Pushing her photography into narratives that are playful and soulful in their own manner, Eylül Aslan showcases her transfix towards the female body and form where she captures the subjects in her photos with a sense of suppression and prolific naivety in them.
Where are you currently based and how did you go about getting involved in photography and when did you get started?
I was born in Istanbul, but I moved to Berlin in 2012 so I am currently based there but I am often in Istanbul during the year. In fact, I am flying to Istanbul next week for a whole month because I would like to have a little sunshine, the winter has been too long and I need the inspiration from the sunshine. I was a creative child and my mother was very supportive and directed me into different ways of expressing myself. I was drawing and painting for a while but then realized photography could be another way, perhaps a better way to tell my stories. So my mother suggested I take her camera and shoot for a while. That is how I started. But the reason I continued was my Flickr account. I started a profile with the motivation of my cousin whom I was photographing a lot those early days. I received a lot of attention and it made me realize people wanted to see more of what I photograph so I decided to take it more seriously. I was receiving e-mails from people in the business, offering me their help...that is how I was working as an assistant for a short while.
Your photography is very reminiscent of a French photographer named Claudine Doury in terms of final aesthetic. What sort of influences shaped you towards capturing your work?
I think it is just how I communicate. I love telling stories through photos. So naturally my life experiences affect my photos...heartbreaks, falling in love, moving to another country, being ill, having an accident and breaking my elbow, feeling beautiful or unattractive, seeing something wonderful...
Your photography is quite portrait-driven. Who do you usually cast as your subjects and where do you usually photograph?
I started taking photos of my cousin who used to live together with me at the time...then I got more interested in taking self portraits, which is always the best because it is always easier to just do the pose I have in mind instead of directing someone else. I am really spontaneous but also very decisive about what I like or not like to photograph. Sometimes I see someone walking in the street and if I feel inspired by them, I approach them and ask them if they would be interested in posing for me. And it is also friends, or friends of friends.
I really enjoy using natural daylight so I often prefer being outside or in a bright apartment...but I do use a studio light in dark but inspiring places. So I would say I am not all that picky about location.
There is a playful sense of a narrative in your work. Is it something you usually aim to achieve in a set of photos or is the process quite organic?
I would like to see myself as a fun and playful person, which is just a natural part of my personality, so I guess it is quite organic. I just really appreciate a sense of humor in anything created. Life is already serious, so at least it is nice to be able to laugh or smile when we look at a piece of art.
Your work revolves a lot around the female form and it is encapsulated in mostly all of your work; along with subtle elements of nature- why is that? What do you find very enigmatic along about the female body?
I had not given this much thought before, probably exactly because of not wanting to deal with the answer I would find. And I am not sure if it is entirely true but maybe I find the female form really inspiring, exciting, beautiful, mysterious and daring because I am sexually attracted to women as much as I am to men, in short because I am bisexual. But, and there is a big but, all my life, especially during my adolescence I was not even aware of it. Because it is not a choice, a freedom to choose in my society. I think I suppressed my feelings for a very very long time. Suppression creates curiosity in me. So perhaps it was a way for me to be close to women through my camera because I could not be close to them the way I would have liked to. So again, photography is a tool for me to express myself, to let it all out what is hidden inside of me. Having moved to Berlin has drastically changed my life and allowed me to see myself in different ways. Here I feel like myself and I feel free.
What are you currently up to now and are you producing any new or upcoming work?
My first photography book Trauerweide was published by Editions du LIC last year and this year my zine called Dearslut will be published by Editions Bessard in March. They both deal with the issues women face in suppressive cultures and patriarchal societies such as the Turkish one in which I was born and raised. I would like to have a project that is a bit far from this issue. My mother is a politician and I cannot get away from political issues and they keep coming back to me but I really would like to focus on something else for my next project. Right now I am working on an idea that involves me, colours and different objects.