Gülce Tulçalı is a London-based visual artist whose practice includes moving image, photography, and performance. She symbolically visualizes women-authority relationships from a citizen-government point of view with an emphasis on technologies and nature. She uses a variety of methods from digital processes to darkroom prints. She writes and edits her own films, recent shows including with fists, it kicks, it bites at Webber Gallery, and Hang Ten at ArtLacuna.
You recently moved to London with an economics background from Izmir (Turkey), how did you transition your interest and profession to becoming an artist?
I did enjoy learning business studies and mostly economics but as I was studying it became harder and harder to imagine myself working in the options that degree would offer. There has always been an instinctual feeling of “being on the wrong path”. University years have provided some magical, some painful discoveries of the self & life for me like everyone else and I often did not know what to do with them. I remember getting out of the lessons to take photos. It was not because I thought I was an artist, it was more because I was in need of expressing myself in some way in the middle of the wonders/despair brought by understanding how life works at that age, then I thought it was a stage. I found myself watching movies often, and a deeply hidden desire to create these images of my version one day. I wanted to be close to the essence of life as I was living, I did not know then that it would be partially possible with being an artist and leading a creative life. I went to a filmmaking academy in New York for a month and with that short film, I got accepted to RCA. Until London, I have not really declared myself as an artist so yes moving to London made an artist out of me. It kind of had to happen because I was starting a fine arts master with a business degree and everyone else was already with an art practice.
You work between moving image, photography, and/or installations. How do all these mediums feed into your practice?
The variety of media is the gap to breathe for me because often the work calls for the medium it wants to be in. I just try to generate a set of skills that could possibly succeed in them when the time comes. Recently I have realized the photographs I take serve as a storyboarding/planning phase of the movies I shoot and it took me a while but it made me very happy to finally discover this pattern. I visualize a moving image in my mind, and because the way I shoot is experimental, taking the photographs of the sequence bridges the way from inspiration to reality a step closer. I have only done one installation in public yet and it was accompanied by a piece of writing but would like to do more if the context is right. I believe because I am still forming/learning myself as an artist, I am trying to enjoy what other mediums would have to offer for my practice without fear. Does not work all the time but I am determined to keep my options open as the context of the work defines that for me with moving image being a constant.
How do you play with representation and stereotypes of women in your body of work?
It is such a tricky subject: representation of women, and the obsession with getting it right for everyone has made me pause for a long time in my art practice. After the first wave of creations on the subject, what I created was so charged that it was hard to imagine a new way. My approach towards my own work had to change and I decided to accept that I am never going to get it right and the more authentic it can be, it will be a win. I try to keep things abstract to run from determinations, one way of dealing with stereotypes is to leave the image empty, a segment absent like negative space in the darkroom but I believe it is time to go deeper and more structured and quit assuming the issues I am dealing with are so obvious because they do not seem to be.
Who has been a great influence in your life or practice as an artist?
I believe not one, but many inspired me and continue to do so, Haroun Farucki, Hito Steyerl, Aldous Huxley, Leonara Cannington, Man Ray, Maya Deren, Agnes Varda, Barbara Kruger…..Maggie Nelson, Joan Didion, my grandfather, my friends, my lovers, Emel Ernalbant, Ece Temelkuran…, Laia Abril, Paola Estrella, so so many artists, creatives, strangers…
You write, shoot and edit your own short movies, can you talk a little bit about this process and whether it starts with research or a simple idea?
The process is often a series of images living in my head and I ask my mind if this is possible to actualize. Often it is not, but the will to create is still there. So what I do is, I try to approach the same subject with another medium or another image I can actually produce. Sometimes this is still not possible because of technicalities, space, or budget. So I often end up with a will to shoot, a camera, and surroundings that look nothing like what I imagine it to be. In that case, either I go on to shoot whatever I have available to me with the eyes concentrating on the concept in my head or I wait for life, events, experiences, and places to happen and I try to be ready with my camera when the set is finally something I can work with. This is how I shoot my moving image and I might have to explore other ways soon because it is a bit slow and I still have a lot I want to shoot. From a research & image perspective, I try to keep myself active with the research, ongoing, trying to find connections from unexpected places as well, like ordinary life, and wait for the image to match the reference points I would like to explore further, previously thought.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on an experimental short film, shot on a reverse film Super 8 camera, with the subject of invisibility and identity in the city. With dystopian qualities of cities being heightened with the pandemic, and with us being more watched than ever, I am trying to come up with a character that is invisible to the eyes of the authorities, in this case, technology. It will be completed shortly and ready to view early this year…