by Madeline Reidy, Photo by B. Gunal
Visual artist and musician Erkin Gören discusses his music, artwork, dreams of nature, and how the Berlin scene changed his perspective on art.
When did you first start making music?
I was in middle school. I was living in a new neighborhood (my parents moved). My father is a guitar player and multi-instrumentalist. He doesn’t do this for work, but we always had a guitar at home. It happened when I was 13. A friend I met in the neighborhood and I started to make music together, and we formed a band together called Kupka, which lasted for about ten years.
What's your process of making music?
In almost everything I do, I try not to make any plans or sketches, so I can keep up the tension and excitement. If I make plans or sketches, then I start to know what I will do, and as soon as I have an idea or something planned about what I’m going to do, it loses its excitement for me. So I start to make a song, I start to record the first take, and that usually stays as the original recording, and I may change it later on, but I like to keep it spontaneous.
Is there a connection between your visual artwork and your music?
Of course I see everything—all the creative arts— as interconnected, in the way that you put some elements together and compose them. This applies to music and the visual stuff I do. I have a variety of forms I use, not consciously, but most of the time unconsciously I come across a new style while I am trying something else. They all come from the heart, but the real contrast between the visual artwork and music I make is that I am an educated painter. I started my education when I was five, and studied with a painter, and then in high school and university. But in music, I have no education. I am completely self-taught, so there is a beautiful contrast that I can experience, in terms of the benefits of education while I am creating, especially in visual stuff, and in music, I am completely free of knowledge, which can me a minus but I see it as a plus as well.
What are your inspirations, musical or otherwise?
My main inspiration has always been nature. As soon as I go there, I am full of creative energy and it inspires me a lot. To be honest, I slowed down in following contemporary music and artists. Not that I have no interest, but something keeps me from following them. Maybe I am afraid of getting inspired too much. You have access to almost everything on the internet right now. Unless you put some control on it, you can drown in a pool of inspiration. My main inspiration is music and, hopefully, love.
How do you spend your free time?
I came to a point in my life over the last year where all the time that I have is free time. I can do whatever I want, and this freedom brought me to a point where I can find jobs that I enjoy doing, and it doesn’t feel like a job. I spend my free time reading, doing whatever I do, living simply.
What are things in life you can’t live without?
Things. I’m not sure if I can say something. You can take everything from me, and I can still go on.
What are your goals for the next year, or the future in general?
I was in Berlin for four years, and then I moved from Berlin to Istanbul this summer to catch up with friends and family. I missed them so much during that time. After that, I'm trying to save money. Even though I don’t support property or having land of one’s own, the current system doesn't support anything else. I plan to buy a small piece of land and start living there with my beloved ones, hopefully, and freely. Most probably without electricity or internet. There will be a transition. I am not going to jump from the city to rural life directly. That's my plan. To go back to rural and produce there. I spent my 20’s and 30’s, between that time period, producing a lot. What I have published is just half of what I produced, and this is already too much for me. It wasn’t like I was puking artworks. I was making each of them with my whole attention, my whole heart, but in the end, I started to feel like if I move to a rural place, if I live a simpler life, I will create less than before. Maybe not the quality, but the intensity of what I will do will change. I am excited to see the effects of living in nature on my artwork.
How has living in Berlin influenced you creatively?
I was at a phase in my life when I kind of slowed my production down, and in Berlin, I became even slower. I produced less. Not nothing, but way less than I did before. I saw so much stuff. My understanding of painting and art as an observer changed from top to bottom. I had academic ideas of how a painting should be done, or how a beautiful form can be shaped, but when I went to a gallery in Berlin, sometimes I would see nothing, or a one second loop video. Something that doesn’t look like an artwork if you are traditionally educated. When I was inside, I was judging the stuff I was seeing, and I looked around and saw people looking at the same thing with their whole attention and interest. When I saw that, I thought to myself, this is possible. That person is looking at the same thing that I am. I am just judging this artwork and not liking it, and this person is able to do that, so why can’t I? I have an idea of how the artwork should have been done, and it doesn't apply to what I see, so I don’t like it. I wanted to remove that curtain in front of my eyes and stop judging it, and try to find something beautiful in it. I lost most of my judgment in Berlin.
Any other city you would like to try living in?
City? I am not interested in cities anymore! But maybe in the future, why not?