Art is My Healing Road

We had interview with Leyla Emadi the occasion of her 3th solo exhibition “Gel-Git”, and talked about her art career and new artworks. 

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Fotoğraflar: Serkan Eldeleklioğlu

We have known Leyla Emadi since her first solo exhibition “Abluka”. We witnessed her protest stand, rebellion and challenge to social problems, especially violence against women and murders of women. At her 2th solo exhibition “Yaralar”, we met with her more positive, individual and healing affirmation artworks. 3th solo exhibition “Gel-Git” is kind of acontinutaion of “Yaralar”…  Art enthusiats can visit  “Gel-Git” between February 16 and April 3, 2021 at Mixer. We visited Emadi in her studio, while preperations for exhibition are continuing. Artist has answered to our questions with her frankness, smiling and intense sense of consciousness.

Photos by Serkan Eldeleklioğlu

You are originally from Iran and you are born in Ankara. How did growing up in different two culture affect you?

My father studied at Gazi University. I was born, while he was studying. We returned to Iran, when he graduated. After the revolution, we came to Turkey in 1983 for good. The reason why he chose this country is that he studied the university here, he is an Azerm and his language familiar with Turkish language and he admire Atatürk. I am very happy, fortunately we came to Turkey. We are two countries that living on the same lands. It is already same geography. Therefore, I cannot say that there is a huge difference. Some things are similar in two countries’ DNA. For example, even though I haven’t lived in Iran for many years, my eyes fill with tears when I hear a Persian music. The same goes when I go Anıtkabir or hear the Turkish National Anthem. I’m 80s child. Both Turkey and Iran were complicated in 1980s… From a perspective of politics, these two countries are parallel. As an artist, I have an a great data. I don’t feel to produce when every thing is great. If there is a problem and it hurts me, I need to throw up it. Because I usually work on trauma, something has to affect me. Frankly, a good thing does not affect me too much, because I think that it should be anyway.

Do you believe that “geography is destiny” ?

Yes, I believe but to some extent. It is destiny, but what do you put on it, your choices are what you add to your individual life. It is not that take a back seat… Person should has a sense of improving both society and yourself. Not just geography, everything is destiny; but we direct it with our choices.

Many writings from Mevlana to Star Wars attract attention in your artworks. Why do you use writing forn often?

I have always used writing, but there has been direct writing lately. Writing is a step to eliminate trauma. Actually, it is that make a clean breast of something. There is also such something in writing: You convey message and other person get it. Everything is clear. And I think, writing can convey feeling. I don’t believe making art for art’s sake. I make it for myself. This is my road to heal myself.   After it get out me, I’m looking with artistic eye; I try to blent them.

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Who influenced you the most in your interest in writing?

I love Turgut Uyar’s poems. The words of Nazım Hikmet and Aziz Nesin take me into great places. I have a lots of artworks that produce from their words. If a word or phrase affect me, I can produce from it. I’m inspired by word. I remember some words, which have said in my family, like  “ Are you a vagrant!” or “comeuppance”. Because of these words were overwhelming, I have produced beton artworks.

“I hope, people can reconnect with their inner world who have visited exhibition. It is the most difficult thing in this world that talking with ourself. We are in a great bustle in order to don’t hear our inner voice. I want to announce this inner voice.”

I hope, people can reconnect with their inner world who have visited exhibition. It is the most difficult thing in this world that talking with ourself. We are in a great bustle in order to don’t hear our inner voice. I want to announce this inner voice.

You work on trauma. What is the source of this trauma?

I haven’t experience terrible traumatic events in my family during my childhood, not in that sense, but as child we have experienced political things that affected our house. Stres of parents, migration… All those are trauma. I used to concern more social traumas, now I’m more individual. Because I convinced that if you improve person, society will improve too. That’s why, I concern more inner world. I want that people thinks about their inner world, “ There is something deep inside, go down and see it.”

Your messages in your artworks are so clear, there is no ambiguity. Why?

This is also about me. I like clarity. I don’t like to in limbo. Because I have lived in limbo for years. Uncertainty bother me too much in this sense. Clarity is good for me. Whereas life in itself is an ambiguity. This is something that still I can’t digest. I have been working on it for years. Submission is necessary. Therefore, I like clarity in my artworks.

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Atelier of artist
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Atelier of artist house many colorful item

What is your artwork that seperate from other artworks, and special for you?

I can say that it is “Büyük Buluşma” from my first solo exhibition “Abluka”, which I made with my political traumas. I don’t give it to anyone. It reminds me those traumas and I know the way I came. This artwork is about persecution and animal slaughter. Why is pig haram, but veal is not? Both of them animal… I believe that we shoul talk about those. Somethings are imposed on us. We don’t know how to question. After revelution, our family broke up. Most of them went Germany. We used to go often. I always saw pig on the one hand, and halal foods on the other hand. Someone eats pork but why don’t we? This is something that comes from there. There is also Hezbollah’s hog-tie. The conceptual confusion there bothers me.

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Leyla Emadi states that she did not give her “Büyük Buluşma” (The Big Meetin) painting to anyone.

It has been 10 years since yur first solo exhibition “Abluka” . How did you proceed to both your personal and artistic travel during this time?

My previous artworks were more intense and had social content. Those artworks were more depressive. And were political a little bit. Because I was affected by negatives. I was watching the news all- time. This fed me, but also it was a vicious cycle for me. That’s why, I produced more aggressive artworks. I stopped listening to news the news anymore in order to trauma cleanup way out of this vicious cycle. Over the years, I have learned to return myself, I have started to care more about individual more than the society. Therefore, my artworks have become simpler. I began to focus on emotions that make me feel good instead of producing artworks that nourish me negative. I don’t demonstrate my rebellion that such negative anymore, I do it more positive way. My expressions were fed by negatives in the past. When I remove those negatives from my life, my perspective changed completely. While I was getting angry easily in traffic or watching news, now I can look at things differently. My perspective changed, so things did not effect me. I began to think more about “ How I can fix it?” I used to incite myself from this and  actually incite this event too. Because the content of my artworks were coming from there. Now it’s opposite. I try to put out it, and think about how can I transfer it.  Therefore, my artworks are simpler now; the article has entered my life and so I began to focus on clear discourse.

What has the uneasiness, rebellion and protest stand that dominated your previous artworks turn into now?

This rebellion turns into resignation. The rebellion is always in there, but my presentation style is changed. It has soften with age. Because twisting something hurts you, it does not change that what happening. Twisting something just hurts you; it does not change what is happening. Therefore, I have focused on how I can solve things calmly that are happening. I can say that my art is simpler now because of that.

So, what does time mean to you?

I like this statement very much; “Time: the killer and the healer.” Time could be both killer and healer. It depends on perspective… Depending on your mod, you can look at things positively or negatively.

I like this statement very much; “Time: the killer and the healer.” Time could be both killer and healer. It depends on perspective… Depending on your mod, you can look at things positively or negatively.

How your 3th solo exhibition “Gel-Git” come into existence? What did feed you?

“Gel-Git” is not much different from my 2th solo exhibition “Yaralar”. During the “Yaralar” period, I began to move away from negative things and turn to my internal world. This was my recovery period. The starting point of this exhibition was my interest in plants. Drawing them made me feel good. “Gel-Git” is my second step in this way after “Yaralar”. I went into deeper there. This exhibition is about our comfort zones… We settled in Italy for education of our children before pandemic, last year. However, we didn’t change our regular life in here; we were coming and going to Turkey. We were about return to Italy the week that outbreak of pandemic, but we couldn’t. We had the all pandemic in here. We have lived about 7-8 months in Italy. At that period, we moved away from our comfort zones and started from scratch. We made such a desicion for education of our children, then I began to question wheter it is not right desicison. Moving away from comfort zone is a good thing, but if it is not? I questioned that why we didn’t give up this much efforts and start from scratch? “Gel-Git” came into existence like that. The notes on my artwork “Kırk Yıllık Kahve Hatrının Bittiği Yerdeyim” ( I am where the 40 year-old coffee sake ends) which is starting point of exhibition, I have wrote during those days. After this work, “Konfor Alanı” (Confort Zone) came out. I made it, poured it concrete and broke its lower base. That artwork represents my way out of comfort zone. I have rub shoulder with the theme of ambiguity and obscurity for many years.  Life means ambiguity. I made these things to learn this lesson fully.  I am still questioning. “Gel-Git” is a kind of research exhibition. It can changed the way of me and those who visited exhibition.

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“40 Yıllık Kahve Hatrının Bittiği Yerdeyim” from exhibition

Do you have any expectation from those who visit “Gel-Git” exhibition?

I hope, people can reconnect with their inner world who have visited exhibition. It is the most difficult thing in this world that talking with ourself. We are in a great bustle in order to don’t hear our inner voice. I want to announce this inner voice.

Could you give some information about your new project?

I’m working on a project that about femicides.

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