Sebnem Ugural DNDR artist in residency

Sebnem Ugural DNDR artist in residency

When did you start making pinhole cameras and why?

I started pinhole photography almost 3 years back. Pinhole photographs captures dreamlike circumstances and creates a multiple sensation of time. Taking photos with a simple box is always magical for people including the ones who are into pinhole photography for many years. The most attractive part of it to me is its unpredictability. It also provides so many options for creativity. Once I started to make cameras, I became more curious to try different ones. And the question of “ What if I turn this or that into a camera?” follows me all the time. When you turn different objects into cameras, they all give different results and open up new windows for new experiments.

Pinhole photography, and other types of non-digital photographic processes let us to use our intuitions and hands more. They teach us to be patient through their long exposure durations and printing processes. Also, their limitations increase creativity while searching for the new possible ways and pushing our boundaries.


Are you working on any particular project at the moment? 

I turned a grow tent into a camera obscura and my project is to take photos with it, and develop the photos inside the camera. As I do not use a lens, the exposure time is too long. However, this challenge attracts me.

I created a self-portraits portfolio. I took my self-portraits with a drink can on my bed in my bedroom. I posed more than 20 minutes for each photo.

My pinhole self-portraits are exploration of my self.  The whole process from making my own cameras to developing my own photographs expands my creativity. And taking self-portraits develops this creative process more because it enables me to be the photographer, sitter and spectator.  So, I gain a comprehensive awareness of self and photography.

Taking self-portraits is active and performative because you go beyond being a passive subject by posing. It is a way of deconstructing and reconstructing the self in terms of identity and the relation with the inner self. Once you experience the whole process and see yourself on the pictures, you start questioning your representation easier. For me, creative ways of expressions make easier to reconstruct my self in terms of rebuilding my ideas and feelings about myself. And pinhole photography, at the moment, is the best means for it.


Why did you decide to run workshops on pinhole cameras?

Pinhole photography enthusiasts me very much and I like to share this with people. Especially with children, it is really fun and I learn from them as well. It is not a one-sided thing that I teach and others learn. I share what I have and learn from the participants. Because I work on pinhole photography, I find it useful to run workshops to improve myself. It is also a good way to earn little amount of money from what I really like to do.

In this digitalised era, I believe in that pinhole photography brings a lot to our lives. Those workshops remind us those valuable things that we forget in their daily rush. As I said, it improves our intuitions, reminds us using our hands more and being more patient, also increase creativity. I am happy to be a part of those workshops.


Any future plans?

In 2014, I ran pinhole photography courses for socially disadvantaged children. I worked collaboratively with a charity. This project was funded by BBC Children Inn Need. I ran 3 hour sessions over 6-week for each group. I tailored the sessions according to the participants’ ages and needs. They were second-generation migrants and refugees. Some of them were victim and/or witness of domestic violence; some of them had learning disabilities. After finalizing the workshops successfully, we had an exhibition of the children’s works.

I am willing to do more works with charities in the future.

Besides, as my academic background is based on social sciences, I am thinking to search for the opportunities of doing Phd on fine arts.

I have some projects to create new portfolios and try different alternative photographic techniques.



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