Boğaziçi'nde "Çağdaş Sanat" Röportaj Dizisi, 2010

Tomur Atagök (İstanbul, 1939)

Muhammed Kürşad Şahin, Boğaziçi Üniversitesi,   

Tomur Atagök is one of the founders of the graduate program on museums. She is firm believer in museum’s function in the society in the sense that is integrates the society into art. She is involved in gender issues, environmental problems and political matters. That is why, the problematization of social and economic inequalities are emphasized in her works. She gives importance to the coexistence of art and life together. Other than pictures, sculpture and cinema are the art spheres which influenced her pieces. As a follower of Goya, Atagök sees the art as a reflection of the world we live in. She is against the dualistic diversification of art between modern and post-modern; rather, she approaches art as efforts of the artist to communicate with the viewers. Thus, she believes that it is the interactiveness of art which turns artistic piece into a “holy” work. Although she underlines the importance of galleries and exhibitions for the space that they provide to the artist. She argues that those places are constituted on a financial basis while the museums are innocent in that sense to present the past to the present.
I made an interview with her in İki Arada- Bir Derede art exhibition in Sumerbank Building in Karaköy, which was a collection of many artist’s work by her. I have tried to understand her art with her own words and gotten some pictures of her with the works in exhibition.

Muhammed Kürşad Şahin: Is the talent of an artist given by birth or is it attainable?
Tomur Atagök: I realized it when I was a kid. There was some extraordinary instinct that was charming me. It is a huge instinct that could surface even in a child’s own sensitivity. It is a passion. Many artists has grown up with the eager to attain that passion. Although curiosity, tendency and education merge artist and art, there should be something deep in your soul.

Muhammed Kürşad Şahin: What is the message of your art pieces for yourself ?
Tomur Atagök: Artistic work is a bridge between artist and viewer. That bridge is reproduced again by the new viewer. It is reborn each time. Hence, artistic work is in its own eternity ,For example, I use metal. I want viewers to see the silhouette of ground and themselves on my pieces. Then, my work becomes a new one through the viewers perception. Art is a part of life. It should become integrated with the viewers life. It should create a new experience and memory.

Muhammed Kürşad Şahin: Kate Millet argues that “the division of labour between men and women continues eventhoug capitalism allows women to work in business life. Women is canalized to work in social sciences and art.” Do you agree with this?
Tomur Atagök: The discrimination has begun by the industrialization of world at the beginning of 19 century. They were working together in their field before industrialization. It is alive but goes in positive way. Ther is still discrimination, but we can call this “ discriminative awareness.” I think this is a positive motivation.
Muhammed Kürşad Şahin: Is it patriarchal for the female body to be depicted by male artists?

Tomur Atagök: Never. Women have always been inspiration fairies for art. This is natural. Recently, the feminist art’s approach already emphasizes woman as a subject in the art. Women get closer to where she deserves.
Muhammed Kürşad Şahin: You are one of the founders of museum undergraduate program in Yıldız Teknik Universitesi.

Tomur Atagök: I have seen the Moma (Museum of Modern Art in New York) when I was in Robert College. The stained glasses of Chagall were done for a jewish temple. I was under the spell of art. I felt the power of art’s magic. Museums give people chance to embrace art . Even if a man have been there for only one time, it is impossible not tobe influenced. Something is placed to his body, soul by the atmosphere of museum. That’s why, the society should be introduced with museums. So we have a programme in our university to train people to be aware of the significance of museums.

Muhammed Kürşad Şahin: What do you think about contemporary art ? Are the artists named as an artist only if they have an avant-gard dynamic ?
Tomur Atagök: Eeehh… I don’t want to say his name but there is a conservative writer who says art is divided into three periods of traditional, classic and contemporary art. I don’t agree completely with this classification. For instance, naturemorte pieces in the Netherlands have been depicted in the past and they were liked a lot. Some of these artists become unique. It is very important to be unique. It is the way of being artist that to show people the unseen things. There is always an interaction in social spaces. That pushes you to follow artists that you feel their work a lot. That is the point where the artist should become unique.