JONATHAN CHERRY: What did you want to be growing up?
DOGAN ARSLANOGLU: Never really thought about it. I did want to study philosophy at one point.
JC: Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?
DA: It’s usually friends. I also like the idea of muses. But for other things, Rebecca Solnit’s Field Guide to Getting Lost has been a great book. Other writers have been Marcel Proust, Frank O’Hara, Samuel Beckett, Alain Robe-Grillet. I always go back to old photo book introductions like Szarkowski’s introduction to Eggleston’s Guide, and Kerouac’s introduction to The Americans. Current photographers like Ron Jude has been extremely inspiring, along with Jason Fulford, and Thobias Faldt.
JC: What are you up to right now?
DA: I’m nearly done editing and sequencing 3 new projects that have been shot for the past 2 years. The images shown here are from one of those projects. It’s called Flow of Things and it is a trip starting at the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul, and moving through southern Turkey, Greek islands, China, and the US. Without getting too into it, i wanted this body of work to bring disparate narratives together with the unifying theme of water. Photographing is usually the (relatively) easy part, and it takes anywhere from 6 months to a year to properly edit, and sequence them.
JC: Have you had mentors along the way?
DA: Samantha Salzinger introduced me to photography, and she is the reason I do this. Bill Maguire helped me stay in it, and much more. I’m working with some wonderful people currently as well. I’m not sure if I could call them mentors just yet but they’ve been extremely helpful.
JC: Where are you based right now and how is it shaping you?
DA: I’m currently based in Brooklyn. It’s already a big contrast as in previous years I was in constant motion/travel. The difference is that during travel I would leave the environments that I was photographing before I had a chance to really see what those photographs were like. Now there is this dialogue where I can see the photographs, and I still happen to be in that same environment so I can respond.
To put it another way, I studied photography in Miami but right after I went away to travel for nearly a year. That uncertainty really helped me make work without agenda. I would be transient, and leave a place before I understood what it was, and who the people I met meant to me. It was the photographs that were made during this time that helped me understand retrospectively what that experience was. I did another short stint in Miami after but being in Brooklyn has been much more settled that I’ve been in a long time.
JC: One piece of advice to photography graduates?
DA: The only thing I could say is be honest, and manage your influence so you can avoid losing grip on your individual viewpoint. It’s something I struggle with as well.
JC: If all else fails - what is your plan B?
DA: There isn’t one really. I love the failure as much as the triumph.
JC: Is it important to you to be a part of a creative community?
DA: Not for me. At least it doesn’t necessarily have to be creative. For some it is, and they do great things.