Burcak Yetkin: Portals of Melancholy

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Burcak Yetkin: Portals of Melancholy

The most painful image that a modern person can try on is the image of a wanderer who finds himself in a strange area, a strange city, or a foreign country. Wanderer is a collective term describing different characters: homeless, emigrant, refugee, wanderer, night tramp, and so on. This is some kind of maximally unprotected person, directly or indirectly experiencing the forces and consequences of the most acute world events (wars, pandemics, economic crises, state and legislative arbitrariness). The image of the wanderer is becoming more and more important and poignant in modern art. More and more modern artists are turning to this image, striving to subtly feel the nerve of today. Today I want to tell you about the amazing and heart-rending works of Burcak Yetkin, a very subtle and extraordinary photographer from Istanbul. In my opinion, he is one of the few who came as close as possible to depicting the complex image of a modern wanderer.

Contemporary art

The key series of photographs by Burcak Yetkin is dedicated to closed windows photographed from the street. These are usually photos of a window group and a balcony, with curtains or blinds loosely closed. It seems that this is a very simple technique from the point of view of the method, but in fact, behind the imaginary simplicity lies a huge work of a superconscious artist who designed for us a whole cascade of portals to other realities. Burcak Yetkin is no stranger to some kind of drama, but this is not far-fetched drama, but the conscious use of subtle emotional techniques. In this series of works, we come into contact with at least four layers of reality: The first layer is the space of a dark street, from where fixation and observation take place. This is the layer of a wanderer who, for some reason, found himself outside at night. The wanderer, for some reason, is forced to look at other people's windows and not be inside. A wanderer is a figure with the largest reserves of unspoken meanings and the most emotional potential. 

Layer 2 is documentary (ethnographic, anthropological, and sociological) fragments of the reality of other people's apartments and houses. This is the little that can be seen through curtains or window grilles: a little light from a lamp, a heater, plants, or paintings. This is the little that is available to the wanderer's gaze and what makes his picture of alien worlds fragmentary. Layer 3 is the reality of the boundaries between alien worlds and the world of the wanderer. The borders are windows and grilles, trees and glare, reflections and shadows. The darkness of the night and artificial lighting make these boundaries eternal and impassable, making the wanderer a completely alien character to these locations, even if he fixes his own windows. And finally, layer 4 is an unmanifested relationship and a variety of unresolved dramatic situations that arise at the junction of the three previous layers. 

Burcak Yetkin creates a concentrated impression through photographs, a concentrated experience that can be experienced on a physical, emotional, and rational level at the same time. It is as if the photographer reinvents the most ancient functions of art (mimesis, imitation, and narrative) and combines them with modern ones (intertextuality, polysemanticism, and open work). This is a very rare and unique effect when using a minimum amount of expressive means. The concept of the series turns into the exposure of an array of dramatic situations of our time and hides the potential of the empathic. The photo series becomes an essay on alienation and a sense of homelessness, as well as a manifesto of mild melancholy, which allows you to brighten up the horrors of reality and infect you with hope. A series of photographs of Burcak Yetkin windows shows the phrase "everything will be fine," said when this phrase is most needed.

Author: Jenya Stashkov, artist and art critic, Sheffield, UK