fairy tale, especially when I am in my cave viewing the moonlike landscape from its’ window and telling the experience to friends across the continents as I also have the Internet connection inside, it feels overwhelming!

Q.  How does it inspire you?
A.  It inspires me so strongly that I almost feel like walking on the moon!

Q.  Can you tell us the story behind your inspiration for Cappadocia?
A.  The sculpted communal architecture of Cappadocia, is a great example for communal art that is not produced by a few intellectuals or specialists but by the spontaneous and continuing activity of various people with a common heritage, acting under a community of experience. To this day, there are still a few inhabited caves by the local community where the old Turkish concept of living space prior to industrialization and modernization, is still practiced.

My great grand father was an ex-cave dweller, until he immigrated to the big financial city like many did. I wanted to discover how it feels to be one, how everything would be today if he stayed there? Would I ever exist? Would I’ve ever been a cave dweller myself?

Q.  Are you working on new projects currently?
A.  I am on the process of getting started to an ethno-fiction documentary on the ex cave dwellers of Cappadocia. Then, I have my next documentary film project with a French research group, on Tibetan medicine and its practitioners; the amchis of Ladakh /India.

Q.  What are your professional ambitions and your projects for 2011?
A.  I hope to enhance my self. I am willing to experience in visual anthropology as much as I can, by integrating both old and new media. I want to face new challenges and create possibilities to be accepted by its’ strict community, so that art as a method could be widely appreciated in academia as well. That is my ambition!

Q.  How do you hope Pelime can help with this?
A.  It is always great to meet people with similar interests and vision. I would love to get to know more about on what others work on and if any possible joint project, I am always game for it!

            

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