Seamonster is the story of a single night made up of multiple intertwined nights. It is a disjointed narrative that is coherent enough to offer a framework, a semblance of an account. The times and places that Irem Sozen chooses to assemble form into a mass, an imprecise constellation. Each image is sufficiently “open” and unwritten for the eye and brain to respond to certain basic injunctions: Who? What? Where? Her images thus begin to draw from elsewhere, from areas of the imagination. A pomegranate resembling a fish-moon, the surface of the sea trembling as something passes by, an island or not an island-the scopic drive is at work.
In choosing to photograph at night, Irem Sozen risks capturing something invisible, or even worse something that does not exist. She poaches her images. Seamonster, or how to let instinct and imagination recapture their rights, how to not wait for the image, how to also use hearing and sense of smell to direct the gaze. Simple and precious like a childhood memory, this reconstructed series is a discreet elegy to the freedom and uncanniness of the sea at night, a place of darkness, silence, and faint noises, of secret movements and a slightly disconcerting sensuality. This series, made on the go, differs in certain respects from the artist’s other works, which often involve portraits and genealogy. It emphasizes a certain instability, the blind spots within an image. Irem Sozen cultivates an art of bursting forth, or escape and heterotopy.
Her approach to photography has tangible connections to film. She uses its techniques and effects to construct an action and a duration. Her images which are shot on a 35mm film roll, are grasped as a film with unchangeable sequences. Viewing and editing reveal certain things, a hedgehog for instance. Sozen succeeds in suggesting different functions for different viewers by freeing herself from the moment the shot is taken –from any chronology or context-and by distancing her intimate memory and range of emotions, which are nonetheless at the heart of her images. Photography becomes first and foremost a surface of projection, an object of interpretation. It no longer bears the imprint of the unequivocal. Shattering all timeliness and points of reference helps imagine other units of place and time, thereby “fictionalizing” the subject. Irem Sozen produces collections of images and visual essays, with her Seamonster offering the persistence of a dream and the fragility of doubt.
*Text written originally in French, by Geraldine Bloch, Camera, quarterly magazine published by Camera Publications, issue:21-22, Paris, 2018.