Signs and Wonders: In the Studio with Hayal Pozanti

Joseph Akel in The Paris Review:

Photo-may-20-11-20-59-am-1024x764My first encounter with artist Hayal Pozanti was the lucky happenstance of a predetermined seating arrangement: she was placed across the table from me at a dinner celebrating Jessica Silverman Gallery, which represents Pozanti on West Coast. We spent the evening in deep discussion on the finer points of photographic theory and discovered a shared interest in the writings of Freidrich Kittler. Agreeing to stay in touch, I found myself in New York for Frieze Art Fair and decided to pay a visit to Pozanti’s studio in Queens. She was born in Istanbul in 1983 and moved to New York in 2009. In a small partitioned space with views looking over the East River toward midtown Manhattan, we talked about her current body of work, which will be exhibited later this year at the Prospect New Orleans biennial and at the Parisian iteration of the Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain.

With my recent paintings, I’ve been thinking a lot about Ken Price, Philip Guston, and Allan McCollum. And, of course, I always come back to Giorgio Morandi—I think about him regularly. I find that a common ground for all of these artists was the ability to create, through figurative abstraction, a world parallel to the one we live in. As a Turkish immigrant who has moved from place to place, who speaks several languages, I’m intrigued by the possibility of creating a universal language to unite my cross-cultural experiences. When I think back to my childhood in Istanbul—even during my time as a young professional there—I was always concerned with the question of acceptance and with the idea of unifying people. My early paintings were very figural—I was looking at Turkish miniatures and thinking about the Abrahamic religions I was in contact with daily. While getting my M.F.A at Yale and studying with Peter Halley, my practice was based on images that I would collect from the Internet. I was really engrossed in that culture of image collecting, collaging. But I realized that I couldn’t propose something new by appropriating things. I wanted to step away from the computer, because I was spending so much time in front of the screen, sitting there staring at something with dozens of tabs open.

More here.