3×3 interview: Lal Batman

Biography

Lal Batman was born in 2001, in Bursa, Turkey.

Her interest in art was expressed at a young age so she started receiving training in that field quite early. She finished one of the most renowned fine arts high schools in Turkey and was trained by a number of painters and art professionals. She started professionally doing art quite young, and her production is characterized by a unique multi-disciplinary approach. She actively participates in symposiums, trainings and exhibitions abroad. Her first solo exhibition was organized when she was 17, in a 250-year-old building in Galata, Istanbul (2019). She is the winner of the award given by the Yeditepe University fine arts department. Her interest in art management led her to initiate a global art platform called Dott Project (2020), based on her existing projects. She is closely collaborating with various initiatives, art professionals and institutions, establishing many projects, and organizing and holding exhibitions. She also had a stint as a director at the Artist gallery, one of the oldest contemporary art galleries in Turkey (2020). During this time she works closely with acclaimed contemporary artists, and is involved in many curating activates, which helped her gain significant knowledge and experience in the fields of art history, and gallery and art management. Through her multi-disciplinary expression she explores different combinations of various mediums, and apart from a two-dimensional approach, she is focused on establishing a unique interdisciplinary language—an amalgam of plastic and digital mediums. She is an artist whose practice places an equal emphasis on the figurative language and the idea underlying compositions she constructs in her works, thus providing the audience with different experiences and successfully establishing the dialogue between the audience and her artwork.

Why Belgrade? What about Belgrade inspires you to work and exhibit?

I visited Belgrade during the pandemic. At some point, having spent quite some time in my country, I felt the urge to travel and experience other cultures, which is something I am used to. Then I thought of Belgrade. I had never visited it before, but the moment I arrived there, I felt some very positive energy about this place. I had a project in my head, which was very important to me and with rather specific dynamics, and I was looking for a suitable place to carry it out. Then something told me I should do it in Belgrade. I was drawn by the socialist architecture, the dynamics and spirit of the city. The first night I arrived in Belgrade, Ksenija Samardžija invited me to a film premiere that took place at the Balkan Cinema. It was evening and a bit chilly for spring…

I decided to take a walk to the Balkan Cinema. When I saw the building, I was impressed at first glance and also very excited to see what it was like inside. Once inside, I felt like I could feel the texture of the history and experiences accumulated since the nineteenth century. It was very impressive indeed. Various ideas started running through my mind immediately, and my excitement only grew as I was thinking about the dialogue I could establish between with the place and my artwork.

How does the space of the Cinema Balkan resonate with you? What did you find fascinating about it and what can we expect from you here?

I had researched the history of the building before I actually saw it. Its journey made me very curious, and I was wondering what was going on with the Balkan cinema today. When I finally visited the place, I felt like I could literally feel the textures and experiences of the building itself. And, together with the facts I had already known, it was even more impressive. For me, it is very pleasant to witness the journey that the Balkan Cinema has made from its beginnings into the future. The building itself, its whole journey, the values and the past—all of this, strongly resonated with me.

What I plan to do is carry out a special project that has been evolving in my mind for a long time. The idea is to bring the audience together, not only in the field of plastic arts, but also in the intertwined form of a variety of disciplines. Since my childhood, I have always been into musicals, theater and dance. This building was first used as a cinema, so I knew it couldn’t be a coincidence. I am very excited about the performance and the exhibition that I will be setting up here.

 

You are a very young and active multidisciplinary artist with an impressive professional experience. What can you tell us about the Istanbul art scene at this moment—how would you describe it?

The market in Istanbul has seen a rather positive development recently. It is possible to see various projects in the city, especially during the winter months. The period of art fairs and the Biennial is always quite lively. In general, the city’s exhibition calendar is rather busy and replete with projects realized through the cooperation of galleries, museums or initiatives, independent collectives, foundations or corporate companies. The pandemic brought about some hiatuses and setbacks, but as an artist, I believe that everyone who creates gained a lot in this process. Pandemic gave us the time to return to ourselves, but also to focus on whatever we are passionate about. It was a breaking point for all of us, and I can say I have witnessed many good developments on the Turkish contemporary art scene, and I still see them.

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