This is 5 Questions. Each week, we send five questions to an artist featured in Under the Radar, our weekly email highlighting the best art on the ArtSlant network. This week we seek answers from Sarp Kerem Yavuz.
What are you trying to communicate with your work?
For the past three, maybe four years, I have been trying to find a way to criticize political Islam, particularly as it is employed by the Turkish government. I use traditional Islamic and Ottoman patterns to challenge the government’s neo-Ottoman rhetoric and address some the oppression, injustice, and violence people are experiencing in the region.
However, the broader issue I have been attempting to discuss for as long as I can remember, is masculinity, particularly Middle Eastern constructs of masculinity. Having grown up gay in Istanbul, the liberal and secular bubble I was located in certainly judged me but also protected me for the most part. Despite this, I was very cognizant of my otherness, and I wish to create a world in which no 12-year-old feels as conflicted or frightened as I did when I came to terms with my sexual orientation.
What is an artist’s responsibility?
Make the world a better place. Challenge people to question themselves. Surprise people.
Show us the greatest thing you ever made (art or not)?
I have a love-hate relationship with most of my work, so this is a terrible question to ask! Probably this attached image though. A large-format portrait of my friend Nick shot in 2011. It was the start of everything for me—it inspired the In The Closet series, which was my first major body of work.
Tell us about a work you want to make but never will:
I have always wanted to make an old-school Lucas Arts style computer game, like the great Monkey Island Series or Grim Fandango. I have no idea how to code and don’t think there’s a market for intelligent adventure gaming these days so it’ll probably never happen.
Who are three artists we should know but probably don’t?
You should know my outrageously talented photographer & illustrator friend Eda Dürüst.
Visual artist Koral Sagular, who is also probably one of the bravest people I know for daring to be fabulous in Turkey.
And brilliant architectural designer Omer Pekin, with whom I have collaborated on some of the Maşallah series.
—The ArtSlant Team
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(Image at top: Sarp Kerem Yavuz, Ah, 2016)
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