We often compare different historical epochs, people, events that happened to others on the other side of the world. We seek to justify our inaction or waste of time and money. We try to find any excuses in order to explain why someone achieves much and why we ourselves cannot get even a centimeter closer to our own goals. In this attempt to protect ourselves and in the endless pursuit of material benefits of this world we hardly remember how much we have and how to be satisfied and grateful for what we have. Looking at the works by a Turkish photographer, Ugur Gallen, we realize the richness of each person – the life, the ability to wake up every morning and to see our family members.
The uniqueness of these works lies in the fact that the author provides vivid comparisons, which win your attention and make you reaffirm your values. In the same photo you can see combinations of good and evil, peace and war, wealth and poverty, life and death. Keep it in mind that while you complain about your situation, about the fact that you go on foot instead of driving your own car, there are always those who is eager to live the life you live.
We have made up our minds to talk to the photographer and find out what made him create such works.
-Tell us about yourself, please.
-My name is Ugur and I live in Istanbul. I am 29 years old. I graduated from the University of Business Administration. Now I have been working as a manager of an online sales site, which belongs to one private company. As you see, I have no specialized education, related to photography. As a rule, people call me a photographer in those cases when I start publishing my works in Russia. But I do not consider myself as a photographer at all. To be more specific, I am rather a digital artist. I collect some pictures and make collages out of them with the help of different digital tools. Photography itself is a separate type of art. I have been doing this hobby since 2014. My first collage was devoted to the political events in Turkey.
My photos are devoted to events, which take place in such countries as Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. In addition to it, they show the rights of refugees. There are a lot of refugees in Turkey, who try to move to Europe, where in 2015 I began to explore that issue for the first time. My first work was a picture of the boy Aylan Kurdi’s lifeless body (he was a 3-year old Syrian boy, a refugee of Kurdish origin, who tragically died together with his several relatives on the 2nd of September in 2015 while trying to cross the Mediterranean). The photos of his body on the Turkish coast near the city of Bodrum were published in mass media and attracted a lot of attention. For me personally, that work became a symbol of the refugee tragedy.
-What purpose do you pursue when you create such collages and post them in social networks?
-I want to show the difference between developed and undeveloped countries. I want to show that there are people who suffer from war, starvation and cold. They suffer, while other people live in abundance, peace and tranquility. Instead of fighting in undeveloped countries for stability, opportunity to get education and dissemination of democracy, I asked them to tell me what they would like to have out of what is not available to them right now.
I think the best way to explain existing problems in the modern society is to combine two opposite images in one work. Art has always contributed to the mental awakening of society. And again, it is art that lets society move forward and gives the opportunity to gain more information about what is happening around and beyond a particular city or state. In order to understand the idea of an author, one should know a certain language. Art is a universal language, which is clear to everybody. It is enough just to have a look. People can get different meanings and different ideas from the pictures they see. It is how I see it and it is how I show it to people.
-How do people evaluate your works? Is there any feedback from your audience?
- I get a very positive evaluation of my works from people all over the world. My collages are interesting not only for Muslims and Christians. My work is being followed by Mexico, Brasilia, Russia, India, Israel, France, China, Indonesia and by many other countries. Artists and photojournalists express their admiration for my work and show a reverent attitude to what I do.
You know, indeed our tormented world needs quiet and peace. And we prove with the help of our behaviour that we are hardly those people who would like peace and love…
I have never taken part in any exhibitions for today. Probably, in the future I will think about organizing an exhibition beyond the Internet. But certainly I will continue my work.