Artist of the Week: Nilbar Güreş

Top: Nilbar Güreş, Open Photo Booth, 2011. Bottom: Nilbar Güreş: "Self-Defloration", Mixed Media, 2006

Vienna/New York based artist Nilbar Güreş (*1977) works with a performative and gender sensitive approach on cultural observation. She creates conceptual forms of filmic settings to produce photographic images, collage, drawings and videos.

Future Audience: Your work is based on photography, but one couldn’t just describe them as “photographs”. Would you feel comfortable with saying that you are creating photographic images through a performative approach”?

Nilbar Güreş: Part of the photographic works is the documented versions of performances. I actually want the figures to be in –constant– motion while photographing, but what I mean is not the type of motion you see in videos. It is more like capturing ‘that moment’ while the figures are involved in a natural action. The setting I want to create here is maybe a frame where figures try to find their own places and perform as themselves or a presentation that –although performative– is minimized to a core action from which the act of “performing” is extracted, yet one where you can discover (hidden) surprises…

Future Audience: Where do you place the audience in your works taking into account the problematic of scene and presentation?

Nilbar Güreş: The audience could directly take the images as they are to opine depending on how empathetic they feel towards the work, or they could read them through their own biography. What concerns me most is how women read the works. On the other hand, the rate of male interest and their comments on images document interesting results on to which extent they comprehend the issues of gender roles and distribution. For instance, the performers and the female audience share the same position in “Unknown Sports”. Remember the photography triplets of the “Unknown Sports” series, which I exhibited at the 11th Istanbul Biennial; everyone comes up both in the scene and as audience respectively. So that’s where I place the audience then…

Future Audience: Your production is not confined to photography and video, but you also produce collages and drawings, as well, and you are just as loyal to the setting in drawings as you are in photography and videos. Your pictorial material makes the elements inside the photographic image more visible. Which one is more useful for finding the form while working on the setting of a work; which material makes it easier for the work to surface? Do drawings come first, or is it photography?

Nilbar Güreş: The works exhibited at the 11th Istanbul Biennial  (“Unknown Sports series”) were created after drawings and performances and then turned into photography. The process for the works exhibited at the Berlin Biennial (“Çırçır series”) started with the motivation to create photography, but I went on with sketches as I couldn’t remain there every single day to think. Drawings come first because drawing something is a faster and more practical process than creating a ‘setting’. What I mean is a rough sketch, nothing more. Yet those without any drawings or sketches, which crystallize at the shooting location, may strangely turn out to be most influential works.

Future Audience:  What are the spatial and geographic influences on your work as far as describing the conceptual plateau when you say “shooting location”?

Nilbar Güreş: Generally, what I do before starting a work is look for places where the work can best function. And sometimes my story automatically takes me to the location. Finding the right shooting location to me is like searching and finding the most suitable arena to minimize the subject I seek and its story, which spans over time, into a single, saturated snapshot...