Mehmet Nevzat Erdoğan was born in Lefkosia, Cyprus and he is a really special photographer. In his work sleep acquires a new significance as his beautiful work reaches out to the world in a private kind of activism.
How did you come up with your sleeping series?
My series on exhaustion kind of unraveled in a very unconscious but natural way. I was living in the States, had just started working. It was my first time experiencing that world of 9 to 5 jobs, turning from an individual to more of a mechanical animal stuck in a cycle. I came home one day and took several pictures of me sleeping in strange places. I started to fantasize about a world in which people fell asleep in unusual places. Sleep as a rebellious act in a world that forces us to be constantly productive or does not recognize rest as a legitimate option. Sleep as a rebellious act in a world that no longer remembers or knows what “resting” actually involves. It inspired me for years and it still inspires me to this day. Last year the pictures were exhibited as a group under the title “I dreamt we weren’t so tired.” It is a commentary on our modern exhaustion living urban lives in the 21st century.
When did you get interested in photography?
I was always into visual things and felt that I had things to say but didn’t quite know that photography would be the language I should be speaking. When I first went to college to study in the States, I was 16, I thought the experience would be liberating, but I found myself in a conservative football school with not many people to relate to. I was feeling very alone. I bought a digital camera, one of those initial models that had like 1.3 mp. Really bad quality. But it was love from the moment I held it in my hands.
There is lots of nature and beautiful landscapes in your work. How important is nature to you?
I’m not sure. A person who is very close to me was recently convincing me that there is no such thing as nature really, that we are all nature in a way. So all of this is really important to me, all of us, how we are all connected. I’m more of a homebody than a hiker or a woodsy outgoing type of guy, in the strictest sense, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel really sad about all of this environmental destruction happening. I can feel global warming coming, I fear the extinction of bees. I know we have ruined a lot of things. But my grief about it is very private and I don’t feel motivated to turn this knowledge into action somehow. Except maybe in my photography, which is my attempt to embrace my fantasy life, the one in my head, which in some ways is more real to me than real life anyway. We should all be trying to lead more conscious lives in terms of how we affect the natural world.