VDB Asks...Nazli Dinçel

Lauren Pirritano
VDB Asks...Nazli Dinçel

Nazlı Dinçel’s hand-made work reflects on experiences of disruption. Dinçel records the body in context with arousal, immigration, dislocation and desire with the film object: its texture, color and the tractable emulsion of the 16mm material. Their use of text as image, language and sound imitates the failure of memory and their own displacement within a western society. 

1. Can you tell us something about your background?

I immigrated from Turkey to the US as an exchange student at age 17 to a small Wisconsin town. My initial host family worked at Harley Davidson and had a side parrot breeding business. On top of the culture shock, I was taught to put diapers on parrots so they can learn how to fly in the house, which taught me a lot about the oddity of suburban life in America. My parents are bankers, so I am mostly self-taught when it comes to art and image making.

2. What inspired you to become an artist? 

Having a natural impulse to create and being inspired by the art of storytelling in my culture.

3. Did you have formal art training/schooling?

I went to film school at UW-Milwaukee and also did a semester of graduate school at the San Francisco Art Institute. I went to SFAI to work with George Kuchar, but he passed away that year from cancer. I ended up coming back and finishing graduate school in Milwaukee.

 4. How do you balance life and art? Are you able to make a living through creating art?

I don’t think you can live a balanced life being an artist in the US. I’ve been successful at receiving some funding, but I have not taken on teaching as many other artist friends have. This puts me in a precarious position financially. I wish to work full time as an artist, but we are often put in a competitive position to fund our practices which I find ethically counter-intuitive to being an artist.

5. What influences or motivates you in the world?

Knowledge and fighting for justice.

6. What artists or movements are you following right now?

I am trying to continue developing a decolonial lens in making films, and how to create a film language that isn’t only made for English speaking audiences. I am really fascinated by how sex work is being exhibited in the pandemic and doing a lot of research about OnlyFans. This is related to performance and looking into the ways in which art manifests outside of institutions.

7. What was the last exhibition you saw?

EJ Hill’s The Lily League and Radical Commitments: The Life and Legacy of Angela Davis, both right before the pandemic over a year and a half ago, when I was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute. 

8. What has been the best screening experience of your work?

I always project my own films and am usually behind the running of the screening. The projection booth is a spot I feel most comfortable in. My experiences have been pretty similar because of this. I like seeing the setups at different institutions, but I also love the intimacy of showing work in a microcinema which allows both being in the booth and being a part of the audience in a single room. I mostly enjoy hearing people laugh with the work.

9. What are you working on right now?

The 2020-ongoing pandemic has given me a pause to reconsider the capitalist drive in art making and how I will address this in my own practice. I am trying to find ethical and non-colonialist ways to engage with filmmaking and slowly working on a film that is about my grandmother and a potential new project about manipulation and gaslighting.

10. How do you start a piece? How do you know when a piece is finished?

I usually have a feeling and a loose idea. The films always come from necessity or an urgency to express which is an experience of existing as a woman of color in a privileged medium. I usually take the initial idea and start collecting shots, these are usually between 12-16-minutes (4-6 rolls of film) and they are made into 8-13-minute short films. The medium directly informs how I work. I find the limitations of working with analogue material very liberating in making decisions. The film is done when it feels right. I work very obsessively when editing and the finishing point is somewhere between disliking the work and feeling that there is nowhere else to explore.

 11. What are you currently reading? Watching?

I am reading an excessive amount of psychological theory and watching reality TV shows. I think the two are related: reality TV shows are nature documentaries of human psychological nature under surveillance.

Video Data Bank