Seçil Alkış: To start with, can you tell us about yourself? Who is Monika Bulanda?
Monika Bulanda: A tough question, I actually have a variety of identities. I am both a musician and a painter. If I was to define myself as a whole, I could perhaps say that I am someone who lives and find life in art. I always try to be within the world of art. About music though, I try to do more like commercial music. I try to play around with sounds. I will be exhibiting a tiny CD as well here. About painting, well I’m doing things as you see, more on paper, some as mosaic but that’s a totally different thing…
Most important of it all is that I am an artist in painting and in music, or perhaps me being an artist that is forcefully trying to stay within art. At the same time, I am trying not to lose my values, and I do hope I will not lose them… Of course, progressing steadily is important to me as well.
S.A: You use unconventional materials in your works, these materials you use for your paintings, how did you discover them, how would you describe that process?
M.B: I work with different materials since childhood. Paper, as a material, is quite new to me. I usually worked with charcoal and oil paint. For example, I find it really interesting why I did not enjoy working with acrylic back in the day. Yet, I did many works with acrylic, I even won first place in a competition when I was kid with it. Now I do work with paper, and here is how it all began: While I was passing through Taksim, I had an idea. I even remember the exact spot; that was when the paintings started. I saw windows, and the crowded population around there. I for long wanted to make a painting showing crowds through windows. This feeling was around for a long time then. I was thinking about how I could accomplish that, and I bought some oil paint as I was passing through. I tried with oil paint, but no, I could not create the feeling or the colors I wanted. I went for a concert to New York just after that. I didn’t stay for long, but just for enough a duration. The same feeling I had in Istanbul, with the crowd and the different colors, were there as well. I looked back again and again from a different perspective; you know as if every human was a color and I was trying to catch the feeling of each different color. After I came back home, I tried to get that feeling on the same painting again. It didn’t work and I found myself quite upset about it. Just as I gave up and was covering my works, I realized the effect they did when they were covered with small pieces of paper. That was how I achieved the feeling I was seeking! Perhaps, it was a result of a mistake. After that, I worked with black acrylic painting for a long time.
But the feeling and the idea were always there inside me. It is of course not a total coincidence. I worked hard for everything to come to this point, until I got what I wanted. I tried and tried over and over again. For a year and a half I’ve only been trying things, I was also drawing different things and working on some oil paintings at home.
S.A: How do you decide on the images for your next projects, by the way do you take these photographs yourself?
M.B: Of course I do everything on my own. The feelings I feel have to be transferred to the audience. When I feel something, I want to make it. For example, the project I’m working on right now is about Ottoman Turkish. There was a painting on old Ottoman Turkish in a museum I was visiting, maybe it had affected my works, I realized this later on. I am a person who gets affected in the soul quite easily. I visit a lot of exhibitions and museums, and I get happy seeing new works, getting new ideas. It motivates me to be honest.
S.A: Some artists refrain from visiting galleries and museums since they think they would get affected from what they’ve seen when they are producing. What do you think about this?
M.B: I think it is a good thing to be affected. Getting inspired of course, not copying. I think it is the only way to progress. It is the same for music or any other thing life. We learn from the things we experience. Then we can put something on top of those things we learned. You get an idea from something else, then form it into an idea of your liking. That is the exact same in life…
S.A: Could you call it improving your visual culture?
M.B: Yes, to live on from and to be inspired. Our minds have a way and a rhythm of working. You cannot change this. Your art is affected by the behaviors you were taught at home, education you take from school and the life you form for yourself. Art, in general is life. At least this is how I see it.
S.A: Alright, well you work on plastic arts and music at the same time. How does this add to your works?
M.B: A very interesting thing happened. I was working only as a musician before. I was a drummer in some bands. Then I had my first exhibition and that gave me a lot of self-confidence. Now I’m trying to blend this self-confidence with my music. I can create new things in music as well. A musician and a composing musician are two completely different concepts.
S.A: That is the effect of plastic arts on your music, what could you say for the other way around?
M.B: I always listen to music when I’m painting and if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to work this much. I wouldn’t be able to reflect that feeling and energy in painting. On the other hand, as a musician, I travel a lot, I go to so many different places. The cultures, the people and the lifestyles I discover are sources to my paintings in many occasions. At the end of the day, they go along in a parallel path. Sometimes I focus on painting, sometimes on music. I believe I have a quite alright balance in my life right now.
S.A: You talk about multicultural aspects in your works. Could we discuss that a bit? Your works are very satisfactory in terms of visual sensation. How about the subtexts under them? What are you interested in? What do you imply when you say multiculturalism?
M.B: Multiculturalism is not only living somewhere, but also learning the language and the culture. I like multicultural life. It is quite a colorful one. Going to a Chinese restaurant and try out the Chinese cuisine is a factor lifting up my life’s quality. When you think about the globalized world, many people could get inspiration from this sort of things – and in positive ways. Coming here as a tourist holds no importance next to talking to people, witnessing the real conditions, experiencing the real lives that are being lived. Me, I was thinking of totally different things in my first year in Turkey. After learning the mother tongue of Turkey, it became a totally different place for me. What I am talking about is more like this: you have to get into a place and work on it. I always had interest in different cultures and languages since my childhood. I studied at a Spanish high school. I had Spanish teachers. They were so different than my Polish teachers. A whole different world, ideas, behaviors… It perhaps was an era directing my entire life. I could call myself a world citizen. Borders do not hold any importance to me.
S.A: Let’s talk about your exhibition in ALAN Istanbul, April. Are you excited?
M.B: I’ve been working a long time. I am expecting a great exhibition. At the end, I will be displaying works of mine that I really love. There will be various surprises from my previous works. I am planning to include some videos in them. Not installations maybe but an experience where painting, video and music are intertwined. Associations closer to the subject, also reflecting my ideas. There will be an exhibition called “MULTI CITY”. We will be seeing the effects on different cultures, in way that is not only done through colors but also with music and dancing.
S.B: How do you integrate dancing into your works?
M.B: I used to dance a lot in the countries I was. I love to dance. Yet, I am so busy now that I barely have any time to dance – and perhaps none these days. I believe dancing to be an art unifying people. For example dances of different cultures are basically forms of art that brings warmth in between people. When I go to a new country, I immediately look for events to dance in. To illustrate, I would never have guessed how good the Chinese do Salsa. That perhaps is what multiculturalism for me. To be able to combine the best parts of different cultures without losing anything from your own being. Turkish dances are as well brilliant and they should be displayed to other countries too.
S.A: How do you position your works in general sense?
M.B: I think they are formed in time. I am young, and I believe I will be doing a lot more. My only hope is to be able to do the things I like my entire life, and especially just like I said in the beginning, without losing my own values.
S.A: Would you like to ask one question to yourself? What would you like to talk about?
M.B: I speak with my works. There are many that talk around – and without doing anything. That’s why I’m not a person that chooses to talk a lot. I believe my works are vocal enough.
S.A: I just thought of one last question, painting or music?
M.B: I started painting very early, almost 10 years ago. Back then I was also practicing theatre and dancing. I did not make any choices. I tried to be successful in everything I do and I gained my freedom. I think I also have to state that with all the work I feel that I belong to myself as a person. Youth have many problems these days, but one greatest is the expectations from them by their families. People never discover anything on their own. I did this thanks to music and painting. When a person discovers her/himself, then s/he can set the lifestyle and choices on it. I just want to live my life to the fullest, free and happy.