Istanbul, wild © Semra Sevin
“In my work, I create layers that are transparent which people can look through, or things that are hanging from the ceiling, turning around and reflecting. And when you walk around those objects they will give you a different visual experience from each point of the room. This to me represents the complexity of a human’s experience within its environment; like in a kaleidoscope, when every turn creates a new multifaceted world you immerse yourself in.”
Reflections | Semra Sevin's Photography
by Dr. phil. Lily Fürstenow
The subject of Berlin City Reflections by Semra Sevin are rendered in dream waves calling for a critical study of the environment. Immediately recognizable buildings serving as the emblems of the Berlin city appear ghostly and uncanny. Partly due to the extensive use of various mirrors by the artist in her photographic work process. In her critical approach towards the world of images of the bourgeois public sphere photographer Semra Sevin introduces the broken rhythm of ovals and concaves confused with convex forms, all fused with each other and slanted. Towers and skyscrapers seem dysfunctional and out of balance, heading downwards or sideways.
Berlin, Brandenburg Gate © Semra Sevin
Big city landmarks of power for the new societies of spectacle and consumption are thus presented alienated and sometimes hardly recognisable. Particularly poignant are Sevin’s Berlin photographs of city sites like the Brandenburg Gates, the Berlin TV Tower or the Oberbaum Bridge over the Spree River where all efforts are made by the city to promote mass tourism and global consumption in the persistent effort to simplify the city’s complex narratives of history and politics. Far from visual reportage or photographic journalism Sevin’s works are melancholic and poetic, they make us believe in a world of their own.
Berlin, Oberbaum Bridge (“Oberbaumbrücke”) © Semra Sevin
Architectural spaces are depicted empty. Signs of every day life are invisible. The commonplace icons of consumer culture are avoided by the camera. The places she shows are more about ironical selfreflexivity. Some photographs dramatize the play of light and shadow, others exaggerate a subtle transparency. They evoke the condition of extreme fragmentation and spatial isolation. Her works help us grasp the political and economic links between the hunger for photographic images in urban centers, because unlike most sightseeing photographs Sevin's pictures don’t duplicate reality but try to recreate it and reveal what remains hidden: the collapsing power structures, the details of the concrete fixtures, the preposturous silhouettes of the old constructions, the grotesque outlines and contours resulting in the fragmentation of identity in an evergrowing city.
LA, City Reflection Disney Hall © Semra Sevin
Here visuality evokes different conditions of experience, intensifying the spectacle and taking it to new limits. Blurred features and hunched contours call for multifacetted experiences. Vertical fields of vision, are obstructed with horizontal lines. The relentless sharpness and recognizability of the objects creates a hyper vision beyond any normative way of seeing which causes a disorientation and transposition of reality in an attempt to question and to reflect.
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After working in Paris with some of the best fashion photographers, Sevin went to Los Angeles to study film and worked, among others, with renowned photographers such as Nick Ut and Julian Wasser. She then moved to Berlin in 2011. With her keen eye for the idiosyncrasies of different cultures and her quest for inclusion, she not only observes but also becomes submerged in the lives of her subjects, their work, their perspectives and stories. Sevin’s sensitive investigations of cosmopolitan cities reflect upon the ephemeral moments of ever-changing landscapes. Using photography, reflective surfaces, glass, foils, projections and focusing on in camera work; Semra produces abstract multi-level images, comparable to painted work. In their layers and their motion, the pictures challenge a single definitive explanation; they enhance the singular view of reality and visually expand it to demonstrate variety.
Semra Sevin. Photo by Felicia Scheuerecker