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A Conversation with Mimiko Türkkan

episode 29
Dec 3 2021

Calling herself a ‘visual narrator’, ‘intimate outsider’, and ‘subjective documentarist’, Mimiko Türkkan comes on the show to talk about her visual video project on water, in relation to fear, her creative process and social identity.

About our guest

Mimiko Türkkan creates artwork such as photography series, artist’s books and videos. Her work focuses on gender roles and socially constructed identities through a subjective documentary approach. It seeks to shed light on ‘the deepest drives, desires and fears of the human being.’ It investigates the questions of ‘gender stereotypes, prejudgements, social roles, power relations, and how these are manipulated. The human body also has an important place, and traveling is a major component in her process.

Her education background stems from the Istanbul Bilgi University, Photography and Video department, the University of the Arts in London, and Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design.


Mimiko Türkkan’s website


“The soil is like fertility and the fertility refers to female identity”

Innergy / Watery Incanta-ons
2021 3-channel 4K video, sound, 12’23 3
Ed. + 1 A.P.
This project was supported by SAHA within the scope of Covid-19 Sustainability Fund 

Innergy / Watery Incanta-ons
2021 3-channel 4K video, sound, 12’23 3
Ed. + 1 A.P.
This project was supported by SAHA within the scope of Covid-19 Sustainability Fund

“The real thing is under the surface”

Bill Viola

Innergy / Watery Incanta-ons
2021 3-channel 4K video, sound, 12’23 3
Ed. + 1 A.P.
This project was supported by SAHA within the scope of Covid-19 Sustainability Fund

“In general, there is a pressure on how the body should look or how the body should perform”

Pay Here, 2010
Photography series (C-prints) & artist's books
Editions of 5

Pay Here, 2010
Photography series (C-prints) & artist's books
Editions of 5

“If you don't put the right intention, nothing happens the way you'd like it to happen”

Full Contact, 2011
Photography series (Archival Fine Art Prints)
Editions of 5

Recording the episode at the gallery Analix Forever Photo Credit : Nikias Imhoof
photo credit: Mali Selisik

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Our unique guest in this episode is Turkish artist Mimiko Türkkan. She creates artwork such as photography series, books and videos with a focus on gender roles and socially constructed identities.

She shares with us her artistic process in coming up with ideas, forming a narrative and going through a project. We focus particularly on her most recent creative endeavour, resulting in “Energy Watery Incantations” showing now in the Galerie Analix Forever in Geneva, to which we get to listen to an excerpt.

She investigates her fears, in relation to ‘the flow’, her creative process and her relation to the world. With traveling and physical activity playing a major role in her artistic process, she gives us a glimpse into the making of “Energy Watery Incantations.” She also gives her piece about being a woman in the arts and gender equality in Turkey.

We also welcome Barbara Polla, owner of the Galerie Analix Forever, adding to the subject of the show ‘Water Paintings’, having had the opportunity to follow Mimiko throughout her creation.

Conversation Highlights:

  • Mimiko’s artistic process where traveling and physical activity have an important place

  • “Energy Watery Incantations”, her relation with fear and the flow 

  • Her thoughts on female identity, gender equality and being a woman in the arts in Turkey

Mimiko’s artistic process, travelling, and physical activity

Mimiko first tells us that her interests in visual arts lie from the exploration of ‘[her] main theme: socially constructed gender roles with a focus on the female identity. Because that would be how [she] would define [her]self.”

Traveling and physical activity are an embedded part of her artistic and creative process in the way that they have a heavy influence on her ideas. She gives us an example from one of her first projects  that came from training in Thai Boxing. This led to an idea in ‘doing a photography project about the sexual services industry with a focus on the western customer’ including a trip to Thailand. Along with intense training, the project evolved to be something else.

But her current project, in the works for three years, focuses on water, which itself finds its inspiration while she was learning how to surf and introspecting on the fears that surfaced while doing so. This has led her to travel in many countries, resulting in footage of water in Lake Baikal, Bali, Geneva, Venice and Istanbul among others.

She tells us about her process which begins with a narrative in mind that she then explores by ‘letting it flow’. She produces with the flow, making footage and it’s only after that she thinks about the actual narrative it is to become.

“Energy Watery Incantations”, her relation with fear and the flow

From an excerpt: “...Thinking with water. Flowing with ancient data. Breath swelling with the undulations. Heart pulsating with the waves. Mind resonating with the tides…”

Mimiko shares with us the tangled nature of creating the ‘energy watery incantations’ visual piece which takes its roots in her experience while learning how to surf. More than the experience itself, but the fear that rose unexpectedly.

She analyzes the type of fear she faced when surfing, as she kept staying ‘stuck’ in fear whenever she’d be about to stand on the board to ride a wave. She finds similarities in her work process, in her way of ‘pulling back’ in her work as she did when surfing.

Instead of shoving it away, Mimiko decides to pursue and face this fear and include it in her art. This project is the fruit of this fear, and three years of creation, self exploration and the exploration of waters of the world.

She also talks about the idea of fear relating to the body: our perception of it, it’s performance, in relation to physical activity or aging. She shares with us her intimate experience in making the footage, the magic of Lake Baikal in South Libera, which is considered sacred.

She lays out how the project ends with what she calls ‘the drowning scene’, which is in fact ‘not about drowning’ as she sees it now. She explains that it means that ‘following the flow doesn’t really mean there’s going to be the best conditions ever.’

Barbara Polla, curator, feminist author and owner of the Galerie Analix Forever, followed the work of Mimiko on this particular project and shares her own piece of Mimiko’s journey in the making of this:

“This is a very important video for Mimiko,” she says. “Not only because it took so long to do it. But it took so long because it was a very difficult subject. She actually tried to find out about her own consciousness of the world through the water. And it started with a lot of fear about the water. And then she decided to explore it.”

Barbara briefly describes the making of and tells us what she told her after being presented with the final version:

“I looked at it and listened to it. And I just said. This is it. This is it, Mimiko. You found out how your own consciousness integrates into the water and through water into the world.”

Her thoughts on female identity, gender equality and being a woman in the arts in Turkey

Scattered throughout the episode, we of course tackle the question of female identity. Mimiko first makes an analogy between how the climate crisis is discussed in mainstream media and female identity, commenting on its odd similarity in how we talk about fairytales: the princess’ (feminine) distress.

She remarks how we stamp feminine words and pronouns to things relating to the climate crisis and the world: mother earth, mother ocean, and the fertility of the soil. She feels there’s something wrong or strange with the victimization of women despite the very real crimes committed against them. She states that we should not only see ourselves as just victims.

She tells us about what it’s like being a woman in Turkey and the impression of growing up in this very clearly patriarchal society. She also observes a change in gender equality within the family in Turkey, particularly looking at the parent couple, even in conservative families. She says young people may not be completely aware of women’s rights history and its implication but that they do indeed notice a transformation in the division of parenthood roles.

She ends with a beautiful note on the particularity of this new generation in Turkey: ‘a lot more support between women.’

“And I’d say this is in the context of the arts entourage as well,” she says, “So this makes me really happy. And I think we need a lot more of that, in all areas in life.”

If all these topics speak to you and you need a power boost of inspiration, tune into this episode, or check the transcript you can find here ︎︎︎ [transcript]


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