Eyluel Aslan

Can you tell us a little about your background? Where did you grow up? Where do you live today?

I was born in Kartal, which is a neighbourhood pretty far from the centre of Istanbul. So, for the longest time, my mission was to convince my mother to move away from there. And we moved to Kadıköy when I turned 12. Kartal is by the sea, and our house had an amazing view of the Marmara Sea and the Prince’s Islands. We were surrounded by a lot of trees. I was an only child and I did not have many friends. I often preferred being alone. I did a lot of drawing but I was never really good at it. And now I live in Istanbul, Turkey.

What is Istanbul to you? How does living in Istanbul affect your photos?

Istanbul is the equivalent of confusion to me. I can never tell whether I love it or hate it. It is a beautiful city, but it is dirty and the crowd sometimes makes me feel dizzy. It can be incredibly noisy. It is unbearable in the summer. I hate the hot weather. And the inhabitants love to stare. So whenever I am trying to take photos, I always have an audience and I really hate it. Because I really enjoy being alone. People are way too curious. So it stresses me out. And everything is so chaotic here. I enjoy having simple, minimalistic backgrounds for my photos and that is really hard to find here. There’s always something happening in the streets.

Did living near by the sea affect your work in any way?

Yes, it probably has affected my understanding of the aesthetics of things. Being surrounded by beautiful things inspires me a lot. And I love the sea. I can’t imagine living in a city where there is no sea. It really is a privilege. And no, a river is never a substitute.

Have you ever thought about moving away from Istanbul in the future? Which country would you like to travel to for shooting photos?

I have had the dream of leaving Istanbul and living somewhere else ever since I first travelled abroad when I was 9 years old. My mind hasn’t changed, I still want to, but the idea of leaving my family and friends is excruciating. And of course there is the Turkish food! My dream is to live in a Scandinavian country. I have been to Denmark and Sweden several times now. Stockholm is an amazing city. I would really love to live there one day. And the Swedes are really art friendly! So I think the best place for taking photos is Sweden, except for the cold weather… Ironic, I know.

You mentioned above that you were often alone when you were living with your mother in Kartal. Could this be the reason why you love self-portraits?

Maybe. I had not really thought about it before. Probably. But it’s also because it is so much easier (and guaranteed) to get the perfect result if I am doing it all myself. “If you want something done right do it yourself” haha…

In many of your photos the main motive is legs. Are these mainly your own legs?

They are mostly my legs, but some of them are other people’s legs.

Why are you so fascinated with legs?

I just love legs. They are beautiful, and magical. And they lead you to the body, you know.

What are your plans for the future? Which topic do you want to work on?

I’m graduating from university this June, so I am considering doing a master’s degree in photography next year, but I am not really sure whether that’s necessary or not. If I decide to do it, I would love to do it in NYC or London.

I’ll be living in Berlin for 2 months this summer and after my trip I am thinking about either planning an exhibition here in Istanbul or making a book. I’ll also be meeting up with gallery owners there, so an exhibition there might be possible as well. Other than that, I might publish a book of all the thigh/leg/feet photos I have.

Eyluel, thank you for this interview.