Briefly describe the work you do.
I split time between curatorial efforts and my own practice, both of which focus on live or recorded performance for the camera. Most of this also is centered around thinking about how video itself takes on different personas, and performs accordingly. So my performances can operate within some logic, some world that I enter and allow myself to humorously improvise in.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
My upbringing in Turkey and my background working in communication design and advertising was the starting point for my ideas concerning how traditional social and cultural norms are reinforced and reconfigured as images.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
I work mostly from a laptop. Being in the studio almost exclusively means I’m looking at a screen, keeping up with events in Turkey, digging through archives, Skyping, or having hundreds of tabs open at the same time. When it’s time to shoot, I reach out to colleagues and friends, pool resources and usually end up making the work with very limited resources.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
In my work, I try to create challenging experiences for myself in order to open spaces for others to become participants in these challenges by having them directly interact with my body, starting with their gaze. Part of my work is about pushing the limits of my viewers, usually without defining the terms of these limits before I perform. I look for reactions, such as facial expressions, body language and attitude, and try to use these observations as feedback for my process to inform new directions and content for my work.
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
I see everything I do, direct, or indirect, as related to making art. Because I work in improvised, real-time performances, the making of the work and the work itself are often the same thing. 6. How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?First of all, leaving a corporate, competitive working environment allowed me to explore and create all kinds of new things. On top of that, paying attention to events in Turkey as an outsider on the internet made it possible for me to create and inform new perspectives about things I was previously unaware or uncritical of. After I began performing publicly, the understanding of my body that I had gained through my cultural background started to fade away, allowing me to rethink how the norms and bodily restrictions I had rejected were held together in the first place. My practice helped me gain more self-confidence, consciousness and personal language to deliver these concerns. Lately, my interests and commitments are rapidly growing. Recently I’ve been interested in exploring activist strategies in alternative platforms and mediums for performances, including VR and networked environments.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
Because I am often both object and subject of my work, I see the kind of self examinations that we all perform daily as really the beginning of inquiry and influence into what I try to do. My work is directly informed by feminists of many waves, artists, as well as video and art video culture in general, porn sites, fashion magazines, fetish cult networks, nude art groups on Vimeo, Turkish internet memes, advertisements and issues relating to gender such as representations of women in media.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
I had a stint in advertising. But I don’t know if I was pulled in that direction. When I get stressed I like to color in coloring books and express my aggressive creativity on my nails.
Endam Nihan born and raised in Turkey. She currently lives and practice in Upstate NY. She holds a BFA in Visual Communication Design from Sabanci University and an MFA in Art Video from SYracuse University. Recent projects include co-curating Spark Performance Vol. I-IV, a series of performance art events in Syracuse, NY. Her work has previously been exhibited at Body Anxiety (http://bodyanxiety.com/), First Films(UK), Webbiennial 14 (Istanbul), RADAR (Seattle/Vancouver), Rapid Pulse (Chicago), Hallwalls (Buffalo), The Way Out (NYC), Park Multimedia (Porto), Thirteen Video Art Festival (Stockholm), LoBe (Berlin).