Film Festival Interview : Asli Sonceley

July 20, 2019

Asli Sonceley, Los Angeles 

 

 

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your work

 

I was born in Istanbul to architect parents. After a French education, I graduated from Wesleyan University with High Honors in Film Studies. I moved to Los Angeles as an aspiring filmmaker. But the 2008 economic crash and my immigration status charted my path away from art. I started my own design studio and spent my 20s servicing brands. I managed UX/UI design projects for tech startups. I later acquired Greenpeace as a client and ran many multinational campaigns. I consider this as a 10-year research phase. Last year I took an indefinite break from client work to focus on art full-time. My artwork begins at the culmination of my experience in tech entrepreneurship and environmental activism.

 

What set you off as an artist?

 

Cinema, as a child. 

 

Then, climate change. 

 

There has always been a very thin line between my work and my personal life. I found myself sponging in all the world's problems, causing me intense anxiety. I found my way back to art upon an urgent call for both environmental and self-healing. 

 

 

Tell us about the themes you pursue in your work 

 

Climate change is the overarching theme in all the work.

 

Waste management and the cycle of responsibility concerning materials is my precise focus. I experiment with my own plastic waste in mixed-media work, which will come up more in future work.

 

Birds are a life-long leitmotif. Their absence and presence are a back of the mind concern for the characters in my stories. I leverage the unfastening of my identity as a first-generation immigrant and my multi-lingual mindset.

 

Lastly, I study the upbringing of artificial intelligence: a baby parented by our humanity stretched between guilt and innocence, hope and fear.

 

What art do you most identify with? any specific influences or research areas?

 

Cinema has my heart. I watch and re-watch films that are important to me.

 

I learned how to work with themes from Classical Westerns. I find horror to be the most inventive film genre. The "body genre" that pushes the boundaries of sight and sound to get a reaction out of the audience. I like prestige horror that tackles complex human psyche using highbrow aesthetics, Suspiria, Mother!, The Shining and alike. East-Asian cinema is a big influence on me. I need to revisit some Wong-Kar Wai...

 

I grew up with abstracts by Turkish contemporary artists from the 60s - 80s. Bedri Rahmi, Suleyman Saim, Mengu Ertel. This must have shaped the way I look at art. Also, Degas and Renoir take my breath away.

 

 

Tell us how you organise, plan, and prioritise your work.

 

I am creating the pieces of a large puzzle called "Trouble in Paradise." Each piece lives in a different medium: poetry, collage, film, photography...

 

I am comfortable with multiple ongoing projects at the same time. I manage my distractions by staying true to my story world. I know the rules of my world very well. I am locked in on my themes. So I let myself jump from one piece to another. I don't prevent myself from starting an idea if I can prototype it quickly.

 

I make time to garden, cook, and compost. The full cycle of life and death happening at my hands helps me stay grounded about the pace of my work. I germinate fruit seeds and grow plants from cuttings. They take life, each at their own pace. Same goes for my puzzle pieces. They grow organically. A sketch is a seed. It may develop quicker than others. Some pieces may take years to mature. What matters is that I can see where that piece goes on my puzzle.

 

How would you describe your approach to film and photography?

 

When I hold the camera, I like to capture that odd thing I find myself gazing at while thinking other thoughts. Movements of non-human species attract my attention. Their stories encrypted to me, make me want to speak their language or speak for them. 

 

When I'm editing, or using my own voice, I search for candid inner rhythms.

 

Do you have any upcoming projects or exhibitions?

 

"The Town with No Name" my bilingual sci-fi is in post. This is my first attempt at zero-waste filmmaking. 

 

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