Istanbul may not be known as a global cultural capital, but Demet Müftüoğlu Eşeli and her husband, Alphan Eşeli, are changing that thanks to the Istanbul Arts & Culture Festival. IST Festival for short - which just closed its fifth edition last Sunday, bringing a number of bold names in fashion, art and entertainment from around the globe to Turkey, included is Los Angeles-based fine art photographer and filmmaker Alex Prager.
On the first night of the festival, the Eşelis introduced Prager to Istanbul during the opening of her eponymous exhibition, which will be on display until June 20 in ISTANBUL'74's gallery space, in conjunction with Lehmann Maupin.
'Normally I show a body of work that was all shot around the same time, and I thought it would be interesting to show a broader view because I felt like I was introducing myself and my work to Istanbul for the first time.'
Consisting of a dozen hyper-realistic large-scale photographs littered with influences from Hollywood and her 12-minute film starring Elizabeth Banks titled Face in the Crowd. The pieces ranged from 2008 to 2013, beginning with 'Cindy,' a 2008 image of her friend in a floral dress standing in front of a red car before a completely black background. 'I thought it was the most perfect red, it was so beautiful, so I left a note on the car asking if they would sell it to me, and they never got back to me, so I kept on leaving notes on the car,' said Prager, who eventually succeeded.
The newest work in the exhibition is a 2014 photograph of a woman's face and a nose below that evolved from her 'Face in the Crowd' series. 'I kept thinking, that's such a great nose,' she said. 'I almost want to crop out that person and show that as the picture, but it didn't work that way because I was making a series of crowds, so then after the crowd series, I went and shot individual parts.'
And what did Prager take away from working in such close detail with people's faces? 'Everyone is so interesting, and everyone is so different, and how we're all built so differently, and all the individual, unique parts together that make up who we are, it's just fascinating,' she said.