Interview with Selen Ansen
by Anna Zizlsperger
Your academic background is in Cinema and Visual Arts and Modern Literature, as well as in Theory and Practice of the Arts. Is it right to say that up until recently you were mostly working as a lecturer/professor, art theorist and writer?
Yes, I have been working as a professor in Aesthetics and Theory of Art and also as an independent writer for a few years. I currently teach at Istanbul Bilgi University in the Masters Programme of Philosophy and Social Thought.
What made you decide to become a curator, and how do you think your academic background influences your work?
I did not, so to speak, decide to become a curator although I’ve been curious about the process of making exhibitions since I started collaborating with artists (as a writer). I had participated in the organisation of a few artistic events in France, but I didn’t make the ‘jump’ into curating until my experience at ARTER. I owe this to Emre Baykal and to Melih Fereli, who invited me to Berlinde de Bruyckere’s show in 2012 to work with ARTER’s team as a guest curator. My academic background probably has an unavoidable influence on my approach; it’s difficult for me to estimate in which way exactly or to what extent, but I suppose my theoretical ground and subjects of interest play a role in the way I conceive a thread or build a relationship with the artworks. Yet, I also enjoy and feel the need to be ‘disoriented’ by subjects and practices that I’m not familiar with on a theoretical level.
After having lived and worked in France for many years you returned to Istanbul in 2009. Can you tell us about your reasons?
I enjoyed my life in France until it became professionally difficult for me to fulfill my wish to work from an interdisciplinary perspective. In 2009, I moved back to Istanbul when Ferda Keskin offered me the opportunity to teach at Bilgi University, in the Philosophy Masters programme he was creating at the time. For me, it was very fortunate, since I have the opportunity to work together with my colleagues from other fields and also to build a dialogue with the students who challenge and enrich my own reflection. Although the notion of ‘roots’ is problematic for me, I can also feel how much this city has nourished my perceptive and sensory experience with its cultural and historical diversity and dynamism. For that too, I am glad I returned to Istanbul and can experience the changes moving society from within…