Under the leadership of the writer André Breton, surrealism liberated, in the 1920s, cinema, literature, painting and photography from the omnipotence of reason to restore positive values in the aftermath of the Great War. As the centenary of the movement approaches, we return to the surrealist work of contemporary photographer May Parlar.
A photographer and videographer of Turkish origin, May Parlar studied architecture and design in the United Kingdom before devoting himself exclusively to the visual arts. Like the surrealists who denounced the excesses of rationalism, May Parlar produced surreal photographs in which she explored universal themes such as alienation, the human condition, time, memory and identity. His three series of photographs - “Nomadic realities”, “Once I feel in time”, “Collective solitude” - were worth exhibiting and publishing in Europe and across the Atlantic. Today, she lives and works between Istanbul (Turkey), Berlin (Germany) and New York City (New York).
In series inspired by her dreams, May Parlar offers our capitalist society a break. Through fantasized images, the artist builds, from different mediums - photography, performance, installation, Land art -, other realities. By reproducing the mechanisms of the unconscious, it symbolically represents time, life and death. In "Once I fell in time", the multiplied objects - rubber boots, bowler hats, colored balloons, immaculate white clothes - float in the air or inhabit the landscape. An obvious nod to René Magritte's famous painting Gloconde, the series questions alienation, belonging to a group and the individuality of everyone.
In "Collective solitude", the objects are this time accompanied by anonymous characters. All similar, the figures photographed hide their faces behind a mask, a sheet, a balloon or even a mirror. The human figure imposes itself in the landscape, but it is always dehumanized. Each model is effectively emptied of what constitutes it as an individual, therefore dispossessed of its own identity.
Surrealist compositions in which the photographer's astonishment produces meaningful compositions that serve a political discourse in tune with the times.
To learn more, visit May Parlar's website
Photographs: May Parlar