In Aykan Safoğlu’s two-channel video project, Portraits (2014), the notion of portrait photography is extended into a process of participation. Portraiture remains an important part of art history, as the desire to capture the essence of a person remains deeply rooted in our culture. Portraits allows us to venture into a state of intimacy between the artist and a group of participants – lovers, acquaintances, colleagues and companions – who were invited to face the camera, eyes closed, and begin to draw Safoğlu. Devoid of sight, tactile impressions are used to acquire the intricate details of the face. Alluding to the dark room conventions, the participants remain engaged in conversation and share a level of affinity, raising questions about conflicting realities, casual acquaintances and the inherent conventions in participatory art. The dark room not only allows for an intimate conversation, but also a reflection on the tenderness of our interactions and the connections we share with our community.
In Safoğlu’s practice community, gender and ethnicity remain central themes. By using a participatory framework he intervenes in our social fabrics, and conflates our perceptions of the binaries that exist in today’s culture.
Nick Pinkerton, "Spitting Image", Artforum Online, 1 May 2014
Andrew Robertson, "Off-White Tulips", Eye For Film, 14 February 2014