Women in oversized fur coats are the subject of Sinan Tuncay’s Milano series. While on exchange with the Erasmus program, the Turkish and New York based artist, photographed women in fur coats and then, digitally manipulated the images to accentuate the theatrical look of fur. The chic vibe of Milan during winter inspired his work. Influenced by both Istanbul and New York his images and videos are intimate and culturally rich. We talked to Sinan about how these series came about.
How was it like to live in Milan?
I actually grew up very familiar with the Italian culture, as I studied in an Italian High School in Istanbul. The undergraduate exchange program in 2009 was a great chance to spend some time in Italy, to practice the language. I really like the city’s chic and gray atmosphere.
How did you find these women?
I bumped into them on the streets, in daily life. I first encountered them in Brera, the quarter that I used to live. It’s a central and bohemian district where lots of middle-age people live. Since Milano is very dry and cold during the winter those gigantic fur coats function as lifesaver uniforms for mature Milanese women. When I first asked them to take the photos they hesitated, but luckily, I was with a close Italian friend, who helped me convince them!
Why did you digitally manipulate the size of the coats?
By digitally distorting the coats aspect ratio, I wanted to make them look even more gigantic. My intention was to exaggerate real furs’ wild and theatrical feeling to show the impact they had on me. I somehow perceived them as tragically reminiscent of past-time hunters. I think it was tragic as they were using animal fur.
They must be expensive coats then..
Yes, they all are made from real animals. Since most of them are from family heritage, it is really hard to guess their financial and personal values. Unfortunately, still lots of real furs are being made today and they cost a couple thousand dollars.
Did they take pride in wearing them?
Well, they really didn't make any statement about it. That’s why I tried to capture their approach through their poses in the photographs.
So what do you usually talk about with your subjects when you photograph them?
It totally depends on the subject and the mood of the shoot. Talking to your subject is very crucial to make them feel comfortable and ultimately, it is highly functional to create the desired mood for your photographs.
Your practice is both in photography and the moving image, how do you make a decision to make a project photography or video?
Still or moving imagery is a decision about the rhythm of the context. I take photographs when I want to freeze a specific moment. Interestingly, I somehow try to keep that stillness in my video works. I did that kind of thing for a previous project of mine titled “Mommy’s Not Home”. Actually, I didn’t ask them to keep still, but mostly to focus on a specific state and keep doing similar gestures.
How do you think studying in Turkey has influenced your practice?
I actually studied in Istanbul for my BA and then moved to New York to get my MFA degree. So I had a chance to experience both approaches culturally. It’s hard to list all distinctions but in overall, I think, I am highly influenced by the chaotic emotionality of Istanbul and the high professionalism of New York.
Article By: Laura Rodriguez Castro.