Throughout my practice, I have been drawn to the idea of absence. My earliest projects were clearly influenced by the ‘decisive moment’ philosophy of street photography, but I had already developed a fascination with the traces of the urban landscape that reflect a human presence, rather than the presence itself. Photographs of the urban landscape, of the social, but in absentia. More recent projects have engaged with this concept from different angles. These approaches can be demarcated by different subjectivities, in that they attempt, through different conceptual frameworks, to encompass an individual’s perspective. ‘Pedestrian’, for example, foregrounds these preoccupations by attempting to convey the perspective of a city dweller searching for a form of human contact. Photographed traces suggest this contact is possible, but also emphasize the distance between presence and absence. In ‘Barber’, the subjectivity is gendered. Here, the public space of men’s toilets is explored through evidences juxtaposed with images that connote a very particular masculine identity. This suggests a presence in this absent, public space.
My subjects can be classified as either still lives or scenes, especially in reference to the established conventions of street photography, for which motion and time are fundamental. Beyond the subjects themselves, I am interested in how a clearly subjective approach interferes with the notions of objectivity such material might engender. My work also engages with discourses of “aftermath” or “late” photography, but through the study of the everyday and its melancholy poetry. Above all, I am keen to find the intersections between photography as a medium-specific form of communication and photography as the Artist’s instrument, a vehicle for the conceptual. I nurture notions of the photograph as an accessible and democratic medium, but often want to push up against its barriers. I believe this to be a fruitful conflict.
My images have been described as abstract and minimalist, mysterious and cinematic. Although these descriptions hold true, my work seeks to explore the tensions between these terms. The images are abstract in that they do not seek to describe or depict a tangible reality, but they do not seek to pictorialise either. I am drawn to the graphic in photography, especially through the work of Japanese photographers such as Daido Moriyama or Shomei Tomatsu, as well the great Italian photographer Mario Giacomelli. My images are paradoxical in that they use strong compositions to foreground the contradiction between the beauty of an image and the banality of its subject . The opposition between the abstract and the concrete can thus create mystery. Constructed with this in mind, the images both show and hide, inviting viewers to decode a series of fragments or details without necessarily knowing why, crime scenes where no crime has been committed.
The images are minimalist because information is absent. This imbues the details that are present with significance. The mundane signs of the everyday thus become the language of the images, flawed in its communication but expressive nonetheless. Read in series, the work takes on the mood of a film, during which the viewer engages with image sequences or montages secure in the knowledge that a meaning will present itself. Hopefully it does, but as a question rather than a resolution.
KERIM AYTAC was born in Istanbul in 1979, and grew up in London whilst studying in a French school. Film was an obsession of his from an early age, and was the subject of his degree studies. Aytac soon found that photography began to offer more creative outlets, which led him to pursue an MA in Photography at Goldsmiths University. Since then he has sought to develop and explore his practice whilst also teaching Film and Media Studies. Aytac has exhibited internationally and lives and works in London.