Asya Cetin on Photography, Kanye and Cheeseburgers

We talked to New York/Istanbul-based artist Asya Cetin and discovered her love for visuals and junk food go hand in hand.


Introducing Asya, a visual artist who lives and works in Istanbul and New York and has a weakness for greasy food.

Working with analogue and digital photography, her main focus is the relationship between space and people. Her recent works examine humans and architectural reality as well as their relationship to the outside world. Check out some of her works in this article.

Asya, I love breakfasts, especially long ones with good music and entertaining stories. What is your breakfast dream-scenario?

I love breakfasts as well, especially the big ones I have in Williamsburg at our backyard with friends and family, with the loud weird music coming from our neighbors. But I would definitely prefer a big Turkish breakfast if I have to choose one.

When did you know that you like to express yourself through arts and at what age did you get more serious about it?

I grew up in a family where everyone is either an artist or experienced and related with arts at some point. That made me be interested in art from a very early age. I spent my childhood investigating and learning about arts; spending time at the Fine Arts Faculty where my mom was teaching, or getting lost in the art books in my family’s library. My family always encouraged me to express myself through the language of art, so I decided to move forward in my artistic expression. Around high school, I can say that I got more serious about studying photography, and since then I have been expressing myself in this area.

What has been going on in your mind lately? Are there any thoughts that you couldn’t get rid of easily?

Lately I have been researching, reading and thinking about Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle, which happens to be the theme of my graduation project. It revolves around a transgender person who has been alienated by her own image. Referencing how mass media has affected fashion marketing, the documentation deals with themes of being self-conscious, and points to the issues of how society can change a person’s belief system through manipulated images. So that is why I am watching and looking at the visuals and around me to examine the manipulative effect of mass media on the audience, and public in general.

How would you describe your work and how do you get inspired in your every day life?

My artistic practice develops around a range of different media including photography, mixed media, and video art. Fed by this interdisciplinary focus, I use installations to carry my narrative beyond the photographic documentation. I work in analogue and digital photography as well as installation, and focus on the relationship between the space and people. I get my inspiration bymonitoring people’s behavior and reactions to daily life in order to reflect this into my documentation.

I know it’s a tough question but where do you see yourself in the future?

Right now I work in between İstanbul and New York; in the near future I plan to move to New York and contınue my life by doing what I love, which is to keep creating and moving forward in my artistic expression. And of course, travelling as much as I can, which is another thing that makes me feel alive.

Do you have somebody you look up to or somebody who really inspires you ?

I am very inspired by Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work as well as his attitude towards life. His way of creating is not just a purpose of creating an artwork, but a connection with life itself. At the end of the day his passion is the communication he makes during the process, instead of just being a concern of acquiring a solid piece. Also I like Nicholas Alan Cope and Thomas Lohr’s work from the new generation.

If you ever feel demotivated, what is your number one song to get you going again?

I like listening to hip hop music if I need to get pumped. If I had to choose one piece that never lets me down it would have to be Kanye West – Homecoming.

What is your favourite moment? 

That’s gotta be the time I went on a road trip in California. The colors and the desert attracted me so much during the sunset, ıt was breathtaking.

What is something that people don’t know about you?

A double cheeseburger can always turn me on.

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