Whitehot Magazine

Interview with Seçkin Pirim

Installation view, Seçkin Pirim: Retreat at Dirimart, Istanbul. Courtesy of Dirimart and the artist. 

Seçkin Pirim: Retreat

Dirimart, Istanbul Turkey

December 1 through 30, 2022

By LARA PAN, January 2023

Seçkin Pirim’s latest exhibition provides an opportunity for viewers to question the chaotic nature of the contemporary moment while simultaneously allowing them to gain insight into their own personal transformations. Through his playful exploration of different forms, which challenge the existing boundaries between order and chaos, Pirim seeks to provide answers to questions about rejuvenation and transformation in today’s constantly fluctuating environment.

Pirim’s works often combine different materials—such as wood, metal, and stone—to create an effect that speaks to viewers’ emotions. The combination of these materials creates a strong sense of harmony between the physicality of the materials and the forms that they express. Through this process, Pirim creates an immersive environment where viewers can explore their own identity while also connecting with others. This is seen in his use of minimalistic forms which represent both the individual’s journey as well as our collective experience in life. By creating works that evoke emotion through their simple yet powerful aesthetic, Pirim further highlights themes such as loss, remembrance, identity, and belonging, which ultimately causes people to see themselves in his work.

And Pirim’s architectural work is not merely reflective of his fascination with the artistic concepts of renewal and transformation, but it is also a way to allow viewers to gain insight into how they themselves constantly construct their own world anew. Through his optical works, he encourages the viewer to become more aware of their surroundings, and more attendant to the sensory experiences they generate. One of the goals of his exhibition is to capture conscious states, thus providing us with an opportunity to become mindful of our emotions, and to truly comprehend the sensibilities and peculiarities of different situations, both internal and external. In this way, we reject being alienated from the experience we are having, while simultaneously exploring a new kind of connectedness with the world.

Installation view, Seçkin Pirim: Retreat at Dirimart. Courtesy of Dirimart and the artist.

LP: I loved your exhibition at Dirimart, a gallery that just opened. Tell me more about Retreat? It’s true that there is a peaceful atmosphere inside. I would say it’s not only the forms that create this peace, but also your choices of materials, an important component of your work.

I'm glad you felt this peace. When I created the idea for this exhibition, my initial goal was to transform the space into a sanctuary. I aimed to achieve the feeling I experienced when I was wandering around in sanctuaries or holy places by transforming the mold and structure of the exhibition space. I believe that focusing on paper and acrylic in my recent works also supports this feeling of peace.

LP: Your work is most often a crossover between sculpture, architecture, and design. Does sound ever influence your work?

I like to move between different fields. Architecture is a branch that I have been admiring from a very young age. Design and music are also very important to me. I have built sculptures for some of the compositions that deeply impressed me. I’ve also created some works utilizing sound in previous years. My recent paper works emerging from emotions that are rooted in the subconscious also create the same sense of sound. 

LP: You live in London most of the time, one of the best architecture cities in the world, and also you travel a lot. In your view, what is the city today that best represents the architecture of the future?

I spend most of my life in the atelier which is the space that nourishes me most. When I'm not in the atelier, I like to travel which is another source that feeds me. The retreats that I have photographed during these travels were the main inspiration behind my last exhibit. The architecture of the future was never a futuristic landscape for me. Mostly I have enjoyed cities that remained faithful to the past or those renewed and inspired by it. 

Installation view, Seçkin Pirim: Retreat at Dirimart. Courtesy of Dirimart and the artist.

LP: One of my favorite works in your exhibition is a “Plan for an Inexistant Future”. Do you think that with a world global crisis, it’s possible that we could sacrifice our collective future altogether?

Actually, this one is about moving away from the city in retreat and returning back with a whole new consciousness. It’s also based on Mevlana's words "I was raw, I cooked, I burned". I believe that we can purely build our yet inexistent future with collective consciousness and a mass retreat. The production of this piece was a deeply meditative process for me. Producing these pieces by cutting 40-50 thousand pieces of paper took me 3-4 months. The moments of cutting and tearing the paper was some sort of a retreat for me. The decision to retreat is never an easy one and you never know if you’ll come out of it in a positive state. You will be faced with memories where you can lose yourself. If you look at it, all great decisions in the world are made around a table. Which is why I couldn’t display the plan of an inexistent future anywhere other than a table.

LP: Tell me more about this work. Somehow I found it very optimistic and poetic despite its seemingly grim title. 

I have been interested in Mevlana's philosophy since high school. One sentence in Mesnevi has formed the main subtext of my practice and my work. “From oneness to the whole.” What I mean by production practice is about my individual works reaching and forming a whole by the repetition of similar units and elements. It is knowing that each word I have been worrying about and reflecting in my work could be the point of distress for someone else too, in some other part of the world. It is the effect of oneness over the whole… All these philosophical affinities and my curiosity led me to research the philosophy of other societies and Zen is one of these. Walking among them and even structuring and living my life based on these principles is one of the major forces that influence and shape my creation process. My works are created in direct connection with my life. When I begin to minimize my life both materially and spiritually, I realize that my works are minimized and purified as well. So, the impact of all these philosophies on my life also is also reflected in my work.

Installation view, Seçkin Pirim: Retreat at Dirimart. Courtesy of Dirimart and the artist.

LP: Much of your inspiration comes from Zen philosophy, as well as Rumi. Do you find yourself combining these disparate influences, and what impact do they have on your creative process? 

My works are created in direct connection with my life. When I begin to minimize my life both materially and spiritually, I realize that my works are minimized and purified as well. So, the impact of all these philosophies on my life also is also reflected in my work. 

LP: Please speak about any future projects you’re thinking of pursuing after this inspiring solo exhibition. Will there be any projects in NYC in the near future?

Next year, I will be exhibiting and participating in expos mostly outside of Turkey. New York is not in the plans right now, but of course you never know. Another great project will hopefully come to life in Turkey by the end of 2023. With or without exhibitions, I will keep dreaming and producing. WM

Lara Pan

Lara Pan is an independent curator,writer and researcher based in New York. Her research focuses on the intersection between art, science, technology and paranormal phenomena.

view all articles from this author