When Silva Bingaz picks up a camera her facial expression immediately changes. Passion and curiosity fill her eyes as she gazes at the subject she is about to photograph,
Silva Bingaz, born to an Armenian family in the Malatya region of Turkey, is a well-known photographer in Istanbul. When talking to her, I got the distinct impression that she doesn’t place much importance on the nationality of a person and that she’s grown tired of all the talk regarding Armenian-Turkish relations.
S.B. – I build my own internal world in whatever country I find myself in. My work is a product of time and place. I love to depict people in a synthesis with a given time and place. This is the reason why cities attract me. Each city possesses its unique mystic, breath and spirit, and these invigorate an artist.
How do you choose your heroes?
I find human contact to be more important than taking photos. When I was shooting a series in Japan, I took a CD with me that included the photos I had already taken. I got to meet people. I would hand them the CD and tell them that I was a photographer and that I wanted to shoot them. That’s the exact moment that is important; when you create a photo based on a certain contact with a person. Talking isn’t as important as relating to people – contact via gestures and gazes. I am always looking for the essential traits of humanity and depict them in my photos. There is nothing unusual in this since we are all alike. The heroes of my photos aren’t only people. Anything can serve as an opportunity to photograph – fish, tress, cliffs, etc. What’s necessary for me is the surrounding world in which I see my internal reflection. For me, it is the moment that is of interest in photography.
Is it possible to say that you are also looking for certain human natures?
No, I am not looking for anything in particular since the photo is my creation. That reality is my reality and perhaps it has no connection with the hero. Naturally, people and cities can help, but only to make you feel your reality that much stronger. People are very alike and only the incidents are different.
Is this the reason why you like to disrobe your subjects?
Right, I like to undress my subjects a bit. It lends an air of simplicity to the situation. Not completely, but certain parts of the body are nice when they are naked.
You are also known as one of the better dentists. Is there a link between photography and dentistry?
It’s the same whether you’re a doctor, dentist or photographer. You come into contact with people in all three jobs. What’s primary for me is understanding people, whether as a dentist or photographer. I must tell you that now I have left dentistry to completely pursue my photography. If there were two Silva, which I dream of, one would engage in dentistry and the other with photography. I just don’t have the time to juggle both at the same time.
Could you please tell me a little about the themes you see in your new works?
Istanbul, where I live, now serves as the source of my inspiration. Of course, I photographed the city before, but now I want to take a step back and shoot it. When the city is yours, you note everything no matter how big. I have now decided to tour Istanbul and observe it. I know it will be self-repetition because I usually repeat myself.
Don’t you believe that the rejection of everything is also repetition?
Yes, we try to repeat ourselves, trying to find uniqueness in that repetition. But we are lucky in that we aren’t the only ones doing this.
What do you fell about you’re being an Armenian in Turkey?
I am happy that I am descended from those people who are a minority in Turkey. It gives me strength.
Have you been to Armenia?
Yes. I took my father. He also dreamt about going to Armenia and when he got on in years I thought I should take him as soon as possible. The two of us went in 2005.
P.S. I spent a day with Silva and got to know her city. After returning, I found myself longing for Silva’s Istanbul in a certain way.