Büşra Çeğil’s augmented reality project exhibition titled “In Search of Lost Time / Istanbul” was presented to the experience of art lovers within the scope of Senkron Synchronized Video Art Exhibitions between 15-30 April.
“…If we revive another memory taken from a different year, we find between the two, thanks to lacunae, to vast stretches of oblivion, as it were the gulf of a difference in altitude or the incompatibility of two divers qualities, that of the air we breathe and the colour of the scene before our eyes.” says Proust and continues, “memories bathed in the mind” indicate that memories are recreations of the past. Remembering is often possible through metaphors. Human beings approach memory with various traces and metaphors. Sometimes we remember it with a space, a smell, a sound, and sometimes we turn it into a defense mechanism that we treat ourselves. “Images survive even if we don’t remember,” says Bergson. The mind, which recalls with encounters, literally reproduces it and bends the past and gives a new form. The past reproduces itself in the “now” thanks to memory. With this video series, which takes its name from Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, the artist tends to understand the nature of remembering and forgetting in an aesthetic context. (Büşra Çeğil, 2021)
Can you tell us about your art practice?
I am an artist who makes use of sociological and psychological elements. I use leitmotifs such as immigration, mourning, displacement, melancholy, social memory. Recently, I have been trying to make more site-specific installations in my works. I examine mourning and melancholy in space through the relationship between human and space.
How did you start your work ‘In Search of Lost Time / Istanbul’ ? How did the process develop?
Actually, we recently prepared a project for Hasankeyf with my friend Hamza Kırbaş, a video artist, and an American journalist. But until we held this exhibition, Hasankeyf was completely destroyed. Apart from that, I wanted to do something about Istanbul in Istanbul. Ömer Abed Han is a place I pass by, walk every day and even rent a workshop for a while; cinematographic and very valuable structure. It all came about at the same time while thinking about doing something related to those who are currently doomed to perish. I had wanted to start Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time” series for a long time, but I just couldn’t get started. Reading the work, doing something about these buildings at that time… On the other hand, I went away and spent three months in Switzerland at that time, going out from the inside, turning back inside and looking at these events… All this coincided with Senkron Synchronized Video Exhibitions. I thought I could start from here.
You are an artist who has previously produced work using modeling, casting and photographs. Also, ‘In Search of Lost Time’ owes its name to literature. Can you talk about the production process of this interdisciplinary work?
Materials and techniques are actually just tools for me, so they are always changeable. While working, I ask the work with which material it wants to exist. In Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time”, thoughts such as that time is an inseparable whole, the past continues in the present thanks to memory, are mentioned and I can say that I have found traces of my own approach in these novels. I can say that memory, the world of consciousness, dream and dream universe and the fiction of psychological time are basic similarities. The closeness of all associations, combining Augmented Reality with the melting frames that I am currently working on, especially questioning the experience of remembering and forgetting, and simultaneously getting lost in Proust’s universe triggered me to give this name to the project.
How does this work aim to combine the experience of remembering and forgetting hidden in self? What role does Istanbul play in a merger?
Actually, I start out entirely from my personal experiences. Unfortunately, we experience the destruction of historical buildings in the city where I was born, lived, and grew up, and an attempt to erase our memories in the same way. The past is tried to be forgotten. But I know that through past memory it recreates itself in the present; it bends and reforms with the help of the mind. In this context, I reconstruct the historical buildings of Istanbul, which have been left to disappear and are special for me, with my own ways of remembering and forgetting.
How do you interpret the contribution of the video format to this work that centers on remembering and Istanbul? Can you tell us what the video adds to the work?
Unlike melting frames and my other installations, “In Search of Lost Time” series focus on this moment. In fact, it is about the way these structures disappear before our eyes when we want to see them or look at them. I would like to emphasize that we are also witnessing history and positioning ourselves as only viewers while everything is happening. Because Ömer Abed Han is still there, it is not too late like Hasankeyf. It’s taking damage now, while we’re all watching.
Can you tell us about your future projects? Will you continue your production in video format?
I am planning to open a solo exhibition in Switzerland in three months. I do not limit myself at all. My exhibition in Switzerland will be fully experienced as AR. I try to move forward with the technique that best reflects my imaginary world. I try to choose the technique that the current piece needs. I have another plan to do an exhibition when I get back. This exhibition will be about dreams, so we have been examining my dreams with the existential psychoanalyst Süreyya Arıcan for about a year; I plan to work with different mediums such as oil painting, sculpture and video for the exhibition. These are the ones that are ready for now, and different methods can be added in the process.
Thanks for the interview.