“Weaving might even be ‘terminus a quo’ of civilization”

“Weaving might even be ‘terminus a quo’ of civilization”

We are joined by Prof. Gülçin Aksoy (Özdemir), a distinguished member of the faculty at Mimar Sinan University, Faculty of Fine Arts, Painting Department, sitting at the guest seat of this issue. She is also in charge of the Carpet Workshop there. Talking about her studies regarding the blend of weaving and painting, Aksoy keeps the door to the carpet workshop wide open for the sole purpose of mutually learning something with everyone who has a deeper attachment to the place, whether they are a student or not. Here is our pleasant conversation for you to enjoy with Professor Gülçin Aksoy, who likes to bring together different concepts as she claims, “I can do both weaving and videos”…

What is carpet and weaving to you?

Actually, I’m more interested in the act of weaving and being woven. Of course, what I produce by weaving is attached to carpet. Weaving is as old as human history; civilization, you know, starts with writing.  I presume the origin of it can be the commencement of weaving. Just kidding, but the vitality of weaving, the idea that patterns and relationships are everywhere becomes way more noticeable when one dabbles in weaving. You can make an artistic production with yourself… Carpet and weaving mean life, enabling me to be close to all kinds of living and non-living things, even technology.

I am a person who studied painting and produced many paintings. On the other hand, the area where I created myself is called contemporary art or what is called ‘the art of present time’. To my belief, I can work with different media. I can weave, make videos or drawings. We can do an action of artistic value with my students. Indeed, I mingle with language on the conceptual background of the subject. For instance, instead of creating an exact simulation of a tree, I can produce a tree-like being out of manufactured material or digital media.

Please tell us a bit about the Carpet Workshop at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University!

I have been working at the carpet workshop since the early 90s. I have also taken over the head role of the Painting Department at the same institution. Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Carpet Workshop was established by Zekai Ormancı in 1976. I had had the chance to work with him until he passed away. Zekai Ormancı would consider it appropriate to name the ‘wall carpets’ as ‘painting carpets’, normally known as ‘tapestry’. I presume he named it so as the painting was reproduced by weaving. Of course, it’s not just that.

Products we call tapestry is a very promising area in terms of expression, which both animates the walls and the content of a depicted scene, thanks to images and scenes that connect the past and the present. In the meantime, it serves as a functional separator for protecting interiors from cold. Lastly, it is a form of production that is portable and easily placed in another place.

Today, Carpet Workshop is a workshop that welcomes production in the field of contemporary art as well as encapsulating traditional way of production. I believe being open is a critically important approach. I believe that despite all challenges, the door should be open, so should mindsets. It is very important to practise and learn together with my students. This point of view of mine also reverberates on my students. After all, there are a lot of prominent, contemporary artists whose path intersect with the carpet workshop and I am proud to work with them.

So, how do you guide your students?

To be honest, I learn and produce with my students. What I do most is only to widen as much space as possible for them. I value preferring to share our minds, ideas and productions.  I share my experiences and what I’ve learned so far, so to speak. Our workshop is a shared working area where ideas are generated and where individuality is still of utmost important. Since the carpet workshop is a bit separate area, mostly, students who want to be there, who are interested show up. That’s why, fruitful encounters and productions emerge.

How about a project you have conducted there?  Would you comment a bit about one?

Let me talk to you about a project that I started on our big workbench and finalized in 2018. Together with the participant students did we make a kind of graffiti weaving one might call, ‘Wall Carpet Graffiti’. It was a carpet project that each student wrote a sentence or a word they wished by weaving. Participants both reflected their own fields on it and also got attached to the big picture. The final piece, a 5-meter carpet, was later exhibited at the ‘Academiae Youth Art Biennale’ (Bolzano / Italy), where I was honored as an art teacher. Sadly, it was stolen from the museum during the exhibition and was not found.  We thought that that common mindset must have disturbed someone, somehow. Of course it was upsetting. The museum officials compensated the loss, however and I had the replica of the original carpet woven again. This is truly one of the unforgettable events in the history of the Carpet Workshop.

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