Architecture has always been associated with craftsmanship. As for art, we can say that they are like companions with each other. Perhaps this is the reason why the architect can easily find himself in different disciplines. Because, when designing the space, the architect compulsorily concerns himself with different details and deeply deals with the material itself. When necessary, he can even work on a tiny little detail for days with a craftsman. In this context, the top of architect’s desk is always full with different objects. These preoccupations sometimes lead to the emergence of new formations. For example, when he is assigned for designing an annex to a historic building, the architect goes to take photographs to document the existing condition of the space and these photographs can later give way to a new exhibition. We have always witnessed such surprising appearances of architectural-artistic associations. We have recently seen this kind of an association at the latest CI Contemporary Art Fair. Architect Görkem Volkan appeared at the Merkür Gallery with a big black sculpture named ‘Bled’. With the occasion of this sculpture, we made an interview with Görkem Volkan, who has been carrying on her works in the fields of architecture and interior design both in Turkey and abroad since 2006 and who is renowned for her successful projects consisting of hotels, residences, shopping centers, offices, recreational and commercial spaces…
Architecture and art are like two companions walking arm in arm. Even though they change their paths at times, they often intersect at last. Of course, the definition of art can also include craftsmanship. Your last work might be a good example of this definition. You are an architect who also makes sculptures. Can we underline this association for your sculpture exhibited at the CI Contemporary Art Fair?
Both in my own architectural practices and my studies in plastic arts, I give importance to learning the construction techniques that enable the construction of a design in a way that is independent of scale. Material and construction techniques are not the only means that make a design or a work of art three-dimensional, but they represent the most essential tools of expression. I can say that having a full command of these tools enriches the representation of a work. Of course, more flexible and light techniques of materials and constructions that keep getting improved based upon the developing technology, enable works to have similar characteristics. Digital installations in particular, create an interactive connection with the audience. This is a manner of connection that I am highly acquainted with.
Could you please tell us a little about your last sculpture ‘BLE D’? How did it come about?
Af ter my first big sculpture ‘Mir’, I continued to work on various sculpture sketches during the period I was conducting researches on specific remnant s dating back to Bronze Age. My sculpture ‘BLED’ came to light within this hiatus. ‘BLED- Shimmering Darkness’ represents a trace of structural remnants of this period. As a contrast, I used acrylic for it is a reflective, mirrorbright and space-black material which is completely up-to-date. Of course I should mention the support of Sabiha Kur tulmuş and her gallery “Merkür Gallery” that both stood at the core of the idea and the process itself. Her vision in innovative and contemporary works played a significant role that accelerated and matured the process of BLED.
Material knowledge of an architect is usually good. How did you select the materials during the process of sculpting? You are right, it was a great advantage for me. Various manuals and models made with 3D printers were present to sharpen the variable form of BLED, which allowed it to be perceived differently from different angles. I think it is a good idea to open a new exhibition with these models (laughs). Since my first sketch, it has been a primary decision for me to opt for a material that is as shiny/sparkly, reflective and black as possible. A follower made a very impressive expression for BLED: “Since the light that once appeared does not have any more recurrence, it is as if the form is still in an unhardened state of liquidity”. This was the exact form that I wanted to create; a form that moves towards its own determined state. As you know, the motto of 20th century Modern Architecture was “Form Follows Function”. Form used to serve as a secondary wall that is shaped upon the solid functionality which was more liquid than the function. Functions pertaining to the structure were so solid that the wall covering this machine was also covering this rigidity, so it basically had the same rigidity. Along with developments/transformations of technology and social rules, functions have been changed into a state that allows more flexible transitions. In short, the connection we worked up with the structure – work have been stretched and softened up. Together with this new type of relationship; permeable, variable and transparent openings and materials have started to get used. The variable and ongoing form I just mentioned for BLED is actually an expression of this whole advancement.
This is not your first sculpture work. Along with your sculpture named ‘Mir’ you have just mentioned, we have discovered a new side of you. Can you also tell the story behind ‘Mir’? Where is the sculpture right now?
For us designers and architects, every contemporary piece of work forms an extensive and distilled state of informations and experiences pertaining to previous times . For me; these “previous times” proceed in cycles far from linearity. In brief, the order of ‘previous’ and ‘latter’ may not match the creation period of the work. In this sense, primary dates of sculptures point out an indefinite situation. In this context, ‘Mir’, which stands for the first sculpture that came to be realized, continues to be displayed in the lobby of Nidakule Göztepe building which I also implemented the interior architecture project of the space. During the project presentation, we used Mir’s model for the visuals. Along with the curiosity and appreciation of directors, Mir took its place inside the building and opened the doors of a totally different world for me. I am still very grateful to them.
Your architectural approach often includes craftsmanship. We would be more than grateful if you could talk about the path you follow in Constructing may not be the only and unchangeable way to perform architecture or artistic works.
Both act ions can be car r ied out by staying within the concept / idea basis. This requires a whole other craf t smanship in an intel lectual sense. You do not have to be up-to-date here. I think the freedom of being intel lectual is ver y at t ract ive, but as for real izing the version of work that is feasable and capable of communicat ing with people through the five senses, only then the methods of const ruct ion step in. I am as interested in material and construction techniques –so to say the engineering side- as the aspect of aesthetics. As I mentioned before, the most impor tant medium for transferring the expression of the work is the tool … This applies to an architectural project and also to the work of ar t … Showing resistance to time both with the form and the material is a requirement for sustainability. I can say that we are quite experienced in this mat ter.
Within the context of the previous question, what kind of an architectural practice has brought you to this level? When designing a space, a sculpture that can be exhibited suddenly appears. However they both require very different beginnings. Do you think that it is best to manage both or seperate them?
My interest in plastic arts began way before my architectural education. They did not generate one another but instead they nourished each other. Therefore the separation of the two is difficult in this sense and I am not sure whether it is necessary. The fact that Mir is involved in a project of mine shows desire and it is indeed an important step but in fact, Mir was designed in New York 7 years ago. Therefore, I would very much like to have my sculptures taken part in projects that I have not carried out.
Can we talk a little bit about your future projects?
Will we see any more sculptures? BLED’s series of wall reliefs continues. All of the production will be completed in March, and all the “BLED Variations” will be collected in an exhibition. Apart from that, I am currently working for a mutual idea – a group exhibition.
Thank you for all the information you have shared with us.
Thank you very much.